Alzheimer’s Natural Treatment: Herbal Products & Alternative Treatments

Alzheimer’s Natural Treatment: Herbal Products and Alternative Treatments

At the moment, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Current treatments, including prescription medication (such as rivastigmine, galantamine, and donepezil) and different therapies, can only slow down disease progression for a limited time. 

Not surprisingly, many patients turn to natural treatments to address their symptoms. The problem is that it can be virtually impossible for patients to understand which products are beneficial, and which have been debunked by clinical trials. 

In this article, we’ll review a few natural treatments, including herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and alternative treatments. As much as possible, we look at the scientific evidence behind each product to see whether they can be a suitable choice for you. 

We’ll also describe our evidence-based treatment at Neural Effects. If you’re looking for natural options, our approach combines exercise and cognitive activities to help patients improve their mental health and increase their self-esteem, while avoiding pharmacological treatments. 

Table of Contents

Neural Effects uses the latest evidence-based techniques to stimulate the areas of your brain that need the most help. We are located in Provo, Utah, and serve anyone in Salt Lake City or the Utah Valley area. We are in-network for most types of medical insurance. Schedule your evaluation today.

What to Consider When Choosing a Natural Treatment

Essential Oils and Lavender

There are many herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and “medical foods” available on the market promoted as memory enhancers or treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and other types. 

There are some valid products, but patients should be careful when choosing a natural supplement. Despite the claims, many of these supplements are largely sold based on testimonials rather than a strong body of evidence to support their use, such as clinical studies and meta-analyses. In addition, unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements don’t need to follow FDA’s rigorous review and regulation process. Because of this, it’s not always easy to know whether the claims about a particular supplement have been thoroughly reviewed and tested.

If you’re thinking about using a natural product instead or in addition to prescription drugs, here are some points to consider:

  • Their effectiveness and safety are unknown: As mentioned earlier, natural products sold as dietary supplements don’t have to follow the rigorous process required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a prescription drug. As such, the makers of these products don’t have to provide any evidence to back its effectiveness and safety.
  • Their purity is unknown: Again, as the FDA has no authority over supplement production, it is up to the manufacturer to develop a way to ensure their products are safe and contain the ingredients listed on the label in the specified amounts.
  • They may interact with prescribed medications: Some of these natural products can interact with prescription drugs and cause severe side effects. Before taking any of these products, our advice is to talk to your doctor. Patients should never start a supplement or medication without their physician’s approval.

In the next section, we’ll list some supplements currently marketed for patients with Alzheimer’s. A few of these products have strong evidence to support their use, but most fall under limited research. They may have shown promising results in preliminary studies in the lab, but still need confirmation of their efficacy and safety in large-scale clinical trials and systematic reviews. We also include a few products to avoid, despite the claims they can help. Studies show that these products are either ineffective or even dangerous for patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. 


Strong evidence to support efficacyLimited evidence to support efficacyNo evidence to support efficacy
‣ Omega-3 fatty acids
‣ Green tea
‣ Vitamin B complex
‣ Vitamin C
‣ Ginger
‣ Coenzyme Q10
‣ Turmeric
‣ Phosphatidylserine
‣ Huperzine A
‣ Panax Ginseng
‣ Saffron
‣ Lion’s Mane
‣ Bacopa
‣ Gotu Kola
‣ Ashwagandha
‣ Caprylic acid
‣ Ginkgo Biloba
‣ Vitamin D
‣ Vitamin E
‣ Tramiprosate

The biggest challenge these products face is circumventing the blood-brain barrier (a virtually impermeable barrier protecting the brain) to deliver the active components. Most of these natural products are administered orally, but there is no clear evidence that they can escape the digestive system intact and have access to neurons in the brain. There is some interesting research looking at different ways to administer these products, including nasal application to bypass the blood-brain barrier and capsules to avoid excessive degradation in the stomach. 

Natural Health Products Proven to Help Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease

Pouring a hot cup of green tea

Herbal medicine and other natural products have been used for centuries to treat cognitive problems in elderly patients. In general terms, most appear safe and effective, but they have received very little attention from the scientific community. 

