Senior couple looking at medication bottles.

The Alzheimer’s Association is informing the public about which dementia substances to avoid.

As the expression goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That could easily be applied to the recent information in Alzheimer’s news about the increase of corporations offering alternative supplements, dietary programs, and herbal concoctions as a way to treat, or at the very least minimize the ramifications of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association wants to warn us, however, to proceed with careful attention when exploring treatment options for a senior with dementia – and always get the physician’s approval before trying anything new.

Some of the current trends in managing the disease, which are not in the FDA’s research and approval process and are centered on individual testimonials rather than fact-based science, include ginkgo biloba, coral calcium, coconut oil, huperzine A and CoQ10 – an antioxidant produced naturally but in declining amounts as we grow older. In particular, the Alzheimer’s Association reports their concerns about these and other popular alternative treatments:

  • Ginkgo biloba: Clinical trials of thousands of adults over age 75 have found no statistical distinction between those taking this plant extract and those taking a placebo.
  • Coral calcium: Coral calcium has been shown to deliver no significant health benefits, and those promoting and distributing it as relief from Alzheimer’s are currently under investigation with formal complaints filed by both the FTC and FDA.
  • Coconut oil: Promises are that coconut oil may provide an alternate energy source to brain cells in the place of reduced glucose levels in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association cautions that while there may be advantages, no clinical testing or scientific evidence is available.
  • Huperzine A: Used as a conventional Chinese healing product, huperzine A is a moss extract available as an unregulated dietary supplement. A clinical trial was conducted by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study that showed no benefit to huperzine A in Alzheimer’s patients, and that serious side effects may occur when taken in combination with other Alzheimer’s treatments.
  • CoQ10: While CoQ10 is a naturally-occurring antioxidant in the body, it has not been investigated for its usefulness in treating Alzheimer’s disease, and actually could cause harm to the older adult if ingested in large amounts.

The conclusion? Talk with your senior loved one’s physician about treatment plans for Alzheimer’s and stick to their guidelines carefully. For more information about effective and safe Alzheimer’s care, provided in the comfort of home, get in touch with Atlanta Home Care Partners’ specialized dementia care team. Our Atlanta care staff are professionally trained as Alzheimer’s Whisperers and experienced in patient and compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia home care, allowing seniors to keep the highest possible quality of life, safety, independence and respect. Call us at (404) 228-0103 or contact us online for a free of charge in-home consultation or to learn more about our home care services.