Complementary Health Approaches

Frequently Asked Questions

19. Have any complementary approaches been shown to prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease?

There is no strong evidence that any complementary health approach or diet can prevent cognitive impairment. However, a variety of approaches are being studied to see whether they can prevent or slow the progression of dementia, and researchers are also looking at approaches to help reduce the behavioral and emotional symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Although natural products containing Ginkgo biloba have been widely marketed to improve memory and sharpen the mind, there is a lack of evidence to support the use of these products for the prevention of cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease. In the NIH-sponsored Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study, which was a 6-year trial of Ginkgo biloba in more than 3,000 older adults, ginkgo did not prevent Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, or slow cognitive decline.

Learn about treatments for the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.