In this section, we’ll highlight supplements and medicinal plants that have some scientific evidence to support their use in patients with Alzheimer’s to enhance cognitive function and alleviate symptoms, such as poor cognition, memory loss, and depression. Although these supplements have been shown to have some beneficial effects, if patients follow a healthy and balanced diet (more on this later), they will already be consuming these products naturally and are unlikely to feel any improvements if they decide to start taking them.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The main omega-3 fatty acid in the brain is called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This fatty acid is found in the membranes surrounding nerve cells and is essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system. 

Studies show that patients with Alzheimer’s disease who have lower levels of omega-3 levels (especially DHA) are more likely to experience a faster cognitive decline, including worsening memory and executive function, compared to patients with higher levels of these fatty acids. Omega-3s are helpful because, among other functions, they promote plasticity in the brain and lower the accumulation of amyloid plaques. 

There is a caveat though. Dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids is only beneficial for patients with Alzheimer’s disease during the very early stages of the disease or in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Omega-3s are helpful before the disease significantly affects brain function, but they provide limited cognitive protection in patients with moderate to late-stage Alzheimer’s. In addition, patients are unlikely to feel any benefits if they’re already taking acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. 

Green Tea

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Green tea in particular has many health benefits, including preventing atherosclerosis, lowering cholesterol, and protecting against cancer, among others. 

In addition, regularly consuming green tea can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease in healthy patients and improve cognitive function. Studies confirm that green tea can delay the formation of amyloid plaque and reduce formation of free radicals which cause oxidative damage in the brain. The main limitation of this supplement is that most of its main chemical components are easily metabolized in the digestive tract and therefore reach the brain only in small amounts. In practical terms, for patients to feel any benefits, they need to drink green tea regularly and not just occasionally. 

Given the promising results in helping patients with Alzheimer’s, researchers are working hard to find a way to increase bioavailability. 

Vitamins B Complex

Vitamins of the B complex — including B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin) — are important in many functions in the body. They are particularly important to control levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. This amino acid is usually high in elderly patients and is associated with strokes, coronary artery disease, and dementia.

Clinical trials of vitamin B supplementation found small improvements in some cognitive functions for patients with mild cognitive impairment, especially for those with high homocysteine levels. In addition, combining vitamin B9 and B12 had a positive effect in patients with Alzheimer’s, especially those who had a diet low in folic acid. With this combination, patients experience better cognitive performance in immediate and delayed memory recall, categorical verbal fluency, processing speed, sustained attention, and working memory among elders.

Vitamin B supplements are safe for most people when taken at recommended doses, but may interact with some prescription drugs.

Vitamin C

Another helpful supplement for patients with Alzheimer’s is vitamin C. This potent antioxidant is believed to help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain and protect nerve cells. Levels of vitamin C are often low in patients with Alzheimer’s and, given the role this vitamin plays in the brain, it’s been suggested that increasing dietary intake can help slow down cognitive decline. 

Studies show that long-term vitamin C supplementation improves cognitive function and reduces the risk of developing dementia in healthy patients. In practical terms, supplementation with this vitamin is likely more beneficial if patients have a poor diet lacking in vitamins. Patients who follow a balanced and healthy diet are unlikely to experience significant benefits.

Natural Products with Limited Evidence to Support Their Use

Natural supplement pills

Some products have the potential to develop into a supplement that can help patients, but evidence at this stage is still limited, and further work is needed. In some cases, it’s a matter of finding the right concentration or form to reach the brain. 


Ginger is widely used as an infusion or as a nutritional supplement to treat a variety of conditions, including diabetes, chemotherapy-induced nausea, arthritis, gastric dysfunction, pain, and respiratory disorders. Some studies also suggest the potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Ginger can inhibit the activity of acetylcholinesterase and similarly improve cognitive function to prescription drugs used for patients with dementia. In addition, it can limit the damaging effects of oxidative stress and protect nerve cells in the brain. 

