Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Various herbal mixtures, vitamins and other supplements are widely promoted as preparations that may support cognitive health or prevent or delay Alzheimer's. Currently, there's no strong evidence that any of these therapies slow the progression of cognitive decline.

Some of the treatments that have been studied recently include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. The NIH panel concluded there is somewhat stronger data — but not definitive evidence — that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may help prevent cognitive decline.
  • Curcumin. This herb comes from turmeric and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that might affect chemical processes in the brain. So far, clinical trials have found no benefit for treating Alzheimer's disease.
  • Ginkgo. Ginkgo is a plant extract containing several substances believed to be of possible benefit in Alzheimer's. But a large study funded by the NIH found no effect in preventing or delaying Alzheimer's disease.

Supplements promoted for cognitive health can interact with medications you're taking for Alzheimer's disease or other health conditions. Work closely with your health care team to create a treatment plan that's right for you. Make sure you understand the risks and benefits of everything it includes.

June 17, 2014