Dementia & Alzheimer's • Natural Home Treatments

Dementia is defined as a chronic or persistent disorder of mental processes, caused by brain disease or injury. It is not a specific disease but a term that describes the general condition.

Alzheimer's & Dementia - Image of a jigsaw of an old woman's face with pieces of the puzzle missing

There are ten different types of dementia.

  • Alzheimer’s disease claims 60-80% of victims and is characterized by death of brain cells.
  • Vascular dementia is the second most common and is caused by lack of blood flow to the brain, as in a stroke. Affects up to 20% of dementia sufferers.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by protein deposits in nerve cells. This is the third most common type of dementia.
  • Parkinson’s disease dementia (not all Parkinson’s patients suffer from dementia)
  • Frontotemporal dementia affects front and side parts of the brain (controlling language and behavior). Comprises less than 5% of dementia patients.
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare and fatal brain disorder.  About 350 cases a year in the USA.
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a brain disorder caused by lack of vitamin B-1, with symptoms similar to dementia, but is not technically dementia.
  • Mixed Dementia, which is a combination of two or more types of dementia.
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is caused by excess fluid in the brain’s ventricles.
  • Huntington’s disease, a genetic condition that causes dementia

There are numerous theories about the cause(s) of brain cell impairment or death. While medical science has identified causal factors in some types of dementia, it is not fully understood what, for instance, creates the amyloid plaque in Alzheimer’s disease. There are indicators for genetic influence.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

As the disease progresses the symptoms will worsen until a person needs assistance with basic tasks such as bathing and grooming. There may be severe sleep disturbances and a loss of one’s ability to communicate at all. In the latest stages, a person might lose the ability to walk, sit, hold one’s head up, and control body functions.

The collection of symptoms in any one patient may not be exactly the same as in another but you will find one or many of these at different stages in most patients in the early and intermediate stage of the disease:

  • Communication challenges
  • Confusion with time and place
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired memory
  • Inability to plan or solve problems that one used to do
  • Language difficulties
  • Losing things
  • Memory impairment
  • Mood changes
  • Personality changes
  • Vision difficulties (reading, judging distances)
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities

IS IT CONTAGIOUS?

It seems unlikely; however, an international group of Alzheimer’s researchers has published an editorial suggesting that Alzheimer’s could be spread by microbes, specifically the herpes virus and two types of bacteria (chlamydia and spirochaetes).  It it turns out to be true, it could mean that the disease can be spread by surgeries and blood transfusions.  It also suggests that proper treatment could slow or stop progression of the disease.  This is another area of research with proponents and detractors.  Nothing has been proved beyond doubt.

PREVALENCE

The total number of people in the world with dementia was estimated at 35.6 million in 2010 and is predicted to double every 20 years.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

A diagnosis is made with physical and neurological exams, mental status tests and tests to rule out other diseases. If a cause or deficiency is known for a particular case or type of dementia, the physician would treat that condition (i.e. a brain tumor, depression, hypothyroidism). Medicines might be given to improve mental function but may cause undesirable side effects. There is no cure recognized by the medical community.

SELF TREATMENT

Each suggestion below is something that someone else has tried and found helpful. Some may even have passed research standards. The inclusion of any suggestion is merely intended to help you in further research; to give you clues and signposts. Nothing contained herein is intended to replace sound medical advice.

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease or in overcoming one. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, and quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent starting point.  It is next to impossible to get this kind of diet in an institution or even in a small facility with more personal care.

FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE HEALING

  • Berries
  • Bone Broth
  • Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil (be sure it’s from a reputable source, it’s quite a racket)
  • Fish from cold waters
  • Fruits, dark-skinned
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Reishi mushrooms are used for patients with Alzheimer’s and heart disease under the premise that inflammation may play a role in both conditions. Reishi mushrooms are blood thinners; consult with a doctor.

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID

  • Alcohol
  • Anasthesia is said to increase the risk of dementia.
  • Beer (because of nitrites)
  • Deli meats
  • Margarine
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Processed cheeses
  • Processed meats
  • Processed sugars
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Smoking

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Green tea

HERBS AND SPICES

Herbs can interact with medications so consult a doctor about the safety of your home care.

  • Chinese club moss
  • Ginkgo
  • Ginseng
  • Salvia
  • Curcumin, found in turmeric.  You can buy curcumin supplements. Check with your doctor regarding safe dosages.  Curcumin is found in turmeric but it takes a lot of curcumin to equal a medicinal dose.  A study by the Indian Academy of Neurology suggests that the various effects of curcumin are:
    • Decreased Beta-amyloid plaques
    • Delayed degradation of neurons
    • Metal-chelation
    • Decreased inflammation
    • Decreased microglia formation
    • Increased antioxidant delivery
    • Overall memory improvement of patients with AD.
  • Ashwagandha is being studied at the University of Michigan as a possible treatment for AD and the researchers hope that it may work to prevent the onset and also prevent progression. Pharma cannot patent a plant although compounds from a plant can be patented.  MSU holds the patent for withanamides, a powerful antioxidant found in the plant’s seeds which can protect cells against damaging attacks by a rogue protein (early stage of AD).
  • Freedom Kit: advertised as containing Homeopathic brain sarcodes and herbs, claimed to improve cognitive function, comes with a money-back guarantee.
  • Cinnamon.  A study reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that two compounds found in cinnamon inhibit the aggregation of tau, which is protein that plays a role in the structure and function of neurons.

