What the FDA Needs You to Know About Alzheimer’s “Cures”

If a supplement sounds too good to be true, it probably is—the FDA is cracking down on the companies peddling false promises.

What the FDA Needs You to Know About Alzheimer's "Cures"perfectlab/Shutterstock

An estimated five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This leaves patients and their loved ones desperate to find a cure for this deadly disease that steadily robs memory. Unfortunately, some supplement companies prey on consumer’s hopes with false promises that a supplement can cure the condition—and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is starting crack down on these sales.

Responsible for protecting public health by checking the safety and efficacy of drugs and supplements, the FDA recently issued a statement regarding so-called Alzheimer’s “cures.” The organization sent 12 warning letters and five online advisory letters to companies in both the United States and abroad for illegally selling upwards of 58 products being marketed as aids in the fight against the disease.

“Alzheimer’s is a challenging disease that, unfortunately, has no cure,” says FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD. “Any products making unproven drug claims could mislead consumers to believe that such therapies exist and keep them from accessing therapies that are known to help support the symptoms of the disease, or worse as some fraudulent treatments can cause serious or even fatal injuries.” These are the things that no one ever tells you about Alzheimer’s disease.

For example, one company, Earth Turns, received a warning letter for its misleading labeling indicating that green tea can fight Alzheimer’s. The company also promotes a product called Cogni-Flex and its ingredient Huperzine A, claiming that it “works just as Alzheimer’s drugs work, but naturally and without side effects.” There is zero evidence for this claim, points out the FDA, and it’s dangerously misleading for patients and their caretakers. Learn about the early signs of Alzheimer’s every adult should know.

The FDA targeted other companies for hawking products like an Aromatherapy for Dementia Memory Kit, Dementia/Alzheimer’s Synergy Oils, and colostrum supplements. As with any potential treatment, you should consult with your doctor or a medical professional before you start. Approved treatments for Alzheimer’s include medications like cholinesterase inhibitors or Memantine to treat cognitive symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic. Additionally, a supportive and nurturing environment is necessary for a patient to feel safe. These are some things neurologists do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

There are lifestyle and dietary changes that may help with Alzheimer’s, but be sure to stay in close communication with a trusted healthcare professional who can help both the patient and their family navigate this difficult disease.

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