Benefits of CAM Therapies for Dementia

May 16, 2013
James Lake, MD

Volume 30, Issue 5

Which of the following complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies may have beneficial effects on symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer disease (AD)?

Which of the following complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies may have beneficial effects on symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer disease (AD)? Integrative psychiatry specialist, James Lake, MD, answers this question and discusses the latest research in this Q&A. Take the quiz and test your knowledge.

For the answer and discussion, please click here

Answer: E(All of the above)

The above-mentioned CAM therapies may reduce symptoms of MCI and AD.

Discussion

Select CAM therapies may lessen symptoms of cognitive impairment related to AD, stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and normal aging.

Dietary changes that are correlated with a reduced risk of AD include restricted intake of saturated fats and moderate wine consumption. Regular aerobic exercise may also reduce the risk of any kind of dementia. There is evidence that Ginkgo biloba is an effective treatment of moderate cognitive impairment in early AD and vascular dementia.1 Phosphatidylserine and huperzine A are other natural products that will probably play increasingly important roles as adjunctive agents or stand-alone treatments in early or moderate AD, MCI, and age-related cognitive decline.

In addition, cytidinediphosphocholine (CDP-choline) holds promise as a treatment of cognitive impairment following stroke or TBI. The essential oils of lemon balm and common sage reduce agitation and nighttime anxiety (eg, “sundowning”) in individuals with dementia when applied to the arms and face.

Regular music therapy may yield transient improvements in agitated behavior and cognitive functioning in patients with AD. Research findings suggest that regular Healing Touch and Therapeutic Touch may have beneficial calming effects and improve global functioning in AD.2,3