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Memory loss is a typical factor of Dementia.

Once the presence of dementia is established it is


important to go into the root-cause of it. It could be due to the side effects of taking medications
for high blood pressure, antidepressants, sleeping pills and other medications that a person may
be sensitive too. This is common in older people because after a certain age the body's capacity
to eliminate certain drugs declines.

Although there is no cure for dementia, patients take up other measures like cognitive training.
Though there are certain drugs to cure dementia, there is no drug which can halt or reverse the
damage done to the brain. These drugs only show some improvement in symptoms and diminish
the progression of illness and postpone admission to hospital. However certain symptoms like
depression are treated through medications. In order to avert strokes doctors prescribe medicines
for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and heart disease. Doctors also prescribe drugs to stop
formation of clots in blood vessels. To restore normal supply of blood in case of blockage in the
blood vessels, doctors may suggest surgical procedures like angioplasty, stenting and
endarterectomy.

Medications to reduce restlessness, sleeplessness and depression are also prescribed by the
doctor. Currently no cures for dementia have been approved to prevent the disease. To treat
certain symptoms, and other behavioral problems connected to the disease, sedatives and
antidepressants may be useful. Scientists still continue to find a specific treatment to cure
dementia. The only cure of dementia is alleviating its symptoms.

Take key nutrients that your brain requires to operate properly and prevent spending your old age
in a mental confusion. Food processed these days is not very healthy for our brain. The inclusion
of trans-fatting acids and bad fats in the food destroys the fatty acids which are essential for our
brain.

Our brain needs some important fatty acids such as Omega3 for the long run. Fats constituent
75% of myelin; which is important fatty acid. Consuming 2-4 tablespoon of liquid flax seed oil or
liquid fish oil can be beneficial.

Getting rid of the microbes present in the brain is the crucial part of curing dementia. Electro
medicine treatment known as the Bob Beck protocol helps in getting rid of microbes from a
person's body. Bob Beck protocol disables the microbes thus enabling the body flush it out. By
eliminating each microbe from a person's body it builds up the immune system.
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About dementia

Your brain is made up of billions of nerve cells (neurons) and these form complicated networks.
Usually signals from your body or from outside pass between nerve cells across small gaps
(synapses). Messages travel around your brain in this way and produce a response to the original
signal. This process is helped by chemicals called neurotransmitters.

If you have dementia, the nerve cells in your brain aren't working properly and your brain can't
correctly process the signals going to it. You may have problems communicating, remembering
things and carrying out daily activities.

Usually, it won't be possible to cure your dementia, but some medicines can slow down its
progress.
Symptoms of dementia

You may have some or all of the following symptoms if you have dementia.

You will have memory loss, particularly of recent events. This may not be severe at first but is
likely to become progressively worse. Later, your long-term memory may be affected.
You may have problems finding the right words for what you want to say.
It's possible that you will have trouble thinking clearly and doing practical tasks that you used to
do easily.
You may feel puzzled and disorientated in new places. As dementia progresses, you may have
difficulty finding your way around in familiar places, such as your own home.
The feeling of disorientation may increase so you don't know what month or year it is, or the time
of day. This could cause you to get up in the middle of the night wanting to go out.
Family and friends may notice changes in your personality and behaviour. You may become
withdrawn, prone to fits of temper, or anxious and depressed.
As your dementia worsens, you may no longer be able to look after yourself. It's possible that
eventually you won't recognise close relatives and friends.
Dementia is progressive and in time your symptoms will get more severe. It affects everyone
differently - this is determined by factors such as your personality and the support available to
you. Depending on what is causing your dementia symptoms, its course will vary. If it's a result of
Alzheimer's disease, it will be degenerative (continue to get worse). It's often difficult to predict
the rate at which vascular dementia will progress.

Your symptoms may stay the same for some time and deterioration will be patchy. In vascular
dementia, the blood vessels (vascular system) in your brain become blocked. Not enough blood
and oxygen reach the nerve cells so they die. Areas of brain tissue that have died this way are
called infarcts, so vascular dementia is also called multi-infarct dementia.

