Light Therapy Found To Slow Dementia
The cognitive decline caused by dementia can be slowed by as simple a measure as
brighter daytime lighting, according to a study conducted by researchers from
the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and published in the Journal of the
American Medical Association.
One of the most difficult symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of
dementia for caregivers to cope with is the disruption of the patient's
circadian rhythms - the day/night cycle that tells them when to sleep and when
to wake. Because the hormone melatonin is known to play a role in regulating
circadian rhythms, as is exposure to bright daytime light, researchers designed
an experiment to see if these factors could influence the progression of
The study was conducted on 189 residents of several different care homes. The
majority of the patients had been diagnosed with dementia. The researchers
installed bright lighting in six of the care homes, and turned it on every day
between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. At both these homes and those without the extra
lighting, some of the patients were given melatonin and some were not.
Compared with patients that had received neither melatonin nor extra light, the
patients treated with melatonin alone showed better sleep patterns, but at the
cost of a worse mood and increased social withdrawal. Patients receiving both
melatonin and daytime light, however, had better sleep patterns without any
negative side effects. Patients treated with light alone experienced a 19
percent drop in depressive symptoms and a 5 percent lower rate of cognitive
"Although 5 percent may not sound like a huge amount, it compares well with
treatments such as Aricept designed to slow the progression of the illness,"
said Michael Hastings of the Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular
Biology in Cambridge, who was not involved in the study. "Over the course of
Alzheimer's, it could represent six months, and you have to remember that the
light therapy is completely non-invasive, and melatonin is a very gentle drug."
from NaturalNews Dementia Slowed by Light Therapy 11/08 by David Gutierrez