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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2016-11-11 (EDT)

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.

Memory loss.jpg

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

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

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:


  • Even moderate exercise in mid and late life decreases the risk for developing mild cognitive decline and dementia.[2]



  • 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.[5]
  • Relationships
  • Spending time with loved ones and engaging in social contact is protective against several forms of dementia including Alzheimer's Disease, vascular dementia, and mild cognitive impairment.[6]


  • Substance abuse
  • Long term substance abuse (illicit drugs or alcohol) has been linked to increased rates of cognitive decline.[1]
  • Trauma
  • History of concussions, and traumatic brain injury increase the incidence of dementia.[7], [1]

Diagnostic Testing

There is no confirmatory laboratory testing or physical examination. The diagnosis of dementia is made clinically using the following DSM-IV criteria:[8]

  • 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

The following conditions are associated with dementia:[8], [1]


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.[9]

Common Symptoms

The following are common presentations of dementia:[8]

  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Weight loss
  • Poor work performance
  • Normally uncharacteristic financial errors
  • Poor judgement
  • Delirium
  • Aphasia
  • Apraxia
  • Agnosia
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Social withdrawal
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Increased risk of falls
  • Personality changes

Naturopathic Treatment

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.

Home Care

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.[12]


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.[6]
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
Individuals with dementia should be encouraged when able to remain cognitively active, including remaining involved in social interaction, completing puzzles, dancing, and enjoying music.[6], [14]
  • Exercise can help to improve sleep, and increases in sleep has been shown to positively affect neurogenesis in the adult brain.[15]

Naturopathic Therapies

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)

For dementia associated with specific disease processes, see the following: Stroke, Cardiovascular Disease, Parkinson's Disease, or Alzheimer's Disease.

Naturopathic Therapies for dementia include:

Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture recognizes the different disease patterns associated with dementia and the following strategies are commonly employed based on individual presentation:[19]
  • 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 [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Braverman ER. Kiefer D (2011) Combating Age-Related Brain Deterioration. Life Extension;Oct.p55-63
  2. Geda YE, Roberts RO, Knopman DS, et al. (Jan 2010) Physical exercise, aging, and mild cognitive impairment: a population-based study. Arch Neurol;67(1):80-6.
  3. Uchida H, Nagai M. Intakes and health effects of aluminum. "Is aluminum a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease? Nihon Koshu Eisei Zasshi. 1997 Sep;44(9):671-81.
  4. Savory J, Exley C, Forbes WF, Huang Y, Joshi JG, Kruck T, McLachlan DR, Wakayama I. Can the controversy of the role of aluminum in Alzheimer's disease be resolved? What are the suggested approaches to this controversy and methodological issues to be considered? J Toxicol Environ Health. 1996 Aug 30;48(6):615-35.
  5. Verghese J (Jun 2003) Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. N Engl J Med;[online] Available from AMED- The Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, Ipswich, MA. Accessed Jan 31 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Biali S. (Oct 2011) Keep your memory sharp: Don't lose it - use it! Alive: Canada's Natural Health and Wellness Magazine;348:p24-31.
  7. Langlois J, Rutland-Brown W, Wald M. (2006) The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: A brief overview. J Head Trauma Rehab;21(5):375-8.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Dains JE, Baumann LC, Sceibel P. (2007) Advanced Health Assessment and Clinical Diagnosis in Primary Care 3rd ed. Mosby
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Kalaria RN (2010) Vascular basis for brain degeneration: faltering controls and risk factors for dementia. Nutrition Reviews;68(2):74-84
  10. Skoog I, Lernfelt B, Landahl S, et al. (1996) 15-year longitudinal study of blood pressure and dementia. Lancet347:1141–1145.
  11. Harvard Women's Health Watch Nov 2011 (19)3:7-7 1/2.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Prousky Jonathan (2008) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition CCNM Press.
  13. Pizzorno Joseph E, Murray Michael T (2006) Textbook of Natural Medicine 3rd ed, Elsevier.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Rakel D (2007) Integrative Medicine 2nd ed. Saunders
  15. Meerlo P, Mistlberger RE, et al. (Jun 2009) New neurons in the adult brain: the role of sleep and consequences of sleep loss. Sleep Med Rev;13(3):187-94.
  16. Wheat JM, Currie GM, Kiat H. (2011) The role of Ginkgo biloba extract in the integrative management of dementia. Aus J of Med Herb;Jan:23(2):68-75.
  17. Godfrey Anthony, Saunders Paul Richard, Barlow Kerry, Gilbert Cyndi, Gowan Matthew, Smith Fraser (2010) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Vol 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs CCNM Press, Toronto
  18. Hershoff Asa (2000) Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments, Avery Publishing Group, New York
  19. Maciocia G (1994). The Practice of Chinese Medicine: The Treatment of Diseases with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. Churchill Livingstone