This is the second most common type. Health conditions such as high blood pressure and
diabetes may raise your risk of this, as does eating a diet high in salt and fat.

It's difficult to say how long you will live once you are diagnosed with dementia - the type you
have influences this. The average life expectancy for people with Alzheimer's disease is six
years.

Causes of dementia

The main risk factor for late-onset dementia is ageing. Over 65, your risk is one in 20, rising to
one in five if you are over 80. If you are aged 40 to 65, your risk of early-onset dementia is one in
1,400.

There are more than 100 types of dementia. In the UK, the most common cause is Alzheimer's
disease, accounting for nearly two-thirds of cases. If you have Alzheimer's disease, changes
develop in your brain's structure. These lead to the death of nerve cells and disrupt your brain's
usual activity. There is also less of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This is needed for
communicating messages related to memory - having less of it affects your ability to remember
things.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol could result in alcohol-related dementia because your
body doesn't have enough of the B vitamin thiamine.

You may have more than one type at the same time, in particular Alzheimer's disease and
vascular dementia. Your risk of dementia may be affected if someone else in your family has it.
However, more research is needed to better understand this link.

Diagnosis of dementia
If you think you may be developing dementia, or that someone you know may be affected, it's
best to see your GP. You won't usually get a definite diagnosis at your first visit, especially if you
are in the early stages. Your GP may follow your progress for several months to make a more
definitive diagnosis.

Your GP is likely to ask about your medical history, as well as that of your family. He or she will
probably give you a physical examination and may do blood and urine tests to rule out the
possibility of other conditions that could be causing your dementia symptoms. Your GP may carry
out memory tests - one that is often used is the mini mental state examination.

Depending on the outcome of the tests, your GP may refer you to a specialist doctor, psychiatrist
or psychologist. He or she may do more detailed tests and suggest that you have a brain scan
(either a CT, MRI or SPECT scan) to provide more information.

It's difficult for doctors to diagnose what type of dementia you have as the symptoms are very
similar for all of them. However, as medicines advance, it's important to find out what is causing
your dementia as some types can be treated and the symptoms slowed down.

Treatment of dementia

It may be possible to cure some cases of dementia caused by vitamin deficiency or head injury.
In all other cases this won't be possible. However, medicines can treat your symptoms and
prevent them coming on as quickly.

Improving memory and concentration

There are now three medicines that your doctor may prescribe if you are diagnosed with
Alzheimer's disease. They are donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl) and rivastigmine
(Exelon). They reduce the rate at which acetylcholine is destroyed so there is more of it available
to transmit messages around your brain.

As with all medicines, you may have side-effects, including nausea and tiredness. It's worth
carrying on taking the medicine as the side-effects usually fade after a few weeks.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) provides guidance on effective
treatment. NICE has recommended that these medicines should only be offered if you have
moderate Alzheimer's disease. If you have early Alzheimer's disease, you won't be eligible to
receive the medication.

The medicine memantine (Ebixa) works differently. It's used for severe dementia.

Reducing psychiatric problems

As dementia progresses, you may feel depressed. Your GP may prescribe you antidepressants
but there isn't much evidence over whether they are effective.

Your GP may also give you tranquilisers if there are changes in how you feel that cause you to be
aggressive or restless.

Other treatments

There is a range of other therapies that you may find helpful, such as:

reminiscence therapy - discussing past events in groups, usually using photos or familiar objects
to jog your memory
reality orientation - reminding you of where you are and what is going on at the current time
complementary therapies and herbal remedies, although evidence to support these is mixed -
speak to your GP before taking any herbal remedies or vitamin supplements
Prevention of dementia

Some things you can do to try to reduce your risk of developing dementia include:

eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fat
keeping active both physically and mentally - taking regular exercise and playing cards or doing
crosswords
avoiding blows to your head
Living with dementia

Caring for someone at home with dementia can be a difficult and upsetting time. As their
condition deteriorates, you are likely to notice changes in how they behave and symptoms may
be hard to cope with. You may experience emotions such as:

a sense of loss and loneliness


anger or frustration
guilt
As well as family and friends, emotional and practical support is available from:

occupational therapists
voluntary organisations
social services
other carers and support groups
Some hospitals and residential homes offer short-term care for people with dementia to give their
carers a break. In time, you may need to find a care home for the person with dementia if you are
no longer able to look after them and provide dementia care at home...

