The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that one in eight Americans above the age of 65 and 50 percent of those above 85 suffer from this neurodegenerative disorder.
Alzheimer’s disease, the most common reason for memory problems in elderly people, is characterized by senile plaque deposition (accumulation of abnormally folded proteins in the brain), neurofibrillary tangle (aggregation of insoluble twisted fibers found inside the brain cells) formation, and neuronal loss (death of neurons). The condition can affect memory, behavior, and other mental abilities.
Although there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, certain herbs can prove beneficial in keeping your brain healthy, slow down and even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
1) Ginkgo Biloba
Traditionally used for treating blood disorders and enhancing memory, ginkgo biloba improves blood circulation by opening the blood vessels. It is packed with flavonoids that protect the heart muscle, nerves, retina and blood vessels from damage.
Antioxidants found in gingko biloba leaves (flavonoids and terpenoids) destroy free radicals and prevent them from damaging the DNA and other cells. It protects nerve cells that get damaged by Alzheimer’s and dementia, and improves learning and memory.[1,2,3,4,5,6]
How To Take It
- You can take a 120mg ginkgo supplement once a day for eight weeks to see a difference. To buy them, click here.
- Alternatively, make a soothing tea by steeping one ginkgo teabag in a cup of boiling water for 10 mins. Have it twice a day. To buy tea bags online, click here.
2) Lemon Balm
The 16th-century physician Paracelsus sold lemon balm to kings promising that it can help inhibit early senility. Laboratory studies showed that lemon balm extract reduces induced stress. In another study, lemon balm produced a significantly higher improvement in cognitive function than a placebo.
Lemon balm stimulates the enzymes and receptors responsible for aiding the molecule acetylcholine transmit nerve signals, thus relieving cognitive problems associated with Alzheimer’s.
How To Take It
- Take 1tsp dried lemon balm herb in a cup of hot water. Steep and drink it twice daily. You can buy the dried herb here.
This herb induces a neuroprotective effect by decreasing oxidative stress. According to an article published in the Journal of Chinese Medicinal Materials, animal studies show that ginseng reduced cell death in Alzheimer’s disease.
How To Take It
- Drink it as a tea twice daily to obtain relief. Here’s how you can prepare panax ginseng tea.
- You can also take Korean ginseng supplements twice daily. Buy it here.
Sage is an exceptional remedy for digestive discomfort and mental disorders such as depression and Alzheimer’s.[11,12,13,14] It is rich in antioxidants such as luteolin, apigenin, diosmetin, and important nutrients such as vitamin K.
For those who suffer from Alzheimer’s, sage could be beneficial in improving both memory and the way information is processed in the brain. A research published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics concluded that sage extract could reduce agitation of patients. A study published in the journal Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior found that a 50 microliter dose of sage essential oil improved immediate word recall.
How To Take It
- To prepare sage tea, add 1tbsp dried sage leaves to a cup of boiling water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Add honey and lemon for taste. Drink this tea twice daily to see an improvement.
- You can also buy sage supplements online and take them twice daily.
5) Cat’s Claw
Cat’s claw has been used for centuries in South America to treat and prevent diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s. Studies show that cat’s claw dilates blood vessels that increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain cells, thus relieving symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
How To Take It
- Brew a herbal tea with this bark and drink it once daily. Buy it here.
- Alternatively, you can buy cat’s claw extract and capsules here.
1. Christen Y. Oxidative stress and Alzheimer disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Feb;71(2):621S-629S. Review. PubMed PMID: 10681270.
2. Andrieu S, Gillette S, Amouyal K, Nourhashemi F, Reynish E, Ousset PJ, Albarede JL, Vellas B, Grandjean H; EPIDOS study. Association of Alzheimer’s disease onset with ginkgo biloba and other symptomatic cognitive treatments in a population of women aged 75 years and older from the EPIDOS study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2003 Apr;58(4):372-7. PubMed PMID: 12663701.
3. Amieva H, Meillon C, Helmer C, Barberger-Gateau P, Dartigues JF. Ginkgo biloba extract and long-term cognitive decline: a 20-year follow-up population-based study. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e52755. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052755. Epub 2013 Jan 11. PubMed PMID: 23326356; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3543404.
4. Birks J, Grimley Evans J. Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jan 21;(1):CD003120. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003120.pub3. Review. PubMed PMID: 19160216.
5. Wang BS, Wang H, Song YY, Qi H, Rong ZX, Wang BS, Zhang L, Chen HZ. Effectiveness of standardized ginkgo biloba extract on cognitive symptoms of dementia with a six-month treatment: a bivariate random effect meta-analysis. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2010 May;43(3):86-91. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1242817. Epub 2010 Jan 26. PubMed PMID: 20104449.
6. Vellas B, Coley N, Ousset PJ, Berrut G, Dartigues JF, Dubois B, Grandjean H, Pasquier F, Piette F, Robert P, Touchon J, Garnier P, Mathiex-Fortunet H, Andrieu S; GuidAge Study Group. Long-term use of standardised Ginkgo biloba extract for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (GuidAge): a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Neurol. 2012 Oct;11(10):851-9. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70206-5. Epub 2012 Sep 6. Review. PubMed PMID: 22959217.
7. Kennedy DO, Little W, Scholey AB. Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosom Med. 2004 Jul-Aug;66(4):607-13. PubMed PMID: 15272110.
8. Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M, Ohadinia S, Jamshidi AH, Khani M. Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial. J
Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003 Jul;74(7):863-6. PubMed PMID: 12810768; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1738567.
9. Cho I-H. Effects of Panax ginseng in Neurodegenerative Diseases. Journal of Ginseng Research. 2012;36(4):342-353. doi:10.5142/jgr.2012.36.4.342.
10. Rasmussen P. Lemon balm–Melissa officinalis; also known as lemon balm, bee balm, garden balm, Melissa, melissengeist. J Prim Health Care. 2011 Jun 1;3(2):165-6. PubMed PMID: 21625668.
11. Walch S, Tinzoh L, Zimmerman B, Stuhlinger W, Lachenmeier D. Antioxidant capacity and polyphenolic composition as quality indicators for aqueous infusions of Salvia officinalis L. Front Pharmacol. 2011;2:29.
12. Khan A, Najeeb-ur- Rahman, Alkharfy K, Gilani A. Antidiarrheal andantispasmodic activities of Salvia officinalis are mediated through activation of K + channels. J Bangladesh Pharmacol Soc. 2011;6:111–6.
13. Perry NS, Bollen C, Perry EK, Ballard C. Salvia for dementia therapy: Review of pharmacologyical activity and pilot tolerability clinical trial. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003;75:651–9.
14. Imanshadi M, Hosseinzadeh H. The Pharmacological effects of Salvia species on the central nervous system. Phytother Res. 2006;20:427–37.
15. Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M, Ohadinia S, Jamshidi AH, Khani M. “Salvia officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial.”. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2003 Feb;28(1):53-9. Accessed October 13th 2013.
16. Tildesley NT, Kennedy DO, Perry EK, Ballard CG, Savelev S, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. “Salvia lavandulaefolia (Spanish sage) enhances memory in healthy young volunteers.” Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):669-74. Accessed October 13th 2013.
17. Cat’s Claw. National Center For Complementary And Integrative Health. Site: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/catclaw#refs (Accessed on 03 September 2015).