Treatments for Alzheimer's
Geri Hall is a clinical nurse specialist at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.
Question: Are there new medications, vitamins and herbs that can treat and maybe even cure Alzheimer’s disease?
Answer: Right now, the only FDA-approved medications for treating the memory loss of Alzheimer’s disease fall into two categories:
- Medications sold as Aricept (donepezil), Exelon (rivastigmine); and Razadyne (galantamine), which act on the cholinergic messenger system. These are used as soon as symptoms of dementia or cognitive impairment are diagnosed. For those who cannot swallow, Exelon is also available as a skin patch.
- Namenda (memantine), which acts through a different chemical messenger system called the glutamatergic pathway. Namenda is approved for moderate to severe dementia and although it may be used alone, it is usually given in addition to one of the cholinergic medications.
At this time there are no vitamins, herbs, or dietary supplements that have been shown to be effective in treating dementia, or preventing it.
You can read about ongoing medication or vaccine trials for Alzheimer’s disease at www.clinicaltrials.gov Keyword: Alzheimer’s.
Some of these test medications for behaviors are aimed at improving thinking and memory problems, and a significant number are testing new compounds designed to treat the actual pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, there are studies of some preventive measures such as the use of Omega 3 fish oil capsules.
The best way to learn of new products approved for use in Alzheimer’s disease, as well as what treatment studies are available in Arizona, is through the Alzheimer’s Association, the NIH-sponsored Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) program (www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/), the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium (www.azalz.org/), and the Banner Alzheimer's Institute.