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Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term that covers Alzheimer's disease, as well as a variety of other
dementing illnesses. The dementias are differentiated by their presumed cause, which include:

Alzheimer's Type
Vascular Dementia
Dementia Due to Other General Medical Conditions (e.g., HIV, head trauma, Parkinson's,
Huntington's)
Substance-Induced Persisting Dementia
Dementia Due to Multiple Etiologies
Dementia is a progressive and degenerative disorder of the brain characterized by multiple
cognitive deficits that include impairment in memory. In the early stages, it can manifest as
absentmindedness or forgetfulness. The patient may forget names, or where they left their keys.
Since most people occasionally forget things, these early symptoms can go unnoticed, however,
they will become more frequent and more severe, eventually developing into other symptoms of
dementia.

As the disease progresses, patients will slowly become unable to care for themselves. At first
they may need only occasional care and supervision, but eventually they will need to be cared for
and supervised at all times.
Who's Affected
Dementia usually only affects people over 65 years of age. Less than two per cent of people
between 65 and 69 years of age suffer from dementia, five per cent between 75 and 79 years old,
20% of people between 85 and 89, and about one in three, or 33% of people over the age of 90
suffer from moderate or severe dementia.

Stages of Dementia
While the progression of dementia symptoms will vary from patient to patient, there is a general
pattern that the disease follows. Not all dementia sufferers will experience all of these symptoms,
but this is a good general guide to how the disease progresses:

Early Symptoms of Dementia


Early indications that someone may be suffering from the onset of dementia include:

Difficulty with regular tasks - Everyone is absentminded from time to time, but people suffering
from dementia will begin to have trouble even with tasks they've been doing for most of their lives
with no problems, such as cooking or driving.
Forgetfulness at work, having negative consequences, such as frequently forgetting
appointments, or deadlines.
Becoming apathetic, losing the ability, or desire, to take initiative on tasks, or take part in hobbies
and activities.
Problems remembering familiar locations, such as where the patient lives, or what year it is.
Problems with abstract thinking, which is the ability to make and understand generalizations.
Could lead to difficulty handling money.
Trouble remembering simple words; often dementia sufferers will substitute inappropriate words
without realizing, making them difficult to understand.
Sudden mood swings with no obvious causes. Changes in personality and increased irritability
are also possible.
Dementia sufferers will experience diminished judgment, often doing or saying completely
inappropriate things.
Losing things and blaming others for "stealing" from them
Moderate Dementia
During this phase, the dementia symptoms will likely become more obvious. They may include:

Forgetting recent events, becoming confused about times and places, remembering events from
the past as though they are the present.
Forgetting names and faces, confusing family members with each other.
Becoming lost, wandering outdoors, often at inappropriate times or in inappropriate clothing.
Forgetting to eat, or maintain proper hygiene/
Auditory and visual hallucinations
Getting frustrated and becoming upset or angry.
Severe Dementia
This is the final stage of dementia, patients will likely be unable to care for themselves and need
round the clock care. Symptoms may include:
Uncontrollable movements
Incontinence
Failure to recognize even objects that we use every day
Restlessness, inability to sleep
Symptoms worsen at night
No longer recognize family or friends; may search for long-dead relatives.
Need help using the toilet, washing or getting dressed.
Difficulty walking and getting around
Become aggressive and easily threatened
Prevention
Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent the onset of dementia, however, experts agree that
staying active in a variety of activities could help to keep the mind sharp and memory loss at bay.
Leisure activities such as playing a musical instrument, dancing, knitting, reading or playing board
games are all thought to help ward off dementia.

Eating a balanced, healthy diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains to ensure that the
body gets all of the nutrients it needs on a daily basis is also thought to be helpful in the battle
against memory loss. Taking Sage oil and vitamin E might also be helpful, but be sure to discuss
any natural remedies with your doctor before you start using them.