There haven’t been any large-scale clinical trials looking at ginger yet, but small studies using products containing several herbs including ginger — such as Davaie Loban and Kihito — found important improvements in memory in patients with Alzheimer’s. In addition, ginger can also improve a variety of cognitive functions in healthy people, including memory, attention, learning, language, and reaction time. 

Coenzyme Q10

Also known as ubiquinone, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)is an antioxidant naturally occurring in the body. CoQ10 is essential to multiple bodily functions, including providing energy to cells and preventing oxidative stress.

A few studies show that CoQ10 can benefit patients with heart conditions and Parkinson’s disease, but results are often mixed. In theory, CoQ10 should also be able to reduce amyloid levels in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but a clinical trial failed to show any cognitive benefits after four months of supplementation. So far, the only positive results have been in studies on rodents.

Curiously, CoQ10 was the basis for the development of a drug called idebenone. Initial studies seemed to show this compound could reduce oxidative stress in the brain and improve memory, attention, and behavior in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Eventually, however, researchers concluded that this drug was not helping patients. 

CoQ10 can be found in oily fish, whole grains, and fruit. CoQ10 supplements are widely available over the counter.


One of the main active compounds found in turmeric is called curcumin. This compound has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, and antibacterial properties. In addition, in vitro studies also showed that curcumin can reduce the accumulation of amyloid plaque and lower oxidative damage in the brain, making it a good candidate to treat patients with Alzheimer’s. 

However, oral curcumin is poorly absorbed and easily metabolized in the intestines and liver, making it difficult for significant amounts to reach the brain. For this reason, clinical trials looking at this dietary supplement produced negative or inconclusive results. 

Despite these results, researchers still believe turmeric can potentially be useful as a dietary supplement and are working on new formulations to deliver curcumin to the brain. At the moment there isn’t enough evidence to support its use in dementia patients. 


Phosphatidylserine is a chemical involved in many functions in the human body, especially in the brain. Given its presence in the brain, phosphatidylserine is believed to help older adults with Alzheimer’s disease.

A few clinical trials with phosphatidylserine showed promising results, including better cognitive performance, especially improved learning and language abilities. There is some evidence that phosphatidylserine has a long-term effect and can trigger beneficial structural changes in the brain rather than transient metabolic changes. However, these trials were conducted with small numbers of participants, and more research is needed.

At the moment, the FDA allows supplements containing phosphatidylserine derived from fish or soy to claim that “very limited and preliminary scientific research suggests that phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of dementia in the elderly.” 

It’s important to note that phosphatidylserine should not be taken if patients are on blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin. Phosphatidylserine may cause sleeplessness and it may interact with other medicines for Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma. Our advice is to ask your doctor before taking it.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is extracted from a plant called Huperzia serrata and has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat various conditions, including fever and swelling. As it has properties similar to those of cholinesterase inhibitors — a type of medication commonly prescribed to patients with Alzheimer’s — it’s often also used to treat this condition. 

Some studies suggest that Huperzine A can reduce the accumulation of amyloid plaque, reduce oxidative stress, and protect nerve cells in the brain. However, although a clinical trial with patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s showed that Huperzine A can improve cognitive function, patients failed to feel any benefits in their daily lives. Further studies are needed to fully assess the efficiency of Huperzine A to treat patients with Alzheimer’s. 

There are some concerns that Huperzine A can cause gastrointestinal blockage, affect the liver, and interact with some medications. Talk to your doctor before taking Huperzine A if you already take medicine to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Panax Ginseng

Panax ginseng is a traditional supplement commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. This supplement can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including heart failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and cancer. 

There is also some evidence that it can help patients with Alzheimer’s. These compounds can regulate acetylcholinesterase activity, promote communication between nerve cells, reduce amyloid plaque deposition, and limit brain oxidative damage. Multiple studies show that regular supplementation can improve cognitive function in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. However, these studies only involved a small number of participants and further research is needed. 

Panax ginseng is generally safe, but it may cause insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and high blood pressure in high doses or when combined with other medications.


