Eastern (Holistic) Versus Western (Medicine) for Dementia

Eastern (Holistic) Versus Western (Medicine) for Dementia







Eastern (Holistic) Versus Western (Medicine) for Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are the main diseases caused by dementia that has increasingly become common in the elderly. Dementia causes loss of cognitive abilities due to damaged cells that result in poor memory, language difficulties, disorientation, walking difficulties among other effects that make the person incapable of leading a normal life (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2013). Currently, there is not cure to the condition. Treatment for the condition aims at reducing the symptoms that present as well as slowing its progression. Effective drugs that can eliminate the condition or stop its effects are not available (Yan & Tang, 2007). The current western medicine approach for reducing progression and symptoms involve drugs that relieve the symptoms and modify the disease. On the other hand, holistic and integrative approaches from Chinese medicine aim at preventing pathological progression. It uses three approaches that include, “single molecule approach, standardized extracted approach and fixed herbal formula approach,” (Ho, So & Chang, 2011). The approach is holistic since it aims at improving the whole body as opposing to treatment of the brain alone.

Currently, the dementia has been on the increase with an estimated population of 81.1 million by 2040. In china alone, senile dementia population is between six to seven million with an estimated 22.5 million by 2040 (Ferri 2010). The increasing number of dementia cases demands urgent effective treatment and prevention. Therefore, any approach that can prove to prevent as well as treat is most welcome in order to reduce its increase. It is therefore important to have more research on this topic in order to find out more on what can be done to prevent the rise in dementia cases considering their adverse effects. Further, the current popular drugs such as the western pharmacological drugs have not been able to treat all the symptoms. With more research indicating the potential ability of herbal drugs in treating dementia, it is important to have more research to find out its full benefits and effectiveness.

One of the main controversies surrounding the alternative approaches it lack of enough research to show its effectiveness. The western approaches that involve conventional drugs have not been successful in all areas, and further treatment measures would come in handy to treat some of the symptoms. However, the newer holistic approaches from the Chinese have come under criticism since their effectiveness is not fully known. Additionally, many sources cite that the herbal drugs interact with other drugs negatively, which requires patients to check with their doctor (Nutraingredients.com, 2003). More so, they are said to trigger other side effects and may react in different ways to different patients (Lin, 2012). This makes the topic of dementia treatment quite controversial with different sources and studies showing different result on the issue. Although herbs have been used for quite a long time, may have not viewed them as a viable means of treatment. Thus, using herbs for treating such a serious condition raises more controversy.

Holistic approaches to treatment of dementia not only focus on the brain. Rather, the approach considers improvement of the whole body, which could be better than treating just one part while several factors may play a role. According to Diamond et al (2003), “Alternative medicines may ameliorate disturbances in cognition, mood, sleep and activities of daily living,” (p. 982). Another point that makes the holistic treatment better is the fact that it is cheap. The western pharmacological drugs are quite expensive for many people considering their manufacturing. On the other hand, the herbal approaches are less costly and many can access them. Thirdly, it is proven that Chinese holistic approach has fewer side effects compared to the pharmacological chemical drugs (Nutraingredients.com, 2003). However, the chemical drugs might be more effective but with more side effects. Therefore, herbal drugs can be used for treating the condition at its early stages or in milder cases and improving the whole body. Therefore, there is need to conduct further research to ascertain the benefits of Chinese holistic approach.

To conduct the research, I will use the most recent studies on the topic. Most of these researches especially on eastern holistic approaches come from Chinese scholars and researchers. I will also include sources from other areas such as controversy surrounding the topic from various clinical and medical websites. The Chinese sources present research concerning the holistic drugs and their effectiveness.
















Diamond B. et al. (20030. Complementary and alternative medicines in the treatment of dementia: an evidence-based review. Drugs & Aging, 20(3): 981-998.

Ferri CP. Et al. (2010). Global prevalence of dementia: a Delphi consensus study. Lancet. 2005 (366): 2112–2117.

Ho, Y., So, K. & Chang, R.C. (2011). Drug discovery from Chinese medicine against neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Chinese Medicine, 6: 15.

Lin, Z. et al. (2012). Traditional Chinese Medicine for Senile Dementia. Retrieved from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/692621/

Nutraingredients.com. (2003). Chinese Alternative for Dementia Treatment. Retrieved from http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Chinese-alternative-for-dementia-treatment

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2013). Dementia. Retrieve from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/dementia

Yan, H., Li, L. & Tang X.C. (2007). Treating senile dementia with traditional Chinese medicine. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 2(2): 201-208.



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