What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder that can affect a person's thoughts and behavior. The disease causes a loss of mental abilities over time, along with dementia, depression, aggression, and other symptoms. The cause or causes of Alzheimer's disease are unknown, and no cure is available. Many scientists believe that a decrease in acetylcholine, a chemical messenger found in the brain, causes the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Environmental factors have also been suspected, but their role in the disease remains unclear.
Treatments can only relieve symptoms. There is no proof that any alternative therapies can stop Alzheimer's disease. But in theory, a variety of alternative therapies could be useful. Antioxidants, including ginkgo biloba, glutathionine, melatonin, and Vitamin E, may reduce damage to cells in the body. A recent study showed ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) reduces depression, and improves attention span, memory, and daily activities for six months to a year. A separate study found no benefit from using vitamin E to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Some alternative therapies are said to increase the amount of acetylcholine in the brain. Some people try supplements of acetyl-L-carnitine, one of the building blocks of acetylcholine. Raising the brain's production of energy with NADH or riboflavin (vitamin B-2) may also ease symptoms. Since supplements have the potential to interact with your prescription medications or health conditions, it is important to discuss any alternative therapies with your physician.