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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Kong Teck Chuan and Dr Eki Wari on October 25, 2022

Best Treatment Options to Correct Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms

Lewy body dementia symptoms are not usually as severe as Alzheimer's disease, but they can still lead to significant memory loss. Here's how to best manage the condition.

Lewy body min scaled

Has your loved one recently started showing Lewy body dementia symptoms? If so, it’s time to act fast.

For most, the condition cannot be reversed. However, adequate treatment can help stop the disease from worsening quickly.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remedies can help. They work by restoring balance and correcting imbalances in the body that lead to disease.

Read on to learn more about how to manage Lewy body dementia symptoms using both holistic and Western medicine approaches.

What Are Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms?

An elderly lady smiling at the caregiver, holding on to a walking cane
Parkinson’s disease often accompanies Lewy body dementia symptoms.

Lewy body dementia is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s. It occurs when proteins called Lewy bodies develop in nerve cells located in areas of the brain that control movement, memory, and cognitive abilities.

It causes a slow decline in your mental abilities. People with this condition may also develop hallucinations, REM sleep behavior disorder, or Parkinson’s disease.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Sudden changes in attention and alertness
  • Slow movements, tremors or rigidity
  • Changes in thinking and reasoning
  • Cognitive behavior that is delirium-like
  • Recurrent and well-formed visual hallucinations
  • REM sleep behavior disorder that includes acting out dreams
  • Problems interpreting visual information
  • Malfunctions of the autonomic nervous system, such as problems with sweating, blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and sexual responses
  • Significant memory loss

What Causes Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms?

Lewy body dementia occurs when there are too many alpha-synuclein proteins – also called Lewy bodies – in the brain. There are many other kinds of dementia, and some of these also occur due to abnormal protein accumulation.

Sometimes, two types of dementia can be present in the brain simultaneously. People with the syndrome may also have reversible, underlying problems, such as increased blood pressure in the brain, a vitamin deficiency, or thyroid hormone imbalance. It can also arise as a temporary side effect of medication use.

According to TCM, dementia is caused by Kidney Deficiency, Liver Depression, Phlegm turbidity, Blood Deficiency, or Stasis. “A chronic Deficiency of the Heart, Kidney, and Spleen, Blood and Qi Stasis, and turbid Phlegm affecting the mind can aggravate one’s risk of dementia,” explains Eu Yan Sang Physician Kong Teck Chuan.

“Therefore, modes of treating it include nourishing the Kidney and filling the essence, dissipating Phlegm for resuscitation, strengthening the Spleen and qi, promoting blood circulation and Stasis, and calming the Liver and yang, while calming and nourishing the mind,” continued Physician Kong.

Stages Of Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms

People often overlook early-stage dementia because it comes about gradually. During this stage, a person may experience three notable symptoms. These are: 

  • Forgetfulness 
  • Frequently losing track of time  
  • Getting lost in locations in usually familiar locations 

When the condition progresses to the middle stage, a person’s symptoms will worsen and may include:  

  • Confusion, even while being at home 
  • A struggle to communicate 
  • Requiring personal care assistance 
  • Being unable to recollect people’s names and recent events 
  • Behavioral changes like wandering and repeatedly asking the same questions

Late-stage dementia, meanwhile, describes an inactive person who needs to depend wholly on another. In addition, memory disturbances will become severe and physical symptoms more apparent. For instance, the affected person may react with aggression, not be able to walk, lose complete awareness of time and place, and find it hard to recognize the faces of friends and relatives.

How To Treat Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms

An elderly lady and man playing puzzle with a nurse
Keeping your mind sharp can help deter the progression of dementia.

A neurologist – a specialist who focuses on brain and nervous system disorders – is the most qualified to diagnose and treat dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians too, can identify the syndrome effectively.

Firstly, these healthcare providers will review a person’s medical history and genetic predisposition to dementia. They may also order diagnostic procedures like a psychiatric evaluation, brain scans or blood, genetic, and cognitive and behavioral tests.

Change your lifestyle habits

Healthy habits can clear cholesterol build-up, help a person stay at a healthy weight, and maintain normal blood pressure and sugar levels. They’ll also fuel the brain with oxygen and the nutrients needed to function optimally. A few lifestyle modifications can be considered, such as: 

“For the Heart and Spleen, emotional distress, overthinking, and anxiety can cause yin and blood to be depleted. Chronic illnesses, old age, and excessive sexual activity could deplete the Kidney essence jing, leading to Deficiency in the brain. Thinking becomes cloudy and one could experience forgetfulness. So, it is important to protect and take care of these organs. This includes living a healthy lifestyle, avoiding smoking, and practicing Tai Chi,” stated Physician Kong.

Consider prescription medications

Multiple medications are approved for dementia treatment. These can be anti-amyloid antibodies, cholinesterase inhibitors, and NMDA receptor antagonists.

Cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA receptor antagonists influence chemical processes in the brain. Hence, these can improve or stabilize memory functions in people with dementia.

An anti-amyloid antibody destroys amyloid proteins that can accumulate as plaque in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Physical therapy and holistic treatments

Health supplements derived from ingredients like astragalus (Huang Qi), Ginkgo biloba (Yin Xing Ye), and Panax Notoginseng (San Qi) can help with memory and dementia-associated symptoms.

Acupuncture can promote a better flow of blood and Qi (vital life force) and improve cognitive functions. A few of the acupressure points that are effective include Bai Hui (GV20), He Gu (LI4), and Tai Chong (LR3).

Early intervention is integral to helping people with dementia live memorably. By acting fast, you can also detect and prevent further progression of underlying conditions that may cause cognitive impairment. Speaking to a licensed TCM practitioner may also help a person distinguish between alternative dementia treatment options suitable for their body constitutions.

References

  1. National Health and Morbidity Survey 2018: Elderly Health. 2018. Volume Two: Elderly Health Findings
  2. UM Specialist Centre. The Most Common Cause of Dementia: Alzheimer’s Disease
  3. National Institute on Aging. What is Dementia? Symptoms, Types, and Diagnosis
  4. Cleveland Clinic. Dementia
  5. Alzheimer’s Assocation. Dementia with Lewy Bodies. 

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