Don’t let dementia “pseudomedicine” fool you

It’s always tempting to try “the next big thing” – and with no current cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, who wouldn’t want a supplement that can boost brain power or a new therapy that can stave off the memory loss.

A recent editorial in the Journal of American Medical Association warns against “pseudomedicine” – misleading but scientific-sounding information that can spread rapidly and quickly garner followers.

There is currently a huge market for these over-the-counter “treatments” that can give false hope to those who suffer from dementia and their families.

The AARP gives the following recommendations to avoid falling for pseudomedicine:

Double-check the journal in which a study is published – “It’s always important to consider the quality of the study and its limitations, which sometimes can be hard even for medical doctors to discern,” said Joanna Helmuth, assistant professor at the Memory and Aging Center at the University of San Francisco, California and first author of the editorial. “These journals often have titles that sound convincing and can even fool scientists looking to publish their work,” she continued.

Realize that supplements and unproven treatments can be dangerous – Many assume that supplements that can be bought over-the-counter are relatively harmless but that can be far from the truth. These medications can still have a variety of side effects and adverse reactions with other supplements or prescription medications.

Be suspicious of treatments and therapies not covered by insurance – Clinics that offer “cutting edge treatment” and don’t take insurance should be approached with caution. The same can be said for supplements not sold by a physician’s office. There could be a very good reason that mainstream medicine has not embraced these products and procedures.

Ask yourself if you really need a pricey therapy or program – Some of the supplements and programs out there may not harm you, but are they really helping you either? It’s a good idea to do a little extra research and find out if there is any evidence to back up the results these programs are advertising.

To read the editorial in its entirety, click here.