Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease – Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment
Dementia is a decline in reasoning, memory, and other mental abilities, which are collectively called cognitive functions. This decline eventually impairs the ability to perform daily activities such as driving, household chores, and even personal care such as bathing, dressing, and feeding. Dementia affects about 1% of people between the ages of 60 and 70. Dementia is different from age-related memory loss; a condition in which a person may not be able to find their glasses or remember someone’s name, but will still be able to learn new things, solve problems, and carry out daily activities .
The causes of dementia can be divided into reversible and irreversible. Irreversible causes damage brain cells in the cortical and subcortical areas of the brain and are mainly due to Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Reversible causes include head trauma, infections, excess fluid in the brain, tumors, metabolic and hormonal disorders, lack of oxygen, drug reactions, and exposure to toxic substances.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a slowly progressive disease of the brain characterized by impaired memory and possibly by disturbances in reasoning, planning, language and perception. Old age, genetic factors, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, history of head trauma and poor school education are indicated as risk factors for AD. AD accounts for nearly half of dementia cases.
The basic principles of Ayurveda can be used wisely in the treatment of dementia and AD. Excess protein deposition, brain cell neurotransmitter dysfunction, and brain cell destruction are hallmarks of these conditions. Brain damage, which is the cause of this condition, can be treated with drugs that improve the metabolism of the dhatu “Majja” in the body and help improve the general functioning and quality of brain cells. Medicines useful in this condition are: Pancha-Tikta-Ghruta Guggulu, Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) and Musta (Cyperus rotundus).
In addition, Ayurveda mentions a class of drugs called “Medhya”, which improve the working capacity of the brain. This category includes drugs like Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Guduchi, Padma (Nelumbo nucifera), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Vacha (Acorus calamus) and Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis). These drugs can help slow the destruction of brain cells, stabilize brain function, and in the long run can even help regenerate brain cells. Very little is known about the full potential of herbal medicines in these conditions, and detailed scientific research is the need of the hour. However, what is known with certainty at present is that results are better when treatment is started early in the course of the disease. Early and specific diagnosis is therefore of the utmost importance.