The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Bright light, melatonin, and dementia

    Researchers from the Netherlands set about to determine whether the progressive changes in symptoms seen in dementia might be affected by the 2 major synchronizers of the circadian timing system: bright light and melatonin.

    First, the details.

    • 189 elderly residents of 12 group care facilities in the Netherlands participated in the study.
    • They were randomly assigned to daily treatment with whole-day bright (1000 lux) or dim (300 lux) light and to evening melatonin (2.5 mg) or placebo for an average of 15 months.
    • 90% were female and 87% had dementia.
    • Neither the patents nor the researchers knew their treatment (double-blind).

    And, the results.

    • Light reduced cognitive deterioration (reasoning), depressive symptoms, and the increase in functional limitations.
    • Melatonin shortened sleep onset and increased sleep duration.
    • Melatonin had a negative effect on positive and negative affect.
    • Melatonin also increased withdrawn behavior, although this was not seen if given in combination with light.
    • Combined treatment also reduced aggressive behavior, increased sleep efficiency, and improved nocturnal restlessness.

    The bottom line?
    Goodness.

    The authors concluded, “Light has a modest benefit in improving some cognitive and noncognitive symptoms of dementia. To counteract the adverse effect of melatonin on mood, it is recommended only in combination with light.”

    6/11/08 21:54 JR

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