Saffron is a crimson-colored spice widely cultivated in Iran, India, and Greece. In addition to being used in the textile and cosmetic industries, saffron also boasts a variety of medicinal properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. 

Studies show that this supplement can improve cognitive function in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s at the same rate as prescription drugs donepezil or memantine, with the bonus of fewer side effects. Saffron can likely treat patients with dementia because it can inhibit the aggregation and deposition of beta-amyloid plaques, but this theory still needs confirmation.

As always, our advice is to ask your doctor about using this supplement. Saffron may cause anxiety, appetite changes, and headaches. Patients who take blood pressure medicine or blood thinners should not take saffron.

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane is an edible mushroom found in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for its neuroprotective, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. 

Studies show that lion’s mane can reduce the accumulation of tau protein and amyloid plaque formation as well as increase levels of acetylcholine and choline acetyltransferase in the brain. In addition, this supplement can improve cognitive function in patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, helping these patients perform their activities of daily living for longer. Lion’s mane seems to be well-tolerated and safe for the management of Alzheimer’s disease but further research and large-scale clinical trials are needed. 


Bacopa leaf extract, called Brahmi, is used in Ayurvedic or Indian medicine to treat asthma, epilepsy, insomnia, and rheumatism. In addition, this herb is rich in polyphenolic compounds which limit oxidative stress and age-related cognitive decline in the brain. These compounds can cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain where — at least in theory — they associate with neurotransmitters to enhance memory, learning, and other cognitive functions. 

clinical trial with healthy elderly patients showed that using a product containing Bacopa (and other herbs) improved cognitive function and reduced inflammation in the brain. However, no studies have looked specifically at bacopa to see whether it might be able to help patients with Alzheimer’s. Further investigations are needed to assess the potential neuroprotective action of Bacopa against Alzheimer’s disease.

Bacopa may slow your heart rate. People with stomach ulcers, intestinal or heart problems, or emphysema should not take bacopa.

Gotu Kola

Traditional medicines use Gotu kola to help with brain function. Studies show that certain compounds in this supplement can reduce oxidative stress and protect against damage caused by the amyloid plaques in patients with Alzheimer’s. 

Evidence is still limited, but small studies show that both healthy people and patients with mild cognitive impairment can benefit from this supplement. Some patients also reported feeling better, likely caused by the relaxing effect of Gotu kola. Further research is needed, but initial results are promising.


Ashwagandha (sometimes called Indian ginseng or winter cherry) is one of the most common herbs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. It possesses antioxidant activity and it helps support a healthy immune system. 

This supplement can also protect nerve cells and increase acetylcholine activity, which improves cognitive function. For example, a small study involving 50 patients with mild cognitive impairment showed that using this natural product can improve short and long-term memory, as well as executive function, sustained attention, and information-processing speed. These results indicate positive effects from ashwagandha, but further research is needed. 

Natural Products to Avoid

Pill in clear casing

Despite being marketed as products that help patients with Alzheimer’s, these supplements have failed to show any benefits and are currently not recommended. Some of these may even be harmful to patients with Alzheimer’s. 

Caprylic Acid

Caprylic acid is a medium-chain fatty acid found in coconut oil that the body metabolizes into ketones. A few years ago, caprylic acid was clinically tested as a drug called Ketasyn to treat patients with Alzheimer’s but failed to advance to phase 3 efficacy trials. Instead, this fatty acid is currently marketed as a “medical food” called Axona, which doesn’t need to undergo clinical trials. What’s more, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states this product didn’t meet the required statutory definition and should not be marketed as a medical food. 

The theory behind Axona is that the ketone bodies derived from caprylic acid provide an alternative energy source for brain cells that have lost the ability to use glucose due to Alzheimer’s. Initial reports suggested that Ketasyn improved memory and overall function in patients with Alzheimer’s, but these studies involved minimal participants. So far, the ketone body theory has not been confirmed. There is some preliminary evidence that coconut oil indirectly increases levels of acetylcholinesterase in the brain. Considering that current treatments for patients with Alzheimer’s aim to lower the level of this protein with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, coconut oil may be detrimental to patients with Alzheimer’s. As such, the World Health Organisation advises against consuming large amounts of coconut oil.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a plant extract that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Despite this history, its benefits for patients with Alzheimer’s are dubious. 

