Alzheimer's is a progressive brain disease characterized by impaired memory, mood swings, confusion, and mental deterioration in how the brain receives and processes information. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, fear, aggressive behavior, restlessness, and repetitive actions. An accurate medical diagnosis is important because other diseases can have the same symptoms. The cause of Alzheimer's is unknown. Oxidative damage is part of the disease progression. Patients often have an acetylcholine deficiency. Acetyl-choline is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in cognition and reasoning.
The only treatment now available for Alzheimer's is to maintain quality of life. Relaxation and deep breathing improve circulation and help memory. Ginkgo biloba has been found to increase the blood flow to the brain affecting cognitive function. High blood levels of vitamin E correlate with improved brain function in older individuals.15 Music therapy has been found to be of great benefit; as other abilities decline, sensory stimulation promotes emotional well-being and facilitates a way of communication.
For individuals with symptoms of memory or attention problems not diagnosed as Alzheimer's, the nutrients vitamin A, the carotenoid complex, vitamin E (400 to 800 IU) with mixed tocopherols, vitamin C (1 g), selenium (100 to 300 mcg) and ginkgo biloba (2 cups twice daily) are beneficial.
Phosphatidylserine—100 mg three times daily, a naturally occurring compound in the brain, improves mental function.16
Acetyl-L-carnitine—500 mg to 1 g three times daily, delays progression of the disease,17 improves memory and performance, involved in the production of acetylcholine.
Vitamin E—400 to 800 IU with mixed tocopherols, an antioxidant, may slow progression of the disease.
Zinc—27 mg, if deficient, improves memory and communication skills.
The following are foods that contain lecithin or choline from which the body makes acetyl-choline:
Ginkgo biloba—80 mg extract three times daily, improves memory, and especially helpful during early stages of the disease.
Huperzine A—200 mcg twice daily, slows the progression of the disease improving memory and cognitive and behavioral function, inhibits the destruction of acetylcholine, a compound found in the Chinese medicinal herb Huperzia serrata.
Rosemary—an antioxidant and memory enhancer, contains compounds that prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine.
Dandelion flowers—contain lecithin.
Fenugreek leaves and shepherd's purse—contain choline.
Ginseng—improves mental concentration, memory and attention.
Rosemary Balm Fennel Sage
Acupuncture—treatments on the scalp that clear pathways in the brain.
Ginseng, dong quai, hoshou-wu—herbs that enhance energy and mobility.
T'ai chi—helps mental agility.
Qigong—improves circulation of the blood to the brain; stimulates mental activity due to the concentration and visualization involved in the exercise.
Yoga—beneficial affects are relaxation and deep breathing which increases blood circulation and oxygen flow.
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