Dementia is a neurological symptom characterized by progressive deterioration of cognitive function often occurring with advanced age, and is often one of the most serious aspects of chronic disease. Alzheimer's Disease is primary condition associated with dementia. Dementia can be debilitating to affected individuals and their caregivers.
|Causes||Heavy Metals, Environmental Toxins, Injuries, Dietary Factors|
|See Also||Neurological Conditions, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease|
|Books||Books on Neurological Conditions|
|Articles||Articles on Neurological Conditions|
In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. Dementia is a symptom associated with other conditions, yet there are specific factors that influence the risk including:
- Increasing fish consumption may be protective in development of dementia based on its anti-inflammatory benefits, and ability to counter atherosclerosis.
- Individuals consuming a diet resembling the typical Mediterranean diet with only moderate alcohol consumption have a lower rate of dementia.
- Nutritional deficiencies, especially deficiencies in B vitamins, iron, zinc, calcium or omega-3 fatty acids can increase the risk of dementia.
- Diets high in sugars, both glucose and fructose, contribute to dementia.
- Even moderate exercise in mid and late life decreases the risk for developing mild cognitive decline and dementia.
- Leisure Activities
- Studies have demonstrated that leisure activities such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments, and dancing all resulted in decreased risk and progression of dementia.
- Substance abuse
There is no confirmatory laboratory testing or physical examination. The diagnosis of dementia is made clinically using the following DSM-IV criteria:
- A. Development of multiple cognitive defects manifested by both
- 1. Memory impairment
- 2. One or more of the following:
- i. Aphasia (language disturbance)
- ii. Apraxia (motor activity disturbance despite normal motor function)
- iii. Agnosia (inability to recognize objects)
- iv. Disturbance of executive functioning
- B The defects in A1 and A2 present significant daily impairment, and the abilities of the individual are markedly declined based on previous behaviour.
- ApoE4 genetic defect may increase the risk of dementia.
Related Symptoms and Conditions
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Parkinson's disease
- Brain tumour
- Liver or kidney failure
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
- Individuals with cerebrovascular disease have an increased risk of developing dementia. Individuals suffering from dementia are at higher risk of cardio-vascular events, suggesting a connection between dementia and cerebrovascular disease.
- Prolonged hypertension
- Type II diabetes increases the risk of cognitive impairment in the elderly. Individuals with diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hypercholesterolemia face an even higher risk of developing dementia.
- Sleep Apnea increases the risk.
Depending on the cause of dementia the pathophysiology can be varied and complex. In Alzheimer's type dementia (the most common type) neurodegenerative physiological changes occur and include formation of neuronal plaques and tangles. Cerebrovascular causes of dementia involve a decrease in blood-flow to the brain.
The following are common presentations of dementia:
The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Dementia is a chronic issue and the treatment plan needs to be individualized and long term.
It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.
Patients with dementia may face increasingly difficulty daily challenges and need support at home to maintain quality of life and to accomplish activities of daily living.
- The dementia patient's caregiver needs to be very involved in any treatment, including managing supplementation and medication. The nature of dementia does not permit patients to care for themselves.
- Home caregivers need to be prepared for, and accepting of, erratic behavior, anger, frustration, confusion, and general upset.
- Patients will require increasing levels of assistance with ADLs.
Lifestyle recommendations include:
- The diets that have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of MS include:
- Ensure you drink adequate water.
- Individuals with dementia need to maintain social connection with family and friends and engage in cognitive stimulation.
- Studies have demonstrated that aerobic exercise can increase mental function and slow the progression of AD. It is postulated that this is due to increased blood flow to the brain and production of growth factors important in nerve health.
- Cognitive Exercise
The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.
|Article||Treating Dementia with Vitamin B3 and NADH J Orthomolecular Med 2012;Vol26(4)|
Naturopathic Therapies for dementia include:
- Clinical Nutritional Supplementation includes
- Vitamins including: B Vitamins, vitamin B1 or thiamine, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin C.
- Minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium.
- Amino Acids such as L-Acetylcarnitine (see L-Carnitine)
- Other supplements such as Melatonin, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Phosphatidylcholine, Phosphatidylserine, Malic acid.
- Herbs such as Ginkgo (Gingko biloba)  Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Ginseng (Panax ginseng), Grape Seed Extract
- Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture recognizes the different disease patterns associated with dementia and the following strategies are commonly employed based on individual presentation:
- Tonify the spleen and strengthen the intellect
- Tonify the kidneys, nourish essence and marrow and strengthen memory
- Tonify the heart, strengthen the mind and memory
Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND 
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