A recent article published online at the JAMA network looked at the rise of different therapies being promoted for dementia and brain health.

In particular, the article took aim at the supplement market. The author argues, ‘the most common example of pseudomedicine is the promotion of dietary supplements to improve cognition and brain health.”

We know from the scientific evidence that lifestyle changes and cognitive exercise can benefit brain health. The article agrees with that approach. However, it takes issue when these approaches add supplements and then sell them as a detailed protocol.


Where is the Drug Industry on This?

Interestingly, the article is getting pushback from individuals. Chris Exley from Keele University points out that:

“It is all very well to criticise ‘alternative’ therapies for Alzheimer’s disease except you should also include in your analysis that there are no effective therapies for AD. Not one of the 4 drugs available to AD clinicians has any significant benefit in AD. In spite of this taxpayers fund the pharmaceutical industry to the tune of billions of dollars for drugs that do not work. In the UK , NICE, does not recommend any drugs for AD and yet they are prescribed both to give the hapless AD consultant an option (who wants to tell someone with AD that there is no hope) and to support the pharmaceutical industry.

I agree that it is wrong to give false hope through alternative remedies but it is equally wrong to push drugs that do not work to people diagnosed with AD.”


What Should You Do?

With access to medical information on the internet, it is not uncommon for individuals to educate themselves on different approaches. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It helps inform your discussion with your physician about best approaches.

It helps to keep in mind what you are trying to achieve. With Alzheimer’s disease the focus needs to be on managing the disease not curing. And in that case, exercising your brain and your body will help you do that.

So what do you think?

Where do alternative therapies fit on the spectrum of approaches to living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia?