Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease


Since Alzheimer’s disease is commonly a slow process, the disease affects people differently and therefore individuals respond to different treatments uniquely. Currently, there is no drug or treatment program that stops the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. However, for individuals who are in mild, and middle stages of the disease, certain drugs have proven successful.

The latest drugs for treating Alzheimer’s disease

Aricept (donepezil)

Given orally, this medication is a reversible inhibitor of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. It is used to treat symptoms in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Our brains normally produce acetylcholine, a chemical thought to be important for learning and memory. People with Alzheimer’s disease have lower brain levels of acetylcholine. Aricept acts by decreasing the activity of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme whose function is to break down acetylcholine. It is believed that by reducing the breakdown of acetylcholine, it will lead to an increase in the level of acetylcholine in the brain.

Cognex (tacrine)

Given orally, this is another medication that inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Tacrine will not cure Alzheimer’s disease, and it will not stop the disease from getting worse. However, tacrine can improve thinking ability in some patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Exelon (rivastigmine)

Another cholinesterase inhibitor given orally. This medication is used to treat loss of memory and thinking ability associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Razadyne (galantamine)

This medication was formerly known as Reminyl. It was changed to razadyne on July 1st 2005. Razadyne is a competitive acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. It has been shown to treat some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease successfully.

Namenda (memantine)

Approved by the FDA in October, 2003, this medication is given orally, and works different from the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. It it thought that too much glutamate in the brain can cause cellular damage. Namenda works by blocking the effects of glutamate.


Clinical trials have shown that vitamin E slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by about seven months. Current clinical trials are underway to determine whether vitamin E will slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Other clinical trials are underway to determine whether vitamin E and selenium supplements can help slow or prevent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ginkgo Biloba

The latest studies using Ginkgo Biloba extract from leaves has shown this chemical to be of some help with treating Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. However, there is no evidence that Ginkgo Biloba but will cure or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there is some clinical evidence showing that Ginkgo Biloba can delay cognitive deficits or prevent dementia to a certain extent in older people.


Clinical trials have been conducted showing that estrogen therapy can protect the brain against damages caused by Alzheimer’s disease. These studies were originally conducted using estrogen on women for hormone replacement therapy. Positive response regarding Alzheimer’s disease prevention, was noted as a side effect. Current evidence has shown while estrogen therapy can help prevent the severity or symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it will not slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease once it has already been diagnosed. Also, one study showed that women over the age of 65 who were receiving estrogen and progestin therapy, were at greater risk of dementia and greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

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