What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in older people. A dementia is a medical condition that disrupts the way the brain works. AD affects the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Although the risk of getting the disease increases with age, it is not a normal part of aging.
Alzheimer’s Disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German doctor. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. He found abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles). Today, these plaques and tangles in the brain are considered signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease Causes
Although the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet known, several theories are currently being studied by Scientists. It is suspected that Alzheimer’s disease may be caused by a number of complex and interrelated factors over many years. Age is the most important known risk factor. In addition to age and family history, risk factors for AD may include:
- Longstanding high blood pressure
- History of head trauma
- High levels of homocysteine (a body chemical that contributes to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, depression, and possibly AD)
- Female gender — because women usually live longer than men, they are more likely to develop AD
The environmental factors that may contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease have yet to be identified. A few years ago, there were concerns that exposure to aluminum might cause Alzheimer’s disease. However, these fears have largely been discounted.
Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may experience lapses of memory and have problems finding the right words. As the disease progresses they may:
- Become confused, and frequently forget the names of people, places, appointments and recent events.
- Experience mood swings. They may feel sad or angry. They may feel scared and frustrated by their increasing memory loss.
- Become more withdrawn due either to a loss of confidence or to communication problems.
- Behavioral and personality changes
As the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer’s will need more support from those who care for them. Eventually they will need help with all their daily activities.
While there are some common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to remember that everyone is unique. No two cases of Alzheimer’s are likely to be the same. People always experience illness in their own individual way.
Home remedies for Alzheimer’s disease
- Butcher’s broom promotes healthy circulation.
- Ginkgo biloba extract, taken in liquid or capsule form, act as an antioxidant and increases blood flow to the brain.
- Kava kava and St. John’s wort help calm people who anger easily.
- Vitamin E supplements to prevent red blood cell destruction, thereby maintaining oxygen blood flow to the brain.
- Valerian root improves sleep patterns when taken at bedtime.
- The Chinese herb qian ceng ta (Huperzia serata) increases memory retention. This is the same herb that is the source of huperzine A, and it is also known as club moss. Pure and standardized extracts of this herb have been shown to increase clearheadedness, language ability, and memory in a significant percentage of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a potent blocker of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that regulates the activity of acetylcholine, which is an important chemical of the brain that maintains healthy learning and memory functions.
- Take a fish oil supplement which contains a daily dosage of 1,000mg of DHA. Supplies essential fatty acids.
- Include plenty of fiber in your diet. Try oat bran or rice bran.
Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
At this time, there is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. While none of these products or substances have been proven to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are studying the possibility that you may be able to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or delay the onset of the disease by:
- Avoid alcohol, cigarette smoke, processed foods, and environmental toxins, especially metals such as aluminum and mercury. Smoking more’ than doubles the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet. While recent studies have not substantiated a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease, it is still wise to avoid aluminum intake as much as possible. All metals in excess are toxic to the body.
- Using your brain, remaining busy, writing, reading and learning new things are important overall factors in staying sharp and preventing mental disorders.
- The signs of alcohol abuse and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be very similar. For example, actress Rita Hayworth, who had Alzheimer’s disease, was at first thought to be an alcoholic.
- Experts say that it is in an individual’s best interest to be told as soon as there is reason to suspect a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Early warning cannot prevent the disease, but it gives people time to settle their affairs and make informed judgments about future care and other matters.
- Ensure medication is closely supervised, it’s very easy for the person with Alzheimer’s disease to forget they have had their medication, and take it again repeatedly.
- In a number of retrospective studies, regular physical exercise has appeared to be inversely related to the development of Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s risk of those exercising regularly was half that of the least active. This research is consistent with the observation that virtually all measures designed to promote cardiac fitness and reduce stroke risk also seem to reduce Alzheimer’s risk.