For those battling Alzheimer’s and loved ones who care for them, a cure couldn’t be found soon enough. The good news is that researchers will not stop until they have found that cure. Until then, there are many treatment methods available to help those suffering from this debilitating disease.
Cognitive therapy is a form of psychotherapy designed to help those with a variety of psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and other disorders. Working with the patient, the therapist assists in identifying biases which affect communication skills, behavior, and thought processes. The goal is to assist the patient to gain more independence and to be able to handle life situations in a healthy manner. Studies indicate Alzheimer’s patients benefit greatly from the cognitive therapy in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improving cognition, mood, relationships, and overall quality of life.
Alzheimer’s is thought to be induced by amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Researchers have linked the presence of these plaques and tangles to inflammation that results in further progression of the disease. However, recent studies indicate that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis, has shown positive effects against Alzheimer’s. THC seems to assist the brain not only by removing amyloid plaques, but also by blocking the enzymes that produce them. Researchers have also found that THC can eliminate nerve cell inflammation in the brain as well as protect cells from dying. Studies are ongoing, but results to this point indicate that introducing THC to Alzheimer’s patients may have a positive effect.
The Mediterranean Diet
A Mediterranean diet consists primarily of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, chicken, fish, and olive oil. Studies suggest that diets rich in these foods, which contain high levels of antioxidants, reduce inflammation in the brain and also increase protein levels that protect brain cells from damage. This diet also aids in the reduction of bad cholesterol, which has been shown to affect memory. While more study is necessary, there may very well be an important connection between this diet and Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment.
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to help improve mental and physical health. Essential oils can be administered in many ways: they can be added into lotions or bath water, diffused into the air as a room freshener, or used in oils during massage therapy. While Alzheimer’s patients often face issues with anxiety, memory loss, depression, anger, and restlessness on a daily basis, aromatherapy can assist them in every area mentioned above when it’s used on a regular basis.
In conclusion, research continues to show that cognitive therapy, diet, and aromatherapy can all have beneficial effects for Alzheimer’s patients. Ongoing investigation indicating that THC has shown positive results against Alzheimer’s is possibly the most exciting and promising finding to date.
‘Tis the season for giving, and what better way to do that than help progress Alzheimer’s and Dementia research? See a list of great non-profit options here.