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Mangosteen and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's disease, also known as Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type (SDAT) or simply Alzheimer's, is a brain disorder named after German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer, who first recognized the disease in 1906.  Over the past century, scientists have learned a great deal about this degenerative and terminal disease. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities. Alzheimer’s disease currently accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases. In majority of patients, Alzheimer’s is diagnosed above the age of 65; however, the less-prevalent early-onset Alzheimer's can have an earlier manifestation of symptoms. Alzheimer's is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people worldwide by 2050. In the U.S., as many as 5.3 million people are living with this progressive and fatal brain disorder.

In general, Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and impairments with cognition and behavior that may be severe enough to affect work and social life. It also hampers the patient’s ability to make critical judgments and carry out normal daily functions. As Alzheimer’s progresses, a patient may exhibit changes in personality as well as signs of anxiety, depression, agitation, delusions and hallucinations. The disease simply gets worse overtime and it is fatal. It is now the seventh leading cause of mortality in the United States.

Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

The course of Alzheimer’s varies among patients but there are common symptoms. These include confusion, changes in personality, inability to acquire new memories, irritability and aggression, language difficulties, mood swings, and problems with attention and spatial orientation. Usually, these symptoms are mild and may be mistaken for signs of aging. In fact, during the early stages Alzheimer’s symptoms may not be apparent to the patient, family and even health professionals. As the disease advances, symptoms also worsen and may include long-term memory loss and general withdrawal of the patient as their senses decline. Bodily functions are gradually lost so the patient becomes completely dependent. Ultimately death will occur.

The prognosis of Alzheimer’s is difficult to assess because the duration of the disease differs among individuals. The disease develops for an indefinite period before symptoms become fully apparent. The average life expectancy is eight to ten years after diagnosis but in some cases the disease can last up to 20 years. However, less than three percent of patients live more than fourteen years after diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

Once the presence of Alzheimer’s is suspected, the diagnosis is normally confirmed through cognitive tests and behavioral assessments. A CT scan or MRI can also be performed. To date, the exact cause and progression of Alzheimer’s remains vague but recent research and studies reveal that it is related to the development of plaques and tangles in the brain. There is no definitive treatment but the symptoms can be managed through medications, psychological intervention, along with the appropriate services and support.

Regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) have approved four types of medications to treat the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Three are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors while the other is an NMDA receptor antagonist called memantine.  Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors commonly prescribed for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease include Aricept (donezepil HCL), Exelon (rivastigmine), and Razadyne (galantamine). Memantine (brand names Akatinol, Axura, Ebixa/Abixa, Memox and Namenda), was first used as an anti-influenza agent. It has been shown to be moderately effective in the treatment of moderate to severe cases of Alzheimer’s.

Psychosocial interventions are typically used as an adjunct to pharmaceutical drugs and can be categorized as behaviour-, emotion-, cognition- or stimulation-oriented approaches.  Studies and research on efficacy of such approaches are unavailable and are seldom specific to Alzheimer’s. They generally concentrate on addressing issues associated with dementia.  Finally, since Alzheimer's has no cure and it slowly renders patients incapable of attending to their needs, caregiving is basically the treatment and should be carefully planned and managed throughout the course of the disease.

Mangosteen Help for Alzheimer’s

For over a century, science has not provided an absolute cure for Alzheimer’s. The aforementioned treatment approaches are palliative at best and their efficacy has yet to be completely established. Interestingly, nature appears to provide for the minor scientific shortcomings.  What has been dubbed as Asia’s queen of fruits, mangosteen has been providing a wide array of health benefits since time immemorial  It has recently caught the attention of the scientific and medical communities. Various research and scientific tests indicate that highly potent compounds called xanthones present in mangosteen can help resolve the inflammation within brain tissue. These studies are quite promising indeed as they reveal that managosteen is capable of addressing the inflammation in the brain that is being linked to Alzheimer’s disease. There are also studies which suggest that anti-inflammatory supplements have the potential to prevent or hamper the progression of Alzheimer’s especially when supplementation is initiated early in the course of the disease.

In another breakthrough development, an allopathic doctor incorporated mangosteen into the treatment regimen of his Alzheimer’s patients. Remarkably, there appeared to be enhanced brain functioning among his patients who already received conventional Alzheimer’s medications. This is indeed promising as most of the traditional drugs used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s do not show any improvement of any functional abilities among patients. They simply aim at slowing down the progression of the disease. While a lot more studies are needed, this particular study highlights the amazing health and therapeutic benefits that can be obtained from mangosteen.

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