Herbal treatment for Alzheimer’s disease can be taken along with modern medicines to decelerate the progress of the disease and to prevent further damage to the brain cells. Beneficial herbs for Alzheimer’s disease are Acorus Calamus, Licorice, Valeriana wallichii, Withania Somnifera, Bacopa Monnieri and Convolvulus Pluricaulis.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neuro-degenerative disease of the brain in which death of neurons (brain cells) occurs that result in cognitive decline and memory loss. The disease begins with mild symptoms and gets progressively worse resulting in severe symptoms and behavior changes and memory loss.
In Australia, around 110000 people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to the report published by the ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) in the 2009. Seventy percent of them suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and around 43000 people of them with Alzheimer’s disease are living in Victoria and Melbourne. In the US, there are about 4.7 million people of age 65 or above living with Alzheimer’s disease, as per census 2010. Now numbers of patients have gone up to 5.5 million in the US.
Causes of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer risk increases with age, but it is not a normal part of the ageing process. Although, it is a disease related to older age, but it can also start in early age, known as younger onset Alzheimer’s disease. Some mild symptoms often become visible when a person is in his 40s or 50s.
The brain cell death precipitates the Alzheimer’s disease like all other types of dementia. The neuro-degenerative process occurs and progressive brain cell death takes place, which ensues mild to severe form of the disease over a course of time. The total brain size progressively shrinks in this disease. Some research studies suggest that there may be several genes having a relationship with inflammation that may cause the disease, but this is an emerging theory and not perfectly evaluated. Most scientists think that it results from a combination of various factors such as genetic, social & family relationship, lifestyle and environmental causes etc. that have an influence on the brain. However, the effects of the disease are fully cleared, but Alzheimer’s disease is not yet fully understood.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
In the initial stages, Alzheimer’s symptoms are very subtle, so they are very difficult to determine whether Alzheimer’s or other disease. Sometimes, in the early stages, people ignore their symptoms. The noticeable change begins when lapses occur in memory and people find difficulty in remembering the right words for everyday activities and objects.
The following symptoms may include:
- Memory loss
- Vagueness in conversation
- Changes in behavior
- Decreased retention power
- Loss of enthusiasm for routine activities
- Emotional unpredictability
- Loss of social skills
- Inability to follow instructions
- Forgetting the name of famous places and people, which were easily remember-able previously.
The progress of the disease varies person to person and gets worse with different paces. It also depends on the areas of the brain affected with the disease. The symptoms become worse when a person suffers from stress or any disease other disease and experiences body or mental fatigue.
Herbs for Alzheimer’s Diseases
The following herbs are beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease along with conventional medicines.
Vacha (Acorus Calamus)
The Vacha (Calamus) root is used in Indian medicines for neurological diseases and Alzheimer’s disease. It improves the ability to speak proficiently and coordinate the speech. It increases memory and helps to arrest the degeneration of the brain cells.
In Alzheimer, it is very helpful for people with memory loss, problems with speech coordination or vagueness in conversation, loss of enthusiasm and problems with retention power.
Licorice (Glycerrhiza Glabra)
Although, you know about this herb functions in the body, such as it acts as an antacid, beneficial in respiratory diseases, abdominal disorders and lack of strength, but it is also beneficial for improving memory associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Ayurvedic doctors, generally prescribe it, if vata is associated with pitta in Alzheimer’s disease. It is the best remedy if you suffer from irritability, excess sensitiveness, impatience and loss of energy.
Tagara (Valeriana wallichii)
If the Alzheimer patient has difficulty to think and concentrate and problems such dealing with numbers and inability to recognize them, the tagara can help in this case. Tagara improves the capability of thinking and reasoning. However, single herb might not help as expected, so this combination of herbs is highly appreciated for the treatment of this disease.
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is also called Indian Ginseng and it has multiple benefits when a person consumes it in medicinal dosage. It reduces stress and mental fatigue, which trigger some symptoms of the Alzheimer’s disease. Along with other herbs described in this article, it does help to arrest the brain cell degeneration and preclude the memory loss. It increases feeling of well being and provides strength to the mind as well as to the body. It is generally given in all kinds of debility linked to chronic diseases. In addition, it is also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, so it is also helpful in mitigating inflammatory changes in the brain, as it also lowers the inflammation of the joints. Research conducted by National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), Manesar, Gurgaon on mice with Alzheimer’s disease suggests the effectiveness of the ashwagandha root extract in reversal of memory loss and judgment decline.
Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)
Bacopa monnieri helps in Alzheimer’s disease, as it decelerates the progress of the disease. It also acts as anti depressant, tranquilizer and anti-anxiety. It meliorates the brain functions.
Including it in the herbal formula completes the formulation that becomes very useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Brahmi provides relief from symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease such as mood swings, distrust, anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, wandering, irritability, delusion and aggressiveness.
Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus Pluricaulis)
Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus Pluricaulis) improves memory and problems with remembering recent events. It is a brain tonic as well, which is used for relieving mental fatigue and stress.