Dementia

Dementia Overview:

Dementia is a set of neurodegenerative disorders involving both the cortical and subcortical brain, eventually resulting in progressive cognitive decline.

As the condition progresses, executive function, language, and mental speed become impaired. Changes in mood, behaviour, sleeping pattern, and independence follow.


Aetiology:

There are a number of causative factors associated with Dementia:

  • Old age (>65)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Low folate intake
  • Down's Syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • APOE e4
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • High caloric intake
  • Poor excercise
  • Social isolation
  • B Vitamin deficiencies
  • Environmental toxicity
  • Chronic lack of social stimulation
  • Chronic depression

+ Alzheimer's Disease

Makes up for about 70% of dementia cases.

More on Alzheimer's disease.

+ Vascular Dementia

Poor blood flow to the brain.

+ Wernicke Korsakoff Disease

The end result of Vitamin B1 deficiency in alcoholism)

+ Fronto-Temporal Dementia

A set of rare disorders affecting the frontal lobes of the brain.

+ Lewy Body Dementia

Parkinsons disease dementia

+ Diabetic Dementia

Diabetes is associated with a higher risk of dementia.

+ HIV Associated Dementia

HIV has a high association with dementia.

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Symptoms:

Decrease in executive function

Impaired memory

Altered social & behavioural patterns

Symptom

Mood irregularities

Decreased ability to use or interpret language

Loss in the ability to recognize objects or faces

 

Diagnostic Considerations:

The presence of an acquired impairment in memory, associated with impairment in one or more cognitive domains, including:

  • Executive function (e.g., abstract thinking, reasoning, judgment)
  • Language (expressive or receptive)
  • Praxis (learned motor sequences)
  • Gnosis (ability to recognize objects, faces or other sensory information)

Impairments in cognition must be severe enough to  interfere with work, usual social activities or relationships with others.

 

Other Factors To Consider For Diagnosis:

  • Family history of Dementia
  • Altered social behaviour
  • Memory impairment

 

Testing For Dementia:

  • Imaging of head (CT and/or MRI)
  • Blood tests
  • Full blood count, ESR
  • Urea and electrolytes, glucose
  • Calcium, liver function tests
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Vitamin B12
  • Syphilis, ANA, HIV serology
  • Chest X-ray
  • EEG

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Support Healthy Cognitive Function

  • Nootropics (bacopa monieri, Ginkgo biloba, Vinca major, Schisandra chinensis, Camellia sinensis, Centella asiatica, Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Adaptogens (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, Rhodiola rosea)
  • Nutritional (Essential fatty acids, B Vitamins, CoQ10)
  • Nervine Trophorestoratives (Avena sativa, Ginkgo biloba)

2. Improve Sleep Quality

  • Nervine Sedatives (Scutellaria lateriflora, Passiflora incarnata, Valeriana officinalis, Humulus lupulus, Piper methysticum)

3. Manage Underlying Conditions

  • Thymoleptics (Hypericum perforatum, Trichilia catigua)
  • Adaptogens (Rhodiola rosea, Pstychopetalum olacoides, Withania somnifera)

4. Reduce Oxidative Stress

  • Antioxidants (Curcuma longa, Vitis vinifera, Rosmarinus officinalis, Camellia sinensis, Pinus pinasta)
 

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Parkinson's Disease
 

Cautions:

Dementia requires long-term support.

 

Herbs For Dementia:

  • Ginkgo
  • Muira puama
  • Panax ginseng
  • Coffee
  • Trichilia catigua
 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: June 2018


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