Treatments
Presently, there is no cure for dementia. It is possible to treat some early memory loss with
medications, as well as depression that may result from a diagnosis, however, there is nothing
that can be done to halt the progression of the disease.

The key to dealing with dementia is high-quality, comprehensive care that will help the patient feel
more comfortable and safe. Helping dementia sufferers maintain their sense of individuality can
also be beneficial.

There is hope that a cure for dementia will be found soon. Stem cell research is offering some
glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, as well as research into new drugs and other therapies.

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Dementia (meaning "deprived of mind") is a cognitive impairment. It may be static, the result of a
unique global brain injury or progressive, resulting in long-term decline in cognitive function due to
damage or disease in the body beyond what might be expected from normal aging. Although
dementia is far more common in the geriatric population, it may occur in any stage of adulthood.
This age cutoff is defining, as similar sets of symptoms due to organic brain syndrome or
dysfunction, are given different names in populations younger than adult. Up to the end of the
nineteenth century, dementia was a much broader clinical concept.[1]
Dementia is a non-specific illness syndrome (set of signs and symptoms) in which affected areas
of cognition may be memory, attention, language, and problem solving. It is normally required to
be present for at least 6 months to be diagnosed;[2] cognitive dysfunction which has been seen
only over shorter times, particularly less than weeks, must be termed delirium. In all types of
general cognitive dysfunction, higher mental functions are affected first in the process. Especially
in the later stages of the condition, affected persons may be disoriented in time (not knowing what
day of the week, day of the month, or even what year it is), in place (not knowing where they are),
and in person (not knowing who they are or others around them). Dementia, though often
treatable to some degree, is usually due to causes which are progressive and incurable.
Symptoms of dementia can be classified as either reversible or irreversible, depending upon the
etiology of the disease. Less than 10 percent of cases of dementia are due to causes which may
presently be reversed with treatment. Causes include many different specific disease processes,
in the same way that symptoms of organ dysfunction such as shortness of breath, jaundice, or
pain are attributable to many etiologies. Without careful assessment of history, the short-term
syndrome of delirium (often lasting days to weeks) can easily be confused with dementia,
because they have all symptoms in common, save duration, and the fact that delerium is often
associated with over-activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Some mental illnesses, including
depression and psychosis, may also produce symptoms which must be differentiated from both
delirium and dementia

Diagnosis
Proper differential diagnosis between the types of dementia (cortical and subcortical - see below)
will require, at the least, referral to a specialist, e.g. a geriatric internist, geriatric psychiatrist,
neurologist, neuropsychologist or geropsychologist.[citation needed] However, there exist some
brief tests (5–15 minutes) that have reasonable reliability and can be used in the office or other
setting to screen cognitive status for deficits which are considered pathological. Examples of such
tests include the abbreviated mental test score (AMTS), the mini mental state examination
(MMSE), Modified Mini-Mental State Examination (3MS),[4] the Cognitive Abilities Screening
Instrument (CASI),[5] and the clock drawing test.[6] An AMTS score of less than six (out of a
possible score of ten) and an MMSE score under 24 (out of a possible score of 30) suggests a
need for further evaluation. Scores must be interpreted in the context of the person's educational
and other background, and the particular circumstances; for example, a person highly depressed
or in great pain will not be expected to do well on many tests of mental ability.
[edit]Mini-mental state examination
Main article: Mini-mental state examination
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reviewed tests for cognitive impairment and
concluded:[7]
MMSE
sensitivity 71% to 92%
specificity 56% to 96%
[edit]Modified Mini-Mental State examination (3MS)
A copy of the 3MS is online.[8] A meta-analysis concluded that the Modified Mini-Mental State
(3MS) examination has:[9]
sensitivity 83% to 93.5%
specificity 85% to 90%
[edit]Abbreviated mental test score
Main article: abbreviated mental test score
A meta-analysis concluded:[9]
sensitivity 73% to 100%
specificity 71% to 100%
[edit]Duration of symptoms
Duration of symptoms must normally exceed 6 months for a diagnosis of dementia or organic
brain syndrome to be made.
[edit]Other examinations
Many other tests have been studied[10][11][12] including the clock-drawing test (example form).
Although some may emerge as better alternatives to the MMSE, presently the MMSE is the best
studied. However, access to the MMSE is now limited by enforcement of its copyright.[citation
needed]
Another approach to screening for dementia is to ask an informant (relative or other supporter) to
fill out a questionnaire about the person's everyday cognitive functioning. Informant
questionnaires provide complementary information to brief cognitive tests. Probably the best
known questionnaire of this sort is the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the
Elderly (IQCODE).[13]
Further evaluation includes retesting at another date, and administration of other (and sometimes
more complex) tests of mental function, such as formal neuropsychological testing.
[edit]Laboratory tests
Routine blood tests are also usually performed to rule out treatable causes. These tests include
vitamin B12, folic acid, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), C-reactive protein, full blood count,
electrolytes, calcium, renal function, and liver enzymes. Abnormalities may suggest vitamin
deficiency, infection or other problems that commonly cause confusion or disorientation in the
elderly. The problem is complicated by the fact that these cause confusion more often in persons
who have early dementia, so that "reversal" of such problems may ultimately only be temporary.
Chronic use of substances such as alcohol can also predispose the patient to cognitive changes
suggestive of dementia.
[edit]Imaging
A CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) is commonly performed, although these
modalities do not have optimal sensitivity for the diffuse metabolic changes associated with
dementia in a patient who shows no gross neurological problems (such as paralysis or weakness)
on neurological exam. CT or MRI may suggest normal pressure hydrocephalus, a potentially
reversible cause of dementia, and can yield information relevant to other types of dementia, such
as infarction (stroke) that would point at a vascular type of dementia.
The functional neuroimaging modalities of SPECT and PET are more useful in assessing long-
standing cognitive dysfunction, since they have shown similar ability to diagnose dementia as a
clinical exam.[14] The ability of SPECT to differentiate the vascular cause from the Alzheimer
disease cause of dementias, appears to be superior to differentiation by clinical exam.[15]
[edit]Types

This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. You can help by
converting this article to prose, if appropriate. Editing help is available. (January 2009)
[edit]Cortical dementias
Cortical dementias arise from a disorder affecting the cerebral cortex, the outer layers of the brain
that play a critical role in cognitive processes such as memory and language.
Alzheimer's disease
Vascular dementia (also known as multi-infarct dementia), including Binswanger's disease
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
Alcohol-Induced Persisting Dementia
Korsakoff's syndrome
Wernicke's encephalopathy
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), including: Pick's disease, Frontotemporal dementia
(or frontal variant FTLD), Semantic dementia (or temporal variant FTLD), and Progressive non-
fluent aphasia
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
Dementia pugilistica
Moyamoya disease
Posterior cortical atrophy (an Alzheimer's disease variant).
[edit]Subcortical dementias
Subcortical dementias result from dysfunction in the parts of the brain that are beneath the cortex.
Usually, the memory loss and language difficulties that are characteristic of cortical dementias are
not present. Rather, people with subcortical dementias, such as Huntington's disease,
Parkinson's Disease, and AIDS dementia complex, tend to show changes in their personality and
attention span, and their thinking slows down.
Dementia due to Huntington's disease
Dementia due to Hypothyroidism
Dementia due to Parkinson's disease
Dementia due to Vitamin B1 deficiency
Dementia due to Vitamin B12 deficiency
Dementia due to Folate deficiency
Dementia due to Syphilis
Dementia due to Subdural hematoma
Dementia due to Hypercalcaemia
Dementia due to Hypoglycemia
AIDS dementia complex
Pseudodementia (a major depressive episode with prominent cognitive symptoms)
Substance-induced persisting dementia (related to psychoactive use and formerly Absinthism)
Dementia due to multiple etiologies
Dementia due to other general medical conditions (i.e. end stage renal failure, cardiovascular
disease etc.)
Dementia not otherwise specified (used in cases where no specific criteria is met)
Dementia and early onset dementia have been associated with neurovisceral porphyrias.
Porphyria is listed in textbooks in the differential diagnosis of dementia. Because acute
intermittent porphyria, hereditary coproporphyria and variegate porphyria are aggravated by
environmental toxins and drugs the disorders should be ruled out when these etiologies are
raised.
[edit]Treatment

Except for the treatable types listed above, there is no cure to this illness, although scientists are
progressing in making a type of medication that will slow down the process.[citation needed]
Cholinesterase inhibitors are often used early in the disease course. Cognitive and behavioral
interventions may also be appropriate. Educating and providing emotional support to the
caregiver (or carer) is of importance as well (see also elderly care).
A Canadian study found that a lifetime of bilingualism has a marked influence on delaying the
onset of dementia by an average of four years when compared to monolingual patients. The
researchers determined that the onset of dementia symptoms in the monolingual group occurred
at the mean age of 71.4, while the bilingual group was 75.5 years. The difference remained even
after considering the possible effect of cultural differences, immigration, formal education,
employment and even gender as influences in the results.[16]
Some studies worldwide have found that Music therapy may be useful in helping patients with
dementia.[17][18][19][20][21]
[edit]Medications
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors
Tacrine (Cognex), donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Razadyne), and rivastigmine (Exelon) are
approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of dementia
induced by Alzheimer disease. They may be useful for other similar diseases causing dementia
such as Parkinsons or vascular dementia.[22]
N-methyl-D-aspartate Blockers. Memantine (Namenda) is a drug representative of this class. It
can be used in combination with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.[23][24]
[edit]Off label
Amyloid deposit inhibitors
Minocycline and Clioquinoline, antibiotics, may help reduce amyloid deposits in the brains of
persons with Alzheimer disease.[25]
Antidepressant drugs
Depression is frequently associated with dementia and generally worsens the degree of cognitive
and behavioral impairment. Antidepressants effectively treat the cognitive and behavioral
symptoms of depression in patients with Alzheimer's disease,[26] but evidence for their use in
other forms of dementia is weak.[27]
Anxiolytic drugs
Many patients with dementia experience anxiety symptoms. Although benzodiazepines like
diazepam (Valium) have been used for treating anxiety in other situations, they are often avoided
because they may increase agitation in persons with dementia and are likely to worsen cognitive
problems or are too sedating. Buspirone (Buspar) is often initially tried for mild-to-moderate
anxiety.[citation needed] There is little evidence for the effectiveness of benzodiazepines in
dementia whereas there is evidence for the effectivess of antipsychotics (at low doses).[28]
Selegiline, a drug used primarily in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, appears to slow the
development of dementia. Selegiline is thought to act as an antioxidant, preventing free radical
damage. However, it also acts as a stimulant, making it difficult to determine whether the delay in
onset of dementia symptoms is due to protection from free radicals or to the general elevation of
brain activity from the stimulant effect.[29]
Antipsychotic drugs
Both typical antipsychotics (such as Haloperidol) and atypical antipsychotics such as
(risperidone) increases the risk of death in dementia-associated psychosis.[30] This means that
any use of antipsychotic medication for dementia-associated psychosis is off-label and should
only be considered after discussing the risks and benefits of treatment with these drugs, and after
other treatment modalities have failed.
[edit]Prevention

Main article: Prevention of dementia


It appears that the regular moderate consumption of alcohol (beer, wine, or distilled spirits) and a
Mediterranean diet may reduce risk.[31][32][33][34] A study has shown a link between high blood
pressure and developing dementia. The study, published in the Lancet Neurology journal July
2008, found that blood pressure lowering medication reduced dementia by 13%.[35][36]
There has been much research showing capability for psychoactive ingredients in Cannabis
preventing and helping reverse damage from dementia.[citation needed] Compounds in Cannabis
(cannabinoids), specifically ∆9THC and Cannabidol, are neuroprotective antioxidents that
stimulate neurogenesis. The existence of CB1 and CB2 receptors (cannabinoid receptors) in the
hippocampus and other important areas of the brain, allow for the possibility of preventing
dementia.

Herbs hold clue to curing dementia

MEDICAL scientists have enlisted the help of a classics scholar to comb ancient texts on herbs in
an effort to find potential leads for new drugs. The unique collaboration has already identified two
plants whose extracts appear to have neurochemical effects similar to drugs used for treating
Alzheimer's disease.

