The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    If you found the information here helpful, please consider supporting this site.If you found the information here helpful, please consider supporting this site.

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Review: CAM for treating Alzheimer’s disease

    Dr. Keith Wollen at Washington State University, in Port Angeles, has written a review of treatment options.

    Let’s focus on CAM.

    HuperzineA (HupA)

    • 2 Chinese studies showed significant improvement in cognition, memory, and activities of daily living.
    • A US study in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s patients reported cognitive enhancement.
    • A Cochrane review concluded there are too few studies of sufficient quality to recommend its use.
    • At this point, HupA appears to be effective and better tolerated than FDA-approved drugs, but larger studies are needed.


    • Studies show no benefits in Alzheimer’s disease.


    • Studies are ongoing.

    Ginkgo biloba

    • A Cochrane review of 36 studies concluded the effect of ginkgo was inconsistent.
    • In 1 study, ginkgo and donepezil (Aricept) appeared equally effective over 24 weeks in mild-to-moderate dementia.
    • There is concern over bleed risk with ginkgo, but studies have not confirmed this.

    Panax ginseng

    • There are few studies in Alzheimer’s disease.
    • In 1 study, there was short-term (12-week) benefit, which declined to the level of the control group during the 12-week follow-up.

    Withania somnifera (ashwagandha or Indian ginseng)

    • No published research on Alzheimer’s disease.


    • There’s little research on soy-based phosphatidylserine.
    • Available data are conflicting.

    alpha-Lipoic acid (ALA)

    • Poorly designed studies provide no definitive results.

    Omega-3 fatty acids

    • Data suggest benefits are limited to patients with very mild cognitive impairment.

    Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10; Ubiquinione)/idebenone)

    • Studies report conflicting results.

    B vitamins

    • Low levels appear to be associated with cognitive decline.
    • Studies have focused on changes in homocysteine, with the hope that lower levels will be therapeutic.
    • No apparent effects on cognition.

    Vitamin E

    • 1 study reported that higher levels of vitamin A lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and slowed cognitive decline.


    • Only a few, poorly designed study are available.

    Physical exercise, cognitive training, and socialization

    • Exercise appears to have benefit on executive function (planning, coordination, working memory, abstract thinking, initiation of appropriate actions)
    • Also benefits with memory training and brain exercises in selected patients.
    • Few studies have evaluated music on cognitive function, with benefits confined to very short-term.

    The bottom line?

    Dr Wollen concluded, “At the present time, nutritional, botanical, and stimulatory therapies may provide more benefit and with fewer adverse consequences than conventional medications.”

    12/22/10 21:34 JR

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