Dementia

Symptoms   Causes   Nutrition  

Memory and Dementia

The many types of dementia have in common a loss of cognitive capacity, and restricted memory, reasoning ability, and sometimes movement weaknesses. Vascular dementia, caused by restricted blood floor to the brain, is second only to Alzheimer's. Other types include subcortical vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and frontotemporal demential. Patients experience poor motor functions, brain fog, and psychological symptoms. Read more about the types of dementia.

Conventional Treatment

There are many drugs that have been approved for use with Alzheimer’s patients which may slow its progression. Some of them may be appropriate for other forms of dementia.

Given the connection of cardiovascular health, neuroprotective effects of drugs used in patients with cardiovascular disease have great potential and these would add benefits to patients’ overall outcome.

Drugs used for the treatment of AD include tacrine and donepezil. Deonepezil inhibits acetylcholinesterase (AChE); by increasing levels of available acetylcholine, and may compensate for the loss of functioning cholinergic brain cells.

Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs may slow dementia progression.

Dementia caused by small strokes cannot be treated medically; however, treating co-existing conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, can slow or stop the progression of symptoms.

If depression is the cause, antidepressants and counseling may help.

If dementia is caused by hydrocephalus, removing excess fluid by shunting may help.

Antipsychotic drugs such as thorazine or haloperidol may be prescribed if the patient has paranoia or hallucinations.

For those with cardiovascular risk factors, studies indicate early intervention could reduce the risk of several cognitive deficits.

Complementary Treatment

Diet and Nutrition

Our new guide, Natural Brain Care provides details and peer-reviewed research about the different nutrients listed below as well as additional nutrients.

Top brain nutrients that have the widest range of brain benefits include: acetyl-L-carnitine, ashwagandha, apigenin, curcumin, DHA (or fish oil), gingko biloba, ginseng, grapeseed extract, green tea extract, lutein, N-acetyl-cysteine, resveratrol, olive leaf extract, phosphatidylserine, PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone), vinpocetine, vitamin E, and zeaxanthin.
See nutrients for brain support.

Top brain foods include avocado, blueberries (and other dark berries) dark chocolate, eggs, fish, fruits and vegetables, goji berry, green and black teas, mulberry, nuts. mushrooms (reiki, shitake, and lion’s mane for example), pomegranate juice, prunes, pumpkin seeds, yogurt (organic plain), and walnuts.

Nutrient deficiencies that can mimic dementia include vitamins B1, B6, B12, D3, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, as well as low levels of serotonin (essential neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and acts as a hormone in the periphery) and dopamine (a hormone).

Essential and aromatic oils. Essential and aromatic oils are great for helping support memory and cognition, improving circulation, reducing inflammation, reducing anxiety and depression, improving digestion and sleep, and much more. Top essential oils include bergamot, ginger, lavender, lemon balm, frankincense, peppermint, rosemary, sage, and ylang ylang.

Juicing recipe. Green, leafy vegetables, broccoli, avocado, apples, berries (especially blueberries), strawberry, bilberry, black currant, blackberry, mulberry, lemon, goji berries, chia seeds, kale, citrus fruits, apple, curcumin, garlic, parsley, pomegranate juice, prunes, walnuts, yogurt.

Lifestyle Tips

Exercise. Many researchers have noted that exercise enhances and protects cognition and sensorimotor functions. Regular exercise might delay a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found that two and one-half hours of walking or other physical activity a week thwarts mental decline tied to autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease (ADAD), a genetic form of Alzheimer’s. Participants of the study did at least 150 minutes a week of walking, running, swimming or other exercise. The result was lowered levels of key biological markers of Alzheimer's disease in their cerebrospinal fluid, including tau (a protein that builds up in the brains of people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s).1 Another study showed that people with a history of exercise that have the ApoE4 gene (that increases the risk of AD onset 10-30%) did not develop dementia and has less b-amyloid in their brains.2

Meditation. Studies show that meditation reduces stress and changes brain structure. In one meta-analysis, the study compared those that meditated with non-meditators. The result was that the meditators showed better interoceptive and exteroceptive awareness, memory, emotional regulation, intra and interhemispheric communication between brain regions.3 There is evidence that even a short-term meditation practice may alter large-scale brain networks. In beginners after two weeks of training, an increase in functional connections were detected, involving the neural circuitry related to attention, cognitive and affective processing among others.4

Mental health. Manage stress levels. Preventing and managing long-term stress can lower your risk for other conditions like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression.5

Seek the positive. Socialize with positive people. Avoid focusing your attention on the negative news of disasters, political problems, etc. Instead, lend your attention to positive and uplifting news. In other words, consider the old saying, "my cup is not half empty, but half full."

Footnotes

1. Müller S, Preische O, Sohrabi HR, Gräber S, Jucker M, et al. (2018). Relationship between physical activity, cognition, and Alzheimer pathology in autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Dement. Nov;14(11):1427-1437.
2. Head D, Bugg JM, Goate AM, Fagan AM, Mintun MA, et al. (2012). Exercise engagement as a moderator of the effect of ApoE genotype on amyloid deposition. Arch Neurol. May;69(5):636-43.
3. Fox KC, Nijeboer S, Dixon ML, Floman JL, Ellamil M, et al. (2014). Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014 Jun; 43:48-73.
4. Tang YY, Tang Y, Tang R, Lewis-Peacock JA. (2017). Brief Mental Training Reorganizes Large-Scale Brain Networks. Front Syst Neurosci. 2017; 11:6.
5. Yang L, Zhao Y, Wang Y, Liu L, Zhang X, et al. (2015). The Effects of Psychological Stress on Depression. Urr Neuropharmacol. 2015;13(4):494-504.