Dementia is a mental disorder that includes memory impairment and at least
one of the following: difficulty speaking, impaired movement, and inability to
plan and initiate appropriate behaviors socially or at work. Dementia usually
occurs in elderly people. It is rare in children. Approximately 2 to 4 percent
of the population over age 65 has dementia caused by Alzheimer's
Signs and Symptoms
Motor skills impairment (such as balance and walking)
Impaired ability to recognize objects
Inability to think abstractly
Spatial disorientation (e.g., judging distances)
Depression and suicidal behavior
Anxiety, mood, and sleep problems
What Causes It?
Alzheimer's disease accounts for half to two-thirds of all dementia cases.
Other causes of dementia are listed below.
General medical conditions, like traumatic brain injury
Parkinson's, Huntington's, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, and other
Vitamin B deficiencies
Drug or alcohol abuse, medications, or exposure to toxic
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Your health care provider will go over your symptoms and will do a physical
examination. However, since there is no definitive test for dementia, your
provider will rely greatly on interviews with you and your family, especially to
discover noticeable declines in mental and physical
Treatments are aimed at reversing or lessening the symptoms. A combination of
drug and psychiatric or behavioral therapies will be used. Your health care
provider may also closely evaluate current medications if you are elderly and
have dementia, since older people are extremely sensitive to drugs. Exercise,
both physical and mental, can slow the progress of dementia.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies may offer great promise in treating dementia without
the side effects of pharmaceuticals. Treatment with nutrition can provide rapid
results in some people with nutritional deficiencies. Herbal treatment is widely
used in Europe with promising results.
Antioxidants are key—vitamin E (400 to 800
IU per day), vitamin C (1,000 mg three times per day), and coenzyme Q10 (10 to
50 mg three times per day)
Vitamins: biotin (300 mcg); B1 (50 to 100 mg), B2 (50 mg), B6 (50 to
100 mg), B12 (100 to 1,000 mcg). B12 may need to be administered through
injection for best results.
Minerals: calcium and magnesium (1,000 and 500 mg per day,
respectively), zinc (30 to 50 mg per day); excess of manganese and copper can
increase the risk for dementia
Intravenous chelating agents such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid
(EDTA) may help restore normal circulation in the brain.
Essential fatty acids, such as those found in alpha linolenic acid
(ALA) and evening primrose oil, help regulate certain types of blood cells,
stabilize arterial walls and have anti-inflammatory properties. Dietary changes
include reducing intake of animal fats and increasing that of
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites
(glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise
indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep
covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots.
Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.
Choose four to six herbs from the most appropriate category and use one cup
or 30 to 60 drops three times per day.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is specific for preventing and treating
Alzheimer's and senile dementia. May be taken in a standardized extract of 40 to
50 mg three times per day. If you are taking an anticoagulant drug, use ginkgo
only under the supervision of your provider.
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is a circulatory
Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) or American
Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)increase endurance and improve
cerebral circulation. Use these herbs with caution if you have high blood
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) reduces spasms and
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) helps with general
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) helps relieve
depression and anxiety.
Some of the most common remedies used for dementia are listed below. Usually,
the dose is 3 to 5 pellets of a 12X to 30C remedy every one to four hours until
your symptoms get better.
Alumina for dullness of mind, vagueness, slow answers to
Argentum nitricum for dementia with irritability, especially
with lack of control over impulses
Cicuta for dementia after head injuries, especially with
Helleborus for stupefaction, when a person answers questions
slowly and stares vacantly
Silica for mental deterioration with anxiety over small
Someone with dementia probably will require continuous care and monitoring by
both your health care provider and family members.
Caregiver and patient education focusing on knowledge of the disease, health,
and the patient's well-being results in better patient care. Caregivers must
also closely monitor patients to make sure they are taking medications
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Review Date: August 1999
Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Dahlia Hirsch, MD, Center for
Holistic Healing, BelAir, MD; R. Lynn Shumake, PD, Director, Alternative
Medicine Apothecary, Blue Mountain Apothecary & Healing Arts, University of
Maryland Medical Center, Glenwood, MD; Leonard Wisneski, MD, FACP, George
Washington University, Rockville, MD; Tom Wolfe, P.AHG, Smile Herb Shop, College
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of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage
to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or
otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents
of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds
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guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information
provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare
practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts)
regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications
before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed