08 Jan Age Related Cognitive Decline – ARCD
While working in my pharmacy I had a regular customer who came in monthly to purchase her memory pills (lecithin). She would walk in and say “Dave, I need my memory pills” and reach down and pick up a bottle and walk to the register. One day several months later, she walked into my store and said “Dave, I need my memory pills but forget what they are”. My response was “you must have been out of them for awhile”. I know that sounds cruel, but she laughed we figured out what she needed. As our aging population continues grow, this type of situation will grow too. Is your memory going bad
because you have too many trains on the track or because you are in the beginning stages of Age-related Cognitive Decline (ARCD)? We all expect to lose a bit of our memory as we age. I remember my Grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease my last few years of Pharmacy school. It was horrible. ARCD is related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of Dementia but the onset is more gradual with ARCD than other forms of cognitive decline. People with ARCD have problems with memory and learning, thinking, use of language, attention and concentration and many other functions of memory. My advice is if you or a loved one are suspicious of problems with cognition; please consult a qualified health care provider to get a proper diagnosis.
There are many reasons for our memory or thinking to decline, and regretfully aging can be part of it. There are very sophisticated tests that can be done to see how sever a persons decline might be. There are a few risk factors that need to be taken into account too. These include age, prior heart attack or failure and being female. Obviously these are just risk factors and don’t necessarily mean you will have issues with ARCD if you have one of these factors.
Luckily for us, natural medicine offers us several approaches to this dreadful condition. Let’s take a look at a few dietary changes that can be made to help delay the onset or maybe even prevent it from happening altogether. Make sure your diet is high in antioxidants. Berries, greens, red, yellow and orange fruits and veggies are naturally high in antioxidants. Believe it or not, consuming a bit of caffeine can improve your cognitive abilities. I would rather have you use tea to get this caffeine, but I am also a realist and coffee does offer caffeine and other health benefits in moderation.
Lifestyle adjustments like stopping smoking, increasing activity (exercise) and getting enough rest (all part of my Four Pillars of Great Health) will also aid in the fight against this slowly developing condition. Remember, following my 4-Pillars (Supplements, Diet, Activity and Prayer) will carry you a long way in every health challenge you face.
Moving into the supplement side of this condition, Mother Nature offers us a few exciting and science based alternatives. As my article on ALC states, taking a supplement of ALC at a dose of 1500mg per day can significantly improve cognitive function, including memory, mood and response to other health related issues. The response to ALC even lasted for about a month even after the supplement was discontinued. One of my favorites for nervous system support is Phosphatidylserine (PS) or the newest version of PS Alpha-GPC (Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine—now you know why it is called Alpha GPC) because they provide a key nutrient used in neurotransmitter production (Choline) PS or Alpha GPC are mentioned in all of my recommendations for nervous system support. If you give the body the tools it needs, it will take care of itself. Science has shown that taking PS can significantly improve cognitive function and help a host of other nervous system disorders including depression.
There are a few newcomers to the block with regards to improving the symptoms of ARCD; vinpocetine and Huperzine A. Vinpocetine taken in doses of 30 to 60mg per day has shown to improve the symptoms of those with dementia and cognitive decline. Huperzine A on the other hand may require 100-150mcg taken 2 to 3 times per day to reach your desired effects. Both of these supplements tend to work in the first month to six weeks. As with any supplement program, you will want to allow 60-90 days before deciding if there is improvement.
Finally, it is important to remember that this condition comes on gradually as apposed to its closely related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. You need to take a proactive approach by incorporating the lifestyle changes (diet, exercise etc.) along with your supplement program. Don’t give up. If one supplement doesn’t seem to work, either try a different compound or add something new. Also consult with your health care provider for additional assistance and recommendations.