Some small-scale studies found that ginkgo biloba extract can slow down cognitive and emotional decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, helping them perform their daily activities for longer. The theory is that ginkgo biloba can reduce amyloid plaque accumulation, limit oxidative stress, and prevent cell death in the brain. However, a large clinical trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health involving over 3,000 patients found that ginkgo was no better than a placebo at delaying dementia symptoms. Similarly, other studies found no improvements in language, attention, or memory

It’s important to know that ginkgo biloba can interact with many prescription medications and be harmful to people taking blood-thinning medication. If you’re considering taking ginkgo biloba, our advice is to consult with your doctor first. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D — which comes from food or via our skin when stimulated by sunlight — is needed for brain development. 

It’s usually believed that low levels of vitamin D may be linked with a higher risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. However, results from multiple clinical trials found no overall benefit of supplementation with vitamin D. In fact, recent findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency is more likely to be an early consequence of the disease rather than a cause. In addition, prolonged consumption of high levels of vitamin D may exacerbate symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and increase mortality rates. The current recommendation is to avoid dietary supplementation with vitamin D. 

Vitamin E 

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant in the brain, protecting nerve cells against oxidative damage that contributes to cognitive decline.

Despite this, most studies failed to see any improvements in cognitive function after supplementation with vitamin E in healthy elderly patients, as well as those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild to moderate dementia. As a result, this supplement is currently not recommended for patients with dementia. 


Tramiprosate is a modified form of taurine, an amino acid naturally found in seaweed. Small studies show that tramiprosate can reduce the formation of amyloid plaques, and slow down atrophy of the hippocampus, leading to improvements in memory and language in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. 

However, when tested in a large-scale clinical trial as a possible Alzheimer’s treatment, tramiprosate failed to produce conclusive results. Manufacturers decided to abandon the development of tramiprosate as a new prescription drug and instead started marketing it as a “medical food.” At the moment, this product is not recommended for patients with Alzheimer’s. 

Alternative Treatments

Women receiving acupuncture

In addition to herbal preparations, patients with Alzheimer’s may also use alternative treatments such as acupuncture and aromatherapy. 


Acupuncture is believed to promote self-healing by using fine, sterile needles. This technique is mainly used to relieve pain associated with a variety of conditions, including headaches, back pain, fibromyalgia, and chemotherapy-induced nausea. 

This alternative therapy can also help patients with Alzheimer’s by reducing abnormal protein expression in the brain, reducing neuroinflammation, improving neuroplasticity, and limiting oxidative stress in the brain. Clinical trials effectively prove that acupuncture can help cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, especially if combined with prescription drugs. As a result, patients often experience better cognitive function and higher quality of life. 

If you would like to try acupuncture, our advice is to find a trained and licensed practitioner with experience dealing with patients with dementia. 


Certain essential oils derived from plants can be used in aromatherapy. Rosemary, lemon, frankincense, lavender, and orange essential oils, in particular, can improve cognitive abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s. For example, lemon essential oil improves cognition in patients with dementia, while lavender oil improves mood and reduces occurrences of aggressive behavior. 

Despite these promising results, large-scale and long-term studies on these interventions are lacking to draw definitive conclusions on the benefits of essential oils in treating patients with Alzheimer’s. Further work is needed to confirm the benefits.

Combine Physical Exercise & Cognitive Therapy at Neural Effects

Seniors playing a memory game

Another natural way to address dementia symptoms is through a combination of physical exercise and cognitive stimulation therapy (described in detail here) — the approach we use for the treatment of Alzheimer’s at our clinic, Neural Effects. 

Combining physical and cognitive activities works because physical exercise triggers the release of an important neurochemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF helps the brain be more receptive to change, allowing patients to learn better and benefit more from therapy shortly after exercise.

