Skip main navigation



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.

Back to Ask a Pharmacist


Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

Your Digital Health Advisor. Powered by WebMD. Manage diabetes with this easy online tool.* Get started.
Your Digital Health Advisor. Powered by WebMD. Manage diabetes with this easy online tool.* Get started.

Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices

20 Points
20 Points

Now you can track your blood pressure and blood glucose.

Start earning points Go Arrow