How can natural medicine help people with Alzheimer’s disease?
Dementia is on the increase in Hong Kong, with up to a third of the SAR’s senior citizens aged 80 or older expected to suffer from some form of this syndrome by 2050. It is marked by a progressive decline in cognitive and intellectual functioning, including memory, comprehension, language and judgment.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, according to the Hong Kong government’s Elderly Health Service. Around 65% of all reported cases of dementia in the region are due to Alzheimer’s. Common symptoms include confusion, memory loss, difficulty communicating, anxiousness and paranoia.
Changes to the brain tissue – including the build-up of abnormal protein structures called amyloid plaques and tau tangles – characterise Alzheimer’s disease. While the actual origins and causes of Alzheimer’s are still unclear, many scientists and medical professionals believe these changes lie at the root of this disease.
With no clear effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, the functional and integrated medicine practitioners at IMI can apply natural medicine principles to improve patients’ quality of life and potentially delay the progression of the disease.
Functional and integrated medicine is effective because of its focus on assessing patients’ DNA profiles and digestive functionality, as well as the need for dietary changes and nutritional supplementation.
What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and normal ageing?
While many people experience some decline in their cognitive abilities as they grow older, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are not considered a normal part of the ageing process.
For example, while people may have difficulty recalling the names of acquaintances as part of normal age-associated memory impairment, people with dementia will have problems recognising and remembering the name of family members.
Normal age-related impairments may lead people to occasionally forget events and things, while people with dementia will forget them frequently. By the middle to late stages of dementia, the cognitive impairment will substantially affect sufferers’ ability to carry out day to day tasks.
While dementia is not a normal part of the ageing process, age is a risk factor for the disease. Your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia increases as you age.
What should I do if I suspect I may have Alzheimer’s disease?
Many people start to develop the brain damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease as early as their late 30s, even though the symptoms themselves only appear later in the mid-60s. This means once the symptoms begin, it is important to see a practitioner and address them quickly.
Getting some assistance with diagnosis via medical imaging, cognitive exams and other memory-based testing is an important step in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Other illnesses can have similar signs and symptoms, such as Parkinson’s disease, depression or past strokes. These tests can also give both the practitioner and the patient a clearer idea of what can be achieved with treatment interventions.
While there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, research suggests that an integrated natural medicine model can halt the progression of the disease and improve daily symptoms.
Profiling patient’s DNA is also an essential part of the treatment plan. Particular configurations of genes within the APOE 4 group of DNA can greatly increase the functional tendencies that can lead the brain towards Alzheimer’s disease. These can of course be mitigated with treatment via nutrition, exercise and herbal medicine.
A natural medicine practitioner can navigate you through these tests. Our practitioners will assess function throughout the body, not just the brain, when putting together a personalised treatment plan.