Herbal remedies for Alzheimer’s disease have become more and more popular in the recent years and not without a reason. That there is a possibility to slow down the brain’s degeneration caused by Alzheimer’s with natural treatments has drawn the attention of the scientific community.
Many natural herbal treatments have been researched and the benefits derived from using herbal treatments for Alzheimer’s and dementia have been very promising and the use of some medicinal herbs have been touted to extend beyond that of modern prescription drugs.
With so many natural and healthy compounds, it is no wonder that these medicinal herbs may hold the key to the cure to this devastating disease. In addition, these herbs are inexpensive and can be easily obtained.
Medicinal Herbs for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
Gingko Biloba (Ginkgo Biloba)
Probably the best known herbal remedy for Alzheimer’s disease. Used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, the benefits of using natural herbs such as gingko biloba have been supported by research (ProHealth, 2008). Using gingko may reduce memory loss, enhance brain activity and possibly slowing down the degenerative effects of AD.
In controlled clinical trials, utilizing a placebo and control group, ginkgo biloba extracts have been reported to provide therapeutic benefits to Alzheimer’s similar to prescription drugs such as Donepezil or Tactrin, with minimal undesirable side effects (Pickering, et al., 1999). According to the Medical Research Council of Newcastle General Hospital (1999), the gingkolides in Ginkgo Biloba contain activities pertinent to the disease mechanisms in Alzheimer’s such as antioxidant, neuroprotective and cholinergic activities.
Sage (Salvia Officinalis)
Salvia officinalis, or sage as it is more commonly referred to, is another medicinal herb used for Alzheimer’s disease treatment. It has been reported to assist the brain in the fight against AD. Long believed by herbalists to be a brain tonic, scientists are finally coming to understand that the oil in sage helps boost the memory, which is progressively challenged in Alzheimer’s patients.
At the Medicinal Plant Research Centre at Newcastle and Northumbria universities in the United Kingdom, 44 adults between the ages of 18 to 37 were given capsules with sage oil in them, while a placebo group received similar capsules but with sunflower oil (Medical News Today, 2003). It was reported that those who consumed the sage oil capsules had remembered more words than the placebo group, in addition to performing better consistently (Medical News Today, 2003).
Sage has been recommended as far back as the 16th century, with John Gerard (famous for his botanical garden) stating, “It is singularly good for the head and brain and quickened the nerves and memory” (Medical News Today, 2003). According to Professor Elaine Perry of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in Northern England, in an article in HealthWire (2004), sage boosts memory, in addition to having an effect on attitude and behavior, two other components affected by Alzheimer’s.
The Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 2003 printed a clinical study on the effects of sage where 30 people having mild to moderate Alzheimer’s were given either 60 drops of sage daily or a placebo. Amazingly, those who took the sage improved in the Alzheimer’s test by 26%, whereas the placebo group dropped scores by 22% (Fuller, 2007). This speaks volumes about the value of sage as an herbal remedy for Alzheimer’s patients.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
According to research studies, rosemary could be a natural remedy for Alzheimer’s by improving memory.
One of the leading authorities on medicinal plants, Dr. James Duke, former U.S. Department of Agriculture Chief of Medicinal Plant Research (2008) goes as far as saying that rosemary actually retards the progress of Alzheimer’s, stating “Rosemary contains more than a dozen antioxidants and a half-dozen compounds reported to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine. It’s great news that the classical herb of remembrance has so many compounds that might help people suffering from this disease.”
Other natural herbs that have used for Alzheimer’s disease treatment.
- Turmeric – (Curcuma longa)
- German Chamomile – (Chamomilla recutita)
- Panax Ginseng – (Panax Ginseng)
- Licorice – (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- White Willow Bark – (Salix alba)
- Ginger – (Zingiber officinale)
- Chinese Knotweed or Fo-Ti – (Polygonum multiflorum)
- Stinging Nettle – (Urtica dioica)
- Maca – (Lepidium meyenii)
- Maritime Pine Bark – (Pinus pinaster)
- Lemon Balm – (Melissa officinalis)
- Avocado – (Persea americana)
- Rhodiola – (Rhodiola rosea)
What to Keep in Mind When Using Herbal Remedies for Alzheimer’s disease
Always consult your health care provider or practitioner before starting using herbal remedies for Alzheimer’s.
It is advisable to discuss any and all herbs, vitamins, or other medications that one is taking or considering taking with their health care practitioner.
Keep in mind that medicinal herbs can interact with other drugs or even other supplements that you might already be taking.
Medical Research Council, Pickering, et al,
Medicinal Plants and Alzheimer’s disease:
From Ethno botany to Phytotherapy, 527-34.
Medical News Today. Sage Seems to Boost Memory.
Professor Elaine Perry. HealthWire. Study:
Plant Extracts May Ease Dementia Symptoms. Liverpool, England. (2004). David Fuller. Health First: Herbs and Alzheimer’s. (2007).
Barbra Cohn. Better Nutrition. Remembering Rosemary:
This Culinary Delight Packs Oxidants. June 1998.