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Approved Drug Therapies and Alternative Treatments

There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but there are drugs that may improve memory and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease:

      • Tacrine (Cognex)
      • Donepezil (Aricept)
      • Rivastigmine (Exelon)
      • Galantamine (Reminyl)

These drugs have been approved by the FDA. You need to talk to your physician about these drugs. Some are more effective in the earlier stages of Alzheimer's disease, and some have side effects about which you need to be aware.

Alzheimer's disease can present behavorial problems like depression, agitation, anxiety, and sleep disruption. A doctor may prescribe drugs or vitamins that address these problems. Again, consult with your physician.

Because many older adults take several medications at one time, it is possible that these drugs can interact with one another and be a danger. If more than one doctor is prescribing medications, it is important to keep each doctor aware of all the drugs being taken. You can keep them informed either by taking all your drugs in a paper sack to present to your doctor, or by list. *If listing, be sure to include information such as dosage and frequency, because your doctor will not only have a need to know what you are taking, but also how much and how often.


Having one pharmacist that fills all of your prescriptions is a good way to prevent taking drugs that interact and cause problems. Over-the-counter or non-prescription drugs also can cause problems. Talk with your pharmacist before using them with your prescribed medications.


Sites that offer information or assistance for various prescription drugs


Alternative Treatment

No doubt, you will hear rumors and ads promoting the effectiveness of certain herbs or dietary supplements in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. You should know that most are not regulated by the FDA, their purity is unknown, and that their effects are not monitored. Before beginning any alternative treatment program, consult a doctor; failure to do so could be detrimental to your health.


Ginko Biloba

Ginko Biloba is a traditional Chinese medicine that is being used to improve cognitive ability. More research is needed on this plant extract, and as yet there has not been enough research to verify the claims of its users.

Few side effects have been reported, but it is known to affect the clotting of blood, which could lead to blood thinning and associated risks and problems, including blood clotting. One should consult with trained medical personnel before taking this or any other alternative treatment.


Huperzine A

Huperzine A is another traditional Chinese medicine. It is a moss extract that is known to have some of the same characteristics as approved medicines. Taking this drug with certain Alzheimer's medications can have serious adverse effects. Research is ongoing, but in the meantime consult with trained medical personnel before taking this or any other alternative treatment.


Last updated 09/10/13.