Dementia has affected around 24.3 million people all over the world and these figure are only increasing with each passing day. The decrease in the life span as also the inability to perform daily activities are some of the serious outcomes of this grim mental condition which have prompted researchers across the globe to work on long persistent solutions. Lately Nootropics are being considered among other forms of cures to treat memory and concentration problems.
What Is Dementia?
Brain is made up of neurons which transmit data from brain to different parts of the body and vice versa. The Axon and the dendrites along with the cell body help the neurons transmit electrical and chemical signals through specialised connections called synapses. Brain loses these synapses fast during dementia and the chances of reversal is as low as 20 % according to experts.
Dementia is the gradual degeneration of brain and several cognitive activities of the brain with advancing age. Contrary to popular belief dementia is not a disease in itself rather it’s the outcome of any other disorder in the body. Although several forms of dementia persist the treatment of the conditions is feasible rather than the causes.
Forms Of Dementia
There are several types and stages of dementia which effect the brain with passing age. Experts believe that the brain enters the degenerative mode as early as the age of 20. With aging the process gears up and the brain loses almost 5% of its mass every 10 years. Alzheimer, Parkinson and Huntington are some of the common causes of dementia apart from, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia to name a few.
Although health experts have failed to find out the real cause of the disease, much of the brain degeneration is attributed to causes like lack of exercise, pollution, improper diet, and above all stress or genetic disorders.
Nootropics And Dementia
The term Nootropics, was devised by DR. Corneliu E. Giurgen. It includes a series of chemicals man- made as well as naturally occurring which assist in proper cognitive function of the brain. Apparently not all substances which work well for the brain can be categorised as nootropics. Dr corneliu had laid down a 5 point criteria for any substance to qualify as nootropics. Besides protecting enhancing and helping the brain function it should improve the neurological ability and prevent further damage.
Nootropics work on several aspects depending upon the region of brain that has suffered the damage.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
The Alpha lipoic Acid is an anti-oxidant produced in small amounts in the body. It is fat as well as water soluble. The more of it means more anti- oxidants for the body and brain which in turn means more power to fight free radicals. Spinach, broccoli and beef possess naturally occurring ALA. ALA as a nootropic is said to have desiring positive results on treating dementia in the elderly and can be taken along with other Nootropics to achieve the desired results. Acetylcholine levels considered to be a major cause of brain degeneration is said to get boosted with regular intake of ALA along with other Nootropics.
Co enzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant occurring in the body. It helps the cells to convert fat into usable form of energy. Naturally occurring fatty foods such as fatty fish, beef, and poultry are some of the natural sources and nuts seeds and oils are the vegan sources. Ubiqunol form of Co Q 10 is considered to be more effective in the form of supplements. It basically powers the mitochondria in the cells of neurons which form the heart of any communication. CO q 10 as a Nootropic is said to boost blood flow thus slowing degeneration of brain cells and further helping in reducing the occurrence of dementia.
As a hungry body needs food so does a starved brain needs oxygen and glucose. The degeneration of the brain due to dementia can partly be offset by taking creatine which as a Nootropic enhances the energy level of the brain and gets it going. Cretine is produced in the liver as an amino acid and is transported to different parts of the body including the brain. If taken as a supplement it increases the spatial recall and boosts long term memory.
N-Acetyl L – Cysteine
N- Acetyl L – cysteine (NAC) as a Nootropic helps the brain cells fight damage due to free radicals. It restores the glutathione and dopamine levels and reduces the chances of Alzheimer and dementia. This Nootropic is naturally produced in the body and is found in foods like ricotta and cottage cheese yogurt and some meats like duck turkey and chicken.
Decosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential component of the human brain. Memory loss and other cognitive defects have been attributed to beta amyloid plaques. As a Nootropic DHA protects the nerves from degeneration which is very important for prevention of dementia.
B vitamins help slow down the progression of dementia by reducing the rate of brain shrinkage in elders. Vitamin B9 and B12 along with folic acid condition are responsible for increase in amino acids in the bloods again a pre-condition for dementia. B vitamins can be found in an array of food items and taken as supplements as well. Several enzymes in the brain are responsible for maintaining the glutamate concentration in the brain.
How Effective Are Herbal Nootroopics In Curing Dementia?
Nootropics like Modafillin, Aderall and Ritalin have been effective in combating dementia to some extent nonetheless the side effects like increased heart rate, anxiety, insomnia and headache have forced people to look for alternatives.
Huperzine , Nuara Pauma, periwinkle, Catuaba, turmeric, sage, cats claw, Pine bark extract, Gingko biloba are some of the herbal nootropics used to manage dementia. But due to lack of clinical trials and concrete research the usage of these products is regulated and a certified practitioner would refrain from recommending them until they are FDA, ANDA approved.