Alzheimer's: Effective Alternative Treatments

There are some alternative treatments for Alzheimer's Disease which appear to be somewhat effective.

Alzheimer's and Huperzine A

Huperzine A (pronounced HOOP-ur-zeen) is a moss extract that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Because it has properties similar to those of FDA-approved Alzheimer medications, it is promoted as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

Evidence from small studies shows that the effectiveness of huperzine A may be comparable to that of the approved drugs. Large-scale trials are needed to better understand the effectiveness of this supplement.

In Spring 2004, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) launched the first U.S. clinical trial of huperzine A as a treatment for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

Because huperzine A is a dietary supplement, it is unregulated and manufactured with no uniform standards. If used in combination with FDA-approved Alzheimer drugs, an individual could increase the risks of serious side effects.

Alzheimer's and Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine (pronounced FOS-fuh-TIE-dil-sair-een) is a kind of lipid, or fat, that is the primary component of cell membranes of neurons. In Alzheimer's disease and similar disorders, neurons degenerate for reasons that are not yet understood. The strategy behind the possible treatment with phosphatidylserine is to shore up the cell membrane and possibly protect cells from degenerating.

The first clinical trials with phosphatidylserine were conducted with a form derived from the brain cells of cows. Some of these trials had promising results. However, most trials were with small samples of participants.

This line of investigation came to an end in the 1990s over concerns about mad cow disease. There have been some animals studies since then to see whether phosphatidylserine derived from soy may be a potential treatment. A report was published in 2000 about a clinical trial with 18 participants with age-associated memory impairment who were treated with phosphatidylserine. The authors concluded that the results were encouraging but that there would need to be large carefully controlled trials to determine if this could be a viable treatment.


Alzheimer's and Coral Calcium

"Coral" calcium supplements have been heavily marketed as a cure for Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses. Coral calcium is a form of calcium carbonate claimed to be derived from the shells of formerly living organisms that once made up coral reefs.

In June 2003, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) filed a formal complaint against the promoters and distributors of coral calcium. The agencies state that they are aware of no competent and reliable scientific evidence supporting the exaggerated health claims and that such unsupported claims are unlawful.

Coral calcium differs from ordinary calcium supplements only in that it contains traces of some additional minerals incorporated into the shells by the metabolic processes of the animals that formed them. It offers no extraordinary health benefits. Most experts recommend that individuals who need to take a calcium supplement for bone health take a purified preparation marketed by a reputable manufacturer.

Source: Alzheimer's Association

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 28). Alzheimer's: Effective Alternative Treatments, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, September 18 from

Last Updated: May 8, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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