Herbal Product May Improve Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
Supplementing with Chinese club moss (Huperzia serrata) may improve brain and behavioral functioning in some people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new Cochrane Review.
The herbal Chinese club moss product, called Huperzine A, has been shown in to have positive effects on the central nervous system. This review, which included six Chinese trials and 454 patients, showed that compared with people who took placebo, certain symptoms were improved in people with Alzheimer’s disease who took Huperzine A.
“Huperzine A seems to have some beneficial effects on improvement of general cognitive function, global clinical status, behavioral disturbance, and functional performance, with no obvious serious adverse events for patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” said the study authors. They recommend further research to better understand the role of Huperzine A in the management of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that seriously impairs a person’s memory and ability to think. Eventually, the disease also affects the ability to carry out day-to-day activities and they experience behavioral changes such as wandering, agitation, and depression. Environmental and genetic factors play a role in disease development, which occurs more frequently in people over age 60. There is no cure for the disease but there are a number of drugs that have been shown to help delay brain deterioration and improve functioning.
Steps a caregiver can take to improve the life of a person with Alzheimer’s disease include the following:
• Music, art, or exercise classes that are designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s can help stimulate their mind.
• Interaction with animals—known as pet therapy—may be helpful for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Petting animals can help relax the mind and body.
• Arranging and modifying the home environment to reduce accidents and falls is critical, as people with Alzheimer’s disease may not always have sound judgment or steady balance.
• Build a support network for both the patient and caregiver. It often takes many people to help care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease since the patient eventually becomes dependent on others for care. Support groups are available in senior centers and many local hospitals.
(Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD005592. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005592.pub2)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, Web sites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.
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