Definition: Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition that damages the areas of the brain involved with memory, intelligence, judgment, behavior and language. It is the most common form of mental decline, or dementia in older adults. Alzheimer’s is more severe than the mild memory loss that many people encounter as they grow older. It affects not only memory, but behavior, the ability to think and to function from day to day, and personality. Generally close family members notice the symptoms first.
Symptoms: Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s relies primarily on the appearance of symptoms. The main symptoms, memory loss and the loss of the ability to communicate, become more pronounced as time goes on. They might start to have trouble doing daily tasks, might appear disoriented or lost in familiar settings, and may also display personality changes. They may also develop depression, paranoia, or general unease.
Risk Factors: Family History of Alzheimer’s Disease
Presence of apolipoprotein E-4 gene
Smoking. Studies have been done that show that more cases of Alzheimer’s develop in men and women who smoke than in people that do not smoke.
Head Injury. There is growing evidence that head injuries can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in people who have a family history of Alzheimer’s.
Elevated homocysteine levels. Research is suggesting that people with higher homocysteine levels are at an increased risk for Alzheimer’s. This can be caused by low levels of vitamin B12 and folate.
Exposure to lead. The research is early, but studies indicate that people who have been exposed to lead may be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Exposure to Zinc. Studies are inconclusive at this point, but evidence is showing that zinc may play a role in Alzheimer’s. Zinc is an important part of a healthy diet, so make sure that you get your zinc in an organic form, just to be on the safe side.
Exposure to Aluminum. Studies are contradictory, but have shown that inorganic aluminum may cause Alzheimer’s. To be on the safe side, don’t cook with aluminum pans, and get your aluminum organically.
Depression. Studies show that those with depression are 58% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Herbal Aids: MEM Formula. According to Master Herbalist Nathan Jaynes, MEM is the formula for Alzheimers. MEM increase the brains ability to function.
Gingko. Increases circulation to the brain, aids in countering memory loss.
Rosemary. Rosemary has been traditionally known as the remembrance herb. Using rosemary in cooking, as well as the essential oil would probably be beneficial. Other Treatments: Sunshine and Exercise. Studies have been done that have shown that 20 minutes of sunshine and exercise a day lead to a marked improvement among Alzheimer’s patients.
Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are high in lecithin, which contains choline. Choline is a building block of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine breakdown has been shown to be a factor in Alzheimer’s.
Keeping Active. Keeping both the body and the mind active will go a long way to staving off Alzheimer’s disease.
Gardening: James Duke recommends keeping an herb garden as not only a source of herbs to combat Alzheimer’s, but as a way to preserve brain function. Gardening requires thought, creativity, and physical activity.