The work is being done at the newly established Medicinal Plant Research Centre at the
University of Newcastle. The centre's director, Professor Elaine Perry, an expert in the
biochemistry of neurological disorders, said: "Over the past few years I have become interested in
whether or not there might be traditional approaches to treating memory disorders with plants and
whether we could take these plants and look closely at their biological activity."

Professor Perry discovered that the university had a botanical garden that could grow herbs for
experiments, and that in its classics department was a plant enthusiast who was one of a handful
of people in the country capable of translating scientific Latin texts: Dr Elizabeth Lazenby.

"While you can glean information from the currently available herbal texts, it may be of limited
value in that most of the herbals have in turn obtained their information from others," Professor
Perry said. "It's important to trace the origin of statements so that they can be validated."

Professor Perry asked Dr Lazenby to search herbal literature for references to mood and memory
disorders.

"This was difficult," said Dr Lazenby, "because these were very abstract concepts to the ancient
world, and such ailments were generally considered merely an indication of advancing age. So I
searched for terms such as insania, concitatio, animi perturbatio, oblivio, immemor ingenum -
mania, hysteria and memory loss."

Eventually, three plants emerged as possible contenders: sage, balm and rosemary.

Paracelsus (1493-1541), the Swiss physician, sold balm to kings as an elixir of life and as a
safeguard against early senility, while Avicenna, a doctor in 10th-century Syria, proclaimed that
the herb "maketh the heart merry and strengtheneth the vitall spirits".

Sage was said by the English herbalist Gerard in 1597 to be "good for the head and brain, it
quickeneth the senses and memory", a sentiment echoed by Culpeper ("excellent ... to help the
memory"). An old English proverb states that "He that would live for aye/Must eat sage in May".
And The Grete Herball of 1526 suggested that rosemary was a good cure "for weyknesse of ye
brain".
The three plants were grown in the botanic garden and taken to the laboratory for analysis.
Rosemary did not appear to have any significant activity in test-tube experiments, but sage and
balm did.

The clinical treatment of Alzheimer's focuses on a molecule in the brain called acetylcholine,
which plays a central role in transmitting nerve signals. There are two fundamental ways of
increasing the activity of this neurotransmitter: to inhibit the naturally occurring enzyme,
acetylcholinesterase, which breaks down acetylcholine; or to increase the activity of the receptors
on nerve cells that bind acetylcholine.

"In the laboratory we tested the effect of the plant extracts on the enzyme and the receptors,"
Professor Perry said. "We found that the extract of sage inhibited acetylcholinesterase in a similar
way to Aricept, the drug which is used for this purpose. While balm extract did not have an effect
on the enzyme, it did stimulate the receptors."

Chemists are now working on the plants to identify which compounds in the extracts are
biologically active. There may be a single chemical responsible for the activity, or several may be
working together.

Once the compounds are identified, Professor Perry hopes to set up clinical trials, using either the
actual plant material, whole extracts or the biologically active compounds alone. She stresses,
however, that the work is in its early stages: "Before people start rushing out and consuming vast
quantities of these plants it is important to await the outcome of carefully controlled clinical trials."

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Dementia: What Are the Common Signs?

What is dementia?

Dementia is a problem in the brain that makes it hard for a person to remember, learn and
communicate. After a while, this makes it hard for the person to take care of himself or herself.

Dementia may also change a person's mood and personality. At first, memory loss and trouble
thinking clearly may bother the person who has dementia. Later, disruptive behavior and other
problems may start. The person who has dementia may not be aware of these problems.

Return to top

What causes dementia?

Dementia is caused by the destruction of brain cells. A head injury, a stroke, a brain tumor or a
problem like Alzheimer's disease can damage brain cells. Some people have a family history of
dementia.
Return to top

What are some common signs of dementia?

Dementia causes many problems for the person who has it and for the person's family. Many of
the problems are caused by memory loss. Some common signs of dementia are listed below. Not
everyone who has dementia will have all of these signs.

