As an alternative healthcare practitioner, I look at medical mishaps with disbelief and a shaking of the head – but a study from the Alzheimer's Research Trust got me a little more angry!

In my book the Alzheimer's Alternative I talk about the various medications that can be used to treat Alzheimer's and I mention some of their common side-effects and this is another one that you should know about.

Antipsychotic drugs are often used to calm the various agitations, outbursts and aggressive behaviour in the mentally confused but unfortunately they are also being used in people with dementia with serious or fatal side-effects.

But, a new research study into the effects of antipsychotic drugs commonly prescribed to Alzheimer's patients concludes that the medication nearly doubles risk of death over three years. The study led by Prof Clive Ballard's King's College London team was published in Lancet Neurology on 9 January.

The study involved 165 Alzheimer's patients in UK care homes who were being prescribed antipsychotics. 83 continued treatment and the remaining 82 had it withdrawn and were instead given oral placebos. Findings showed a significant increase in risk of death for patients who continued taking the antipsychotic medication and the risks increased dramatically the longer the drugs were taken. The study noted that the 2 year survival rates for antipsychotic-treated patients fell to 46% versus 71% for the placebo group and at 3 years it was 30% versus 59%.

Whilst there is evidence of modest short-term benefits of antipsychotic treatment for the serious behavioural symptoms of Alzheimer's these improvements tend to stop after approximately 3-4 months and other forms of therapy should be investigated.

Now, I do realise that medication plays a role in the treatment of dementia and can help to stop aggressive or anti-social behaviour but there are other routes that are available.

Trying to get as much interaction as possible with the sufferer can make tremendous improvements as can just offering a little bit of TLC wherever possible. Other things that I have found that helps aid relaxation and decrease agitation are: relaxation CDs or soothing music and the herbs sage (either added to food during cooking or as a tincture about 20 drops in water) and lemon balm (1000mg a day) – and those two work very well together.

For those who really want to make dramatic strides in safeguarding their mental faculties watch out for my future articles where I will go into greater depth on the above whilst also giving you new ideas to think about. You can also learn much more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in my new book, The Alzheimer’s Alternative available from

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Steffan H. Abel D.C. has been involved in Chiropractic and healthcare research for over 20 years. He has run his own successful practice in the north of England for the last 19 years. During which time he has treated over 10,000 patients and given over 100,000 treatments. He has lectured and taught extensively in both Europe and America to students, chiropractors and medical doctors.

He has studied Hypnotherapy, N.L.P. and qualified as a Life Coach. He has also studied various Chiropractic-based treatments (gaining a M.Sc. in post graduate Clinical Chiropractic in 2003) as well as energy therapies such as Seichem and Reiki. In 2001 he became a Fellow of the College of Chiropractors and a Fellow of the Association of Osteomyology and in 2007 became a Fellow of the European Academy of Chiropractic.

In his spare time he spends between 15 and 25 hours per week researching all areas of “alternative” and allopathic healthcare in order to bring the best advice to his patients through his practice and writing. When not working he is to be found enjoying life with Sue, his partner, – whom he loves tremendously!

Additional Resources covering Alzheimers can be found at:

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Steffan Abel, the Official Guide to Alzheimers