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil like coconut, or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath.

  • Bergamot
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Peppermint
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Rosemary
  • Ylang ylang

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

Some supplements can interact with medications so if you are under the care of a doctor, check with him/her.  If you are self-prescribing, research interactions and contraindications with anything else you are taking.  There are some professionals, often pharmacists, who consult solely about interactions of various substances..

  • Amiprosate
  • Co-Q10
  • Coral calcium
  • Danshen root
  • Diatomaceous earth or edible clay to remove toxins
  • Folic acid
  • Ginkgo Biloba extract
  • Huperzine A
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Radix ginseng
  • Radix puerariae
  • Rhizoma anemarrhenae
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin D3 and curcumin. UCLA scientists and researchers from UC Riverside and the Human BioMolecular Research Institute report that a Vitamin D3, together with curcumin, may help stimulate the immune system to clear amyloid beta from the brain.  The best form of D3 comes from sunlight and curcumin is a plant compound.  Researchers say that a synthetic form of curcumin may be more easily absorbed, but synthetic-anything is not natural (that may be a secondary worry if you or a loved one is losing memory). If you take a D3 supplement, let it come from a licensed manufacturer.
  • Vitamin E

HYDRATION

A dementia patient may not have a strong thirst signal so if you care for a patient, remember to be sure they drink an adequate amount of liquids.

 Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

That exercise is beneficial to the body and the mind is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible. A dementia patient may suffer less from depression if he or she exercises regularly.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend. Do what works for you to keep mellow. Social interaction is strongly recommended for people with dementia. Here are some ideas:

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Get 30 minutes to two hours a day in natural sunlight each day for Vitamin D3. Do not go out at the hottest time of day and if you are light-skinned, do not stay in the sun long enough to burn.
  • Get quality sleep. If you don’t already sleep on your side (as most people do), try to form the habit.  Animal studies have discovered that rats’ glymphatic pathways (the system that removes waste chemicals from the brain) works better in side-sleeping rats.  Many types of dementia are linked to sleep disturbances and sleep is the time when our body repairs the damage done to us during the day.

RESEARCH

  • Ultrasound technology shows promise (in animal studies) as a non-invasive treatment that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques that cause memory loss and cognitive decline.  This comes out of the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland, published in Science Translational Medicine.  They report that 75% of the mice treated (with no damage to surrounding tissue), had memory function fully restored.  Read more here: https://www.fusfoundation.org/diseases-and-conditions/neurological/alzheimers-disease.  There is a human trial being conducted in Canada (as of November 2017).
  • Another team of researchers in Spain examined 25 cadavers.  Fourteen of the cadavers had Alzheimer’s disease and all 14 were found to have the same fungus while the 11 healthy brains had no trace.  They are trying to figure out if the fungus is the cause or the effect.
  • The genetic link.  It may be that certain gene mutations make us more susceptible.  A blood test can measure the activity levels of some genes, which is said to indicate how fast one is aging and help doctors predict and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists are working on how to manipulate immune pathways in hopes of slowing or stopping the progression of disease.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

  • Acupressure (http://www.aarogya.com/articles/acupressure/acupressure-for-dementia-patients.html)
  • Acupuncture may improve mood and cognitive skills.
  • Chinese Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684515/
  • Earthing – https://www.intuition-physician.com/new-study-proves-dementia-is-preventable-here-is-exactly-how-to-do-it/
  • Homeopathy (https://www.drhomeo.com/homeopathic-treatment/top-6-homeopathic-medicines-dementia/)
  • Neurofeedback may delay symptoms or keep unaffected parts of the brain healthy.

CAUTIONS

Dementia is a disease that can be harder on the caregiver than the patient. If you are a caregiver, take time to care for yourself. You will be no good to the patient when you fall ill from overwork and stress. A large percentage of caregivers become unable to care for their patient because of the toll the stress takes on them. An Alzheimer’s Organization support group can be valuabe for several reasons: you get out of the house now and then, you gather valuable information about how to cope with the disease, and your co-members understand everything you are going through, whereas the inexperienced cannot.

PREVENTION

  • A healthy immune system
  • A wholesome diet
  • Abstinence from excessive use of alcohol
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Get quality sleep
  • Ground your body (earthing)
  • Regular exercise
  • Treat high blood pressure
  • Use natural household products rather than chemicals
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