Recent memory loss. All of us forget things for a while and then remember them later. People
with dementia often forget things, but they never remember them. They might ask you the same
question over and over, each time forgetting that you've already given them the answer. They
won't even remember that they already asked the question.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks. People who have dementia might cook a meal but forget to
serve it. They might even forget that they cooked it.
Problems with language. People who have dementia may forget simple words or use the wrong
words. This makes it hard to understand what they want.
Time and place disorientation. People who have dementia may get lost on their own street. They
may forget how they got to a certain place and how to get back home.
Poor judgment. Even a person who doesn't have dementia might get distracted. But people who
have dementia can forget simple things, like forgetting to put on a coat before going out in cold
weather.
Problems with abstract thinking. Anybody might have trouble balancing a checkbook, but people
who have dementia may forget what the numbers are and what has to be done with them.
Misplacing things. People who have dementia may put things in the wrong places. They might put
an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl. Then they can't find these things later.
Changes in mood. Everyone is moody at times, but people with dementia may have fast mood
swings, going from calm to tears to anger in a few minutes.
Personality changes. People who have dementia may have drastic changes in personality. They
might become irritable, suspicious or fearful.
Loss of initiative. People who have dementia may become passive. They might not want to go
places or see other people.
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What if I have any of these signs of dementia?

Talk with your doctor. Your doctor can do tests to find out if your signs are caused by dementia.
The sooner you know, the sooner you can talk to your doctor about treatment options.
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What if a family member has signs of dementia?

If your family member has some of the signs of dementia, try to get him or her to go see a doctor.
You may want to go along and talk with the doctor before your relative sees him or her. Then you
can tell the doctor about the way your relative is acting without embarrassing your relative.
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Dementia: What Are the Common Signs?

What is dementia?

Dementia is a problem in the brain that makes it hard for a person to remember, learn and
communicate. After a while, this makes it hard for the person to take care of himself or herself.

Dementia may also change a person's mood and personality. At first, memory loss and trouble
thinking clearly may bother the person who has dementia. Later, disruptive behavior and other
problems may start. The person who has dementia may not be aware of these problems.

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What causes dementia?

Dementia is caused by the destruction of brain cells. A head injury, a stroke, a brain tumor or a
problem like Alzheimer's disease can damage brain cells. Some people have a family history of
dementia.
Return to top

What are some common signs of dementia?

Dementia causes many problems for the person who has it and for the person's family. Many of
the problems are caused by memory loss. Some common signs of dementia are listed below. Not
everyone who has dementia will have all of these signs.

Recent memory loss. All of us forget things for a while and then remember them later. People
with dementia often forget things, but they never remember them. They might ask you the same
question over and over, each time forgetting that you've already given them the answer. They
won't even remember that they already asked the question.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks. People who have dementia might cook a meal but forget to
serve it. They might even forget that they cooked it.
Problems with language. People who have dementia may forget simple words or use the wrong
words. This makes it hard to understand what they want.
Time and place disorientation. People who have dementia may get lost on their own street. They
may forget how they got to a certain place and how to get back home.
Poor judgment. Even a person who doesn't have dementia might get distracted. But people who
have dementia can forget simple things, like forgetting to put on a coat before going out in cold
weather.
Problems with abstract thinking. Anybody might have trouble balancing a checkbook, but people
who have dementia may forget what the numbers are and what has to be done with them.
Misplacing things. People who have dementia may put things in the wrong places. They might put
an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl. Then they can't find these things later.
Changes in mood. Everyone is moody at times, but people with dementia may have fast mood
swings, going from calm to tears to anger in a few minutes.
Personality changes. People who have dementia may have drastic changes in personality. They
might become irritable, suspicious or fearful.
Loss of initiative. People who have dementia may become passive. They might not want to go
places or see other people.
Return to top

What if I have any of these signs of dementia?

Talk with your doctor. Your doctor can do tests to find out if your signs are caused by dementia.
The sooner you know, the sooner you can talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Return to top

What if a family member has signs of dementia?

If your family member has some of the signs of dementia, try to get him or her to go see a doctor.
You may want to go along and talk with the doctor before your relative sees him or her. Then you
can tell the doctor about the way your relative is acting without embarrassing your relative.

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