Know the Risks Before Trying Alternative Supplements for Alzheimer’s Disease

Senior couple looking at medications.
Always get the doctor’s approval before trying anything new.

As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That could very well pertain to the recent influx of corporations touting alternative supplements, dietary programs, and herbal concoctions in order to cure, or at the very least minimize, the ramifications of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association would like to advise us, however, to go forward with caution when looking into treatment ideas for a loved one with dementia – and always get the doctor’s approval before trying anything new.

A number of the latest trends in treating the condition, which are outside of the FDA’s research and approval, and generally are based on personal reviews in place of fact-based science, include ginkgo biloba, coral calcium, coconut oil, huperzine A and CoQ10 – an antioxidant produced naturally but in declining levels as we age. In particular, the Alzheimer’s Association reports their concerns about these and other popular alternative treatments:

  • Ginkgo biloba: Clinical trials of thousands of adults over age 75 have shown no statistical difference in those taking this plant extract and those taking a placebo.
  • Coral calcium: Coral calcium has been demonstrated to produce no substantial health benefits, and people marketing and distributing it as a cure for Alzheimer’s are presently under investigation with formal complaints filed by both the FTC and FDA.
  • Coconut oil: Claims are that coconut oil might provide an alternative energy source to brain cells in the place of reduced glucose levels in individuals with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association cautions that while there might be benefit, no clinical testing or scientific evidence is available.
  • Huperzine A: Used as a traditional Chinese healing product, huperzine A is a moss extract obtainable as an unregulated dietary supplement. A clinical trial was performed by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study that demonstrated no benefit to huperzine A in Alzheimer’s patients, and that severe side effects might occur when taken in combination along with other Alzheimer’s disease treatments.
  • CoQ10: While CoQ10 is a naturally-occurring antioxidant within the body, this has not been investigated for its efficacy in managing Alzheimer’s disease, and also could result in harm to the older adult if ingested in large amounts.

The conclusion? Consult your senior loved one's personal physician about treatment plans for Alzheimer’s disease and stick to their recommendations carefully. For additional details on safe and effective Alzheimer’s care, delivered within the convenience of home, call on Midnight Sun Home Care’s expert dementia care team.  Our care staff are professionally trained and knowledgeable in patient and compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care, allowing seniors to maintain the highest possible quality of life, safety, independence and respect. Call us at (907) 677-7890 or contact us online to learn more about our Mat-Su senior services and the communities we serve. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page. 


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