Natural and holistic therapies are safe methods used in order to help improve the memory and overall cognitive ability, as well as manage or prevent the symptoms of dementia. There are many factors to consider before pursuing an alternative therapy, like the number of visits treatment requires, what all is involved, the cost, results, and any potential risks or side effects. Before beginning any new alternative therapy, be sure to consult a doctor. Some therapies, such as those that involve the use of herbs, can conflict with certain medications, which can be life threatening. Many natural therapies have been used throughout the ages to treat dementia. A few of these treatment methods are: acupuncture and acupressure, aromatherapy and even changes to the diet. These treatments will be discussed in further detail below.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that considers health issues to be the result of imbalances in energy flow through the body. Acupuncture is the process of unblocking pathways to allow energy, or chi, to flow freely, restoring the body to a healthy state. In this therapy, very fine needles are carefully inserted into the skin where the blockages are, breaking them up and restoring the flow of energy. Acupressure is based on the same basic idea as acupuncture, but touch is used to free blockages, rather than needles. A recent small study in Taiwan of the use of acupressure in treating dementia showed a decrease in symptoms, and indicated that these therapies could be used to prevent the onset of dementia.
Aromatherapy is often used in conjunction with massage, another form of touch therapy similar to acupressure. Aromatherapy is the idea that the essential oils derived from plants have beneficial and healing properties. The oils are first diluted, and then can be applied to the skin through massage, heated in an oil burner or added to a bath. The most common oils used are lemon balm and lavender oil because they are believed to possess cognitive enhancing abilities. The use of aromatherapy has been shown to help those with dementia relax, lessening their symptoms.
Dietary changes and overall nutrition are another method of preventing the onset of dementia. It is believed by some doctors that up to a fifth of all cases in dementia are preventable and are caused by malnutrition or malabsorption. Nutritional specialists recommend eating a variety of unrefined whole foods, including fresh fruits, vegetables and essential fatty acids like Omega-3 fatty acids. Some research has shown that high levels of Omega-3s can possibly prevent dementia and cognitive decline. Patients should also be checked for a folic acid deficiency, as low levels of folic acid can lead to poor concentration as well as memory failure and disorientation. In addition, some vitamin supplementations are recommended, like niacin (B3) or B12. A zinc deficiency could also lead to dementia. Any patients who are hoping to prevent dementia through diet and nutritional supplementation should consult a doctor and be tested for nutritional deficiencies, to better target problem areas.
There are many other holistic approaches to treating and preventing dementia, such as herbal medicines and even changing sleep habits. The use of alternative therapies for treating and preventing dementia has been largely unstudied. Though few official trials have been performed using these methods, each method has been successfully used to, at a minimum, treat symptoms of dementia. Because they are natural and safe methods, however, they can be used in order to help prevent dementia from happening, as long as they are approved first by a doctor.
[box type=”note”]Nisha is a freelance writer helping to represent MHA online. Feel free to visit my site for more information on specialist dementia care.[/box]