Alzheimer's is a debilitating disease for which there is still no definite cure. However, a recent study conducted