Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Frequently Asked Questions
18. What are some examples of NIH-sponsored studies of CAM therapies for Alzheimer's disease?
Some studies are considering whether antioxidants -- such as vitamin E and C -- can slow Alzheimer's. One clinical trial is examining whether vitamin E and/or selenium supplements can prevent Alzheimer's or stop mental decline. More studies on other antioxidants are ongoing or being planned.
Although researchers had hoped that extracts from the leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree might be of some help in preventing dementia, a large study called the Ginkgo Evaluation in Memory study (GEM) recently found that the ginkgo product researched was not effective in delaying or preventing Alzheimer's disease, other types of dementia, or general cognitive decline. This study, which recruited more than 3,000 volunteers age 75 and over, was the largest study ever to investigate ginkgo's effect on dementia.
Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer's often have higher levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in their blood. High levels of homocysteine are known to increase the risk of heart disease. Folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood, and scientists are conducting clinical trials to see whether these substances can also slow rates of mental decline.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the oil of certain fish. Studies are looking at whether omega-3 supplements can slow the progression of Alzheimer's.