Prescription drugs for Alzheimer’s are the most common type of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. However, patients can also choose from a number of different types of natural Alzheimer’s treatment, including healthy lifestyle choices and complementary or alternative medicine options.
Natural Alzheimer’s Treatment: Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle can prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. A healthy lifestyle includes:
- A healthy, balanced diet
- Mentally stimulating activities
- Regular exercise
- Social activities.
Eating Well for Alzheimer’s
A study by the U.S. National Institute of Aging (2009) found that participants with the highest intake of vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) exhibited the slowest rates of cognitive decline. A healthy, well-balanced diet should include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Low-fat sources of protein
- Whole grains.
Mental and Physical Activities
Research suggests that engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help delay the onset of dementia and slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s sufferers. Some experts believe that mental activity achieves this by promoting the growth of additional connections between neurons in the brain. Engaging your mind can be as simple as dialing a phone number with your non-dominant hand or as complex as learning a new language.
Physical exercise is another important type of natural Alzheimer’s treatment. People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Physical exercise may help to reduce cognitive decline by:
- Improving overall health
- Preventing the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain
- Promoting greater blood circulation to the brain
- Reducing stress.
The U.S. National Institute of Aging (2009) reports that socially engaged individuals, on average, experience less cognitive decline and are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their less socially active peers. Social activity may stimulate the brain in a similar manner to mental activities.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Cholinesterase inhibitors are the most popular type of medication used for early and mid-stage Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association (2010), however, these drugs for Alzheimer’s are only effective about 50 percent of the time. People who show no significant improvement when taking these drugs may benefit from other methods of natural Alzheimer’s treatment. Some of the most popular alternative medicine options include:
- Herbal remedies
- Omega-3 fatty acids.
Speak with your doctor before taking any alternative medicine for Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.) Standard treatments. Retrieved June 15, 2010, from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_standard_prescriptions.asp.
American Health Assistance Foundation. (n.d.) Healthy living. Retrieved June 16, 2010, from http://www.ahaf.org/alzheimers/livingwith/healthyliving.html.
Friedland, R. P. et al. (2000). Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have reduced activities in midlife compared with healthy control-group members. Retrieved April 28, 2010, from http://www.pnas.org/content/98/6/3440.full.
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Lifestyle and home remedies. Retrieved April 28, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-disease/DS00161/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies.
U.S. National Institutes of Health National Institute of Aging. (n.d.) Alzheimer’s disease: Unraveling the mystery. Retrieved June 16, 2010, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/Unraveling/Part3/causes.htm#LifestyleFactors.