Various complementary and alternative therapies are available to help treat Alzheimer’s disease; however, the success of these treatments is not well documented. Before trying any of these complementary and alternative therapies please talk to your doctor. Your doctor will help you decide if these changes are right for you and will make sure they do not interfere with other treatment options or medications you are taking.
Changing lightening and noise level have been shown to help with agitation and other behavior problems with people who have Alzheimer’s disease. Art and music therapy are beneficial as well. These activities help alleviate symptoms of depression and provide a better quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers have found various vitamins and herbs to be of some possible benefit for treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Phosphatidylserine has shown some benefit in behavioral and depression symptoms. Sage and lemon balm (when used as oil and rubbed on skin) may help calm agitation. Melatonin combined with light therapy may help with behavior and sleep problems.
There is very little evidence of various vitamins and herbs being beneficial. These include Vitamin E, hydergine, Acetyl-L-carnitine , and lecithin. Huperzine A and Vinpocetine could be beneficial to help treat memory loss; however, the evidence is inconclusive. Bee pollen, carnosine, citrulline, 2-dimethylamino-ethanol, inositol, magnesium, pregnenolone, vitamin B1, zinc, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and fish oil have also not been proven beneficial.
There are various treatments that researchers have recommended that people with Alzheimer’s disease should avoid. Gingko biloba may be effective in treating some of the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease; however, there are very harmful drug interactions.
Additional resources that provide an overview of the different complementary and alternative therapies for treating Alzheimer’s disease
- Complementary Medicine: Alzheimer’s Disease (University of Maryland Medical Center)
- Alzheimer’s Disease: Alternative Medicine (Mayo Clinic)
- Complementary Medicine/Alternative Therapies (Alzheimer’s Society)
- Complementary and Alternative Health Care (Alzheimer Society Canada)
Additional resources that provide more information on music and art therapy for treating Alzheimer’s disease
- Music, Art, and Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s Association)
- Education and Care: Music (Alzheimer’s Foundation of America)
- Music Therapy Enhancing Cognition (Alzheimer’s Association)
- Music Therapy (Ohio Department of Aging, The Ohio State University)
- Easing Alzheimer’s Symptoms with Art Therapy (Everyday Health)
Additional resources that provide more information on vitamins and herbal supplements for treating Alzheimer’s disease
- Alternative Treatments (Alzheimer’s Association)
- Alzheimer’s Disease and CAM: What the Science Says (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)
- Herbs and Supplements for Alzheimer’s Disease (University of Maryland Medical Center)