Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Dementia

Alternative and Complimentary Treatments for Alzheimer's Disease
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In the world of Alzheimer's disease, there are few medications that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat it. Four, to be exact. And the success of these medications is varied and limited. So, what else can you do if you or a loved one has Alzheimer's or a related dementia? One option is to consider complementary and alternative therapies.

What Is Considered a Complementary or Alternative Therapy?

It depends on whom you ask, when you ask the question, and in which country it's asked.

Generally, these are treatment methods to address symptoms of a disease that may or may not involve natural herbs and supplements, as well as different approaches outside of mainstream medicine to improve someone's functioning and quality of life.

What's the Difference between Complementary & Alternative Treatments?

Most people use these terms interchangeably, but they technically refer to different approaches.

Complementary generally means that the approach or treatment is used alongside traditional medical care. For example, an individual may be receiving both Exelon (Rivastigmine) and coconut oil.

Alternative therapy is a term usually used when a treatment is used in place of conventional medical care. An example of an alternative therapy is eliminating medications and using acupuncture and herbal supplements to treat Alzheimer's disease.

What is classified as a complementary therapy may change over time as an approach gradually becomes more integrated into traditional medical care.

Complementary & Alternative Therapies Used to Treat Dementia

A Word of Caution

It's important to note that some of the complementary and alternative approaches to dementia may tout benefits that have not yet been proven through scientific research studies as effective in treating dementia.

Additionally, with herbal and vitamin supplements, you should always ask your physician about the specific combination of medications and supplements you hope to take since natural substances can significantly (and potentially negatively) interact with medications.

Sources:

Neurologist. 2008 September 14 (5); 299-306. Alternative Medicine and Alzheimer's Disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2731997/

Alzheimer's Association. Alternative Treatments. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_alternative_treatments.asp

Alzheimer's Society. Complementary and alternative therapies and dementia. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=134

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?  https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health

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