Treatment starts with a detailed dementia patient evaluation. This assessment includes a neuropsychological exam (also called a neurocognitive evaluation) to determine exactly how Alzheimer’s has affected the brain, as well as physical, cognitive, and emotional tests. Typically, this takes about 2-2.5 hours to complete. Even if patients already have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, they still need to complete this exam as it provides useful information to help our therapists make important decisions regarding their treatment. 

All information gathered during this evaluation is used to create a cognitive care plan (CCP). Every patient gets a personalized care plan, even if they decide not to continue treatment with us. The CCP includes the following health information:

  • Diagnosis
  • Results from the assessment
  • Risk factors for progression and discussion of how the disease is likely to progress
  • Lifestyle changes that may help the patient
  • Suggestions for family involvement
  • Recommended treatment options

Once this exam is completed, patients can start their therapy sessions. Our treatment plan includes two one-hour sessions per week for seven weeks, for a total of 14 sessions. Each session starts with about 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise, usually done on a stationary bike or treadmill. We understand that elderly patients may have mobility issues and our therapists are trained to adapt the exercises in intensity and duration to ensure patients don’t get injured. 

After exercise, patients engage in various cognitive activities to stimulate concentration, thinking, and memory, including discussing past and present events, playing word games and puzzles, or listening to music. The sessions are run by two facilitators working with a small group of up to six patients. These facilitators guide the discussions and encourage patients to socialize with each other. 

Our team knows that family support is very important. We invite loved ones and caregivers to attend the first session and learn more about CST. This way, they can support the patient at home and repeat some of the games used during our sessions. Our therapists also meet with family members to discuss information about lifestyle changes (see below for some suggestions) that may help the patient and share resources, including suggestions for support groups in their area for both patients and their caregivers.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Active seniors walking their bicycles

In addition to the natural treatments described above, patients with Alzheimer’s should be encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices as a way to delay the progression of symptoms and improve their quality of life. Studies show that choosing a healthy lifestyle, such as engaging in regular exercise, staying socially and mentally active, and following a healthy diet, for example, can have a tremendous impact on the patient’s physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities as well as their brain health. 

Engage in Regular Exercise

Many studies show a clear link between physical activity and cognitive function. Exercise reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life and helps slow down symptoms of cognitive decline. In addition, people who stay physically active throughout their lives are less likely to experience brain shrinkage than those who do not. 

Any type of exercise is helpful, but it should include some form of aerobic exercise to promote blood flow to the brain (as we described earlier). Good forms of exercise include walking, running, swimming, and aerobics classes. 

It’s important to find activities that work for you. You might find it helpful to start with a small amount of activity and then build up gradually.

Here are some recommendations to keep in mind:

  • Choose something you enjoy and it’s more likely that you’ll keep doing it.
  • Try using a wearable gadget or a smartphone app to track your progress. Set yourself a target and try to reach it. 
  • You might find workout videos helpful if you prefer to exercise at home.
  • Find local groups like hiking or cycling clubs. These provide a good way to exercise and interact with people. In some areas, there are specific fitness activities for patients with dementia, such as dementia-friendly swimming or dance classes.  
  • If you’re experiencing mobility issues, you can still engage in chair-based exercises to stretch and increase fitness.

We recommend at least 30 minutes every day, five days a week. This can be broken down into multiple sessions throughout the day, with each session lasting a minimum of 10 minutes. 

Follow a Healthy Diet

Another way to delay the progression of symptoms is with a healthy and balanced diet. Patients can follow the MIND diet, which combines a traditional Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (designed to lower high blood pressure). Studies show this diet can slow down brain aging at the equivalent of 7.5 years. This diet also reduces the risk of developing or worsening conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood glucose, and other conditions that may aggravate symptoms of Alzheimer’s. 

Recently, the keto diet has also been shown to help patients with Alzheimer’s. This diet seems to lower oxidative stress in the brain, regulate energy metabolism, control inflammation, and protect nerve cells. 

