Herbal cures for dementia possible: study
A study that links certain trace elements found on hair to dementia has also shown that the disease could be treated by traditional Thai herbal medicines."I think Thai researchers should be able to create herbal medicines for dementia patients within three to five years based on the findings of this study," Dr Wanwisa Pattanasiriwisawa, a researcher from the Synchrotron Light Research Institute, said yesterday.
According to the research, dementia patients had higher amounts of calcium, chlorine and phosphorus in their hair than normal. The research covered 30 subjects, half of whom were suffering from Alzheimer's, Parkin-son's or other forms of dementia. All patients were above the age of 60.
Wanwisa said tests had been conducted using the particle accelerator synchrotron, which provides very accurate results. "The study took more than a year to complete," she said.
The research team, which was backed by the Synchrotron Light Research Institute, also included Asst Prof Jaruwan Siritapetawee from the Suranaree University of Technology and Dr Unchalee Sirithepthawee from Nakhon Ratchasima Rajanagrindra Psychiatric Hospital.
Wanwisa said the findings were significant because they suggested that the amount of calcium, chlorine and phosphorus in a human's hair could be an indicator of dementia. The findings have been published in the latest edition of the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation.
She added that the latest findings corresponded with other studies linking the presence of high amounts of calcium to brain problems.
Jaruwan said there were about 800,000 dementia patients in Thailand, most over 60 years of age. "The cause of dementia varies from person to person, though stress, heredity and chemical exposure are among the most common," she said.
Wanwisa said some researchers had started exploring herbs based on the findings of the study. "This process will possibly take a lot of time and money, but I'm sure Thai herbal medication for dementia patients should be found within five years," she said.