Natural Alzheimer’s Treatments
There’s a great deal of anecdotal evidence that giving dolls to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is wondrous therapy. While not everyone agrees, my position is simple. If it brings happiness and relief without pills or side effects, and it’s inexpensive, and does no harm…I’m in.
We don’t know why—does it matter?
The key word here is “anecdotal.” No matter where I looked, I found virtually nothing that would qualify as “scientific.” No double blind, peer-reviewed studies of the neurochemical how’s and why’s that make doll therapy work.
Even when I searched the related categories of pet therapy and art therapy, and the fascinating roles dolls have played in cultures worldwide since forever, nothing I found was “scientific” enough to provide conclusive proof that any of those therapies work.
It doesn’t matter. As I said, I’m in.
I’m taking advantage of the excellent reporting done by Anna Gorman of National Public Radio. Her own words, which I’m incorporating verbatim, tell a common story.
Sitting beside a neatly made crib, 88-year-old Vivian Guzofsky holds up a baby doll dressed in puppy dog pajamas.
“Hello gorgeous,” she says, laughing. “You’re so cute.”
Guzofsky, who has Alzheimer’s disease, lives on a secure memory floor at a home for seniors in Beverly Hills, California. She visits the dolls in the home’s pretend nursery nearly every day. Sometimes Guzofsky changes their clothes or lays them down for a nap. One morning in August, she sings to them: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray.”
No one knows whether she believes she is holding a doll or a real baby. What the staff at Sunrise Senior Living do know is that Guzofsky, who can get agitated and aggressive, is always calm when caring for the dolls.
There are endless versions of this narrative. So…
What’s not to like about doll therapy?
Some geriatric care professionals aren’t so keen on the doll therapy model. Some report family members’ fears that their loved one will be laughed at. Some point to family members’ distress at seeing their loved one so diminished that they can’t distinguish fantasy from reality.
“They are adults and we want to treat them like adults,” says one caregiver. “We want to provide a sense of dignity.”
I would counter that argument with the abundant evidence that the dolls can lessen distress, improve communication, and reduce wandering and aggressive behavior.
Even more important is evidence that doll therapy can reduce the need for psychotropic drugs—dangerous and never taken without risk. I’d suggest that people who find doll therapy “demeaning” measure the undeniable engagement and improved mood and behavior lift against the zombifying sledgehammer that Big Pharma’s powerful drugs often dose out.
Natural therapies can change the course of disease
As the healthcare community battles these awful neurodegenerative diseases, there is increasingly strong evidence that dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s can be prevented, halted—and even reversed.
Not with Big Pharma’s brain-buster meds—naturally.
Berberine, for example, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory—invaluable in fighting Alzheimer’s and scores of other ailments.
It also has a one-in-a-thousand ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. That means it can work directly on your brain, where it fights amyloid peptides—sticky plaques that accumulate in Alzheimer’s-damaged brains and disrupt normal function.
- Interferes with the enzymes that attack memory molecules
- Fights peptides that interfere with memory functions
- Cleans away the lipids that can reduce the flow of blood to the brain
Taking berberine for just two weeks improved memory in rats with Alzheimer’s-like diseases. It’s been found that 1 gram of berberine for every 44 pounds of body weight to be effective. For example, a 100 pound person would take 2,300 milligrams , a 150 pound person would take 3,500 milligrams, etc.
I’m confident berberine will become a go-to weapon in the prevention and reversal arsenal.
Another recent study concluded that cocoa powder could be a powerful preventive agent for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. That’s delicious news.
Then there’s curcumin, currently a darling of the natural healing crowd—for good reasons. In the neurodegenerative disease arena, in one study, people ages 40–90, who took 500 mg three times a day for 12 months, showed better recall and memory than those who took a placebo. And in tests of verbal and memory skills, the placebo group showed reduced cognitive function compared to the curcumin group—after only six months.
Like berberine, curcumin can keep those vicious beta amyloids from accumulating in the brain.
Better still, it’s been shown to remove plaque that’s already there—promising to reverse some of the terrible symptoms of cognitive decline that begin well before any clinical symptoms are evident.
There are plenty of other promising natural remedies in the pipeline. I’ll keep you posted.
A final reminder, as always—if you or a loved one are struggling with symptoms of or worries about cognitive decline, your diet and lifestyle are major contributors to whether you successfully fight back—at least as important as any therapies.
- Block, Will. “Berberine Is A Multipotent Anti-Alzheimer’s Weapon” Life Enhancement, Oct 2011.
- Sauer, Alissa. Pros and Cons of Doll Therapy for People with Alzheimer’snet Published Aug 6, 2014.
- Feen-Calligan, Holly, McIntyre, Barbara, Sands-Goldstein, Margaret. “Art Therapy Applications of Dolls in Grief Recovery, Identity, and Community Service“
- Pezzati, Rita, Molteni, Valentina et al “Can Doll Therapy Preserve or Promote Attachment in People with Cognitive, Behavioral, and Emotional Problems?Can Doll Therapy Preserve or Promote Attachment in People with C
- Gorman, Anna. “Doll Therapy May Help Calm People With Dementia, But It Has Critics.” National Public Radio.