Follow these tips for a healthy diet:

  • Eat plenty of nuts, fruits, and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants and high in fiber.
  • Avoid refined foods such as white bread, pasta, and especially sugar. Opt for whole-grain products.
  • Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats and cold-water fish.
  • Use healthy oils in foods, such as olive oil.
  • Eat low-fat dairy products.
  • Reduce or eliminate trans-fats, commonly found in processed foods, such as cookies, cakes, french fries, and donuts.
  • Avoid salty products, such as bacon.
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.

Stay Socially Active

Staying socially active and in touch with friends and family helps patients with Alzheimer’s to feel better and improves their quality of life. Patients who isolate themselves at home are more likely to develop anxiety and depression. Lonely patients are also more likely to drink heavily, smoke, avoid exercise, and be overweight, all of which exacerbate dementia symptoms. 

Patients can join an art club, volunteer for a local charity, or go out with friends. For patients who struggle with mobility, even just calling their loved ones for a regular chat can help. 

It may seem a simple task, but having a conversation with someone can also exercise a wide range of cognitive skills, including: 

  • Focusing on what the other person is saying.
  • Finding the right way to express yourself by putting words together in the right order for someone to understand.
  • Recalling events that have happened in the past that are relevant to the conversation.

Challenge the Brain

Engaging in activities that challenge the brain also helps delay disease progression by stimulating the formation of new neural pathways and facilitating communication between nerve cells. In addition, patients have higher self-esteem and find it easier to carry out their daily tasks. 

It’s important to pick an activity that the patient can enjoy and not get frustrated if they can’t do it. Anything that can help patients think quickly, recall information, or make decisions can improve cognitive function.

Some examples of challenging your brain include:

  • Playing games and puzzles
  • Learning a new skill, such as how to play a musical instrument
  • Reading
  • Using apps for brain games
  • Rekindling an old hobby or finding a new one
  • Engaging in activities that require coordination, such as arts and crafts
  • Playing board games with friends and family
  • Enrolling in local adult education classes

Follow a Healthy Sleep Routine

It’s common for patients with Alzheimer’s to experience sleep disturbances, such as difficulty falling asleep at night and waking up frequently during the night. If this occurs regularly, it may aggravate symptoms and lower the patient’s quality of life. Studies show that even just one night of poor sleep can trigger an accumulation of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Some patients also experience a phenomenon in the evening called sundowning, where they feel confused, agitated, anxious, and aggressive as it gets dark. 

For this reason, following a good sleep routine is crucial for patients with Alzheimer’s. Tips for healthy sleep hygiene include:

  • Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, even on holidays and weekends
  • Sleeping in a cool, dark, and quiet environment
  • Avoiding exposure to blue light from electronic devices in the evening 
  • Limiting the consumption of caffeinated drinks in the afternoon 
  • Avoiding exercise immediately before going to bed
  • Engaging in a relaxing activity before going to sleep, such as meditating or listening to calming music
  • Limiting daytime naps to 20-30 minutes

Conclusion: Choose Supplements Wisely and Lean Into a Healthy Lifestyle for the Best Results

As outlined in the article, while there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, integrating specific supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, that have some backing in scientific research, can be beneficial. However, caution is paramount as many supplements are not FDA-regulated, posing risks related to purity, effectiveness, and potential interactions with prescribed medications. Patients must consult healthcare professionals before beginning any new supplement regimen to ensure safety and appropriateness.

Additionally, adopting a healthy lifestyle plays a critical role in managing Alzheimer’s symptoms. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, socialization, and cognitive engagement are recommended. The combination of these can help slow down the progression of symptoms and enhance quality of life. 

Lastly, for those exploring natural treatment avenues, it is also worth considering treatment options like those offered at Neural Effects, which combine physical and cognitive therapy to help Alzheimer’s patients slow disease progression and maintain autonomy for longer. Our comprehensive evaluations and personalized care plans include lifestyle modifications and resources for caregivers, potentially amplifying the effectiveness of both natural and conventional treatments.

We are located in Provo, Utah, and serve anyone in Salt Lake City or the Utah Valley area. We are in-network with most types of medical insurance. 

Contact us to schedule an appointment to determine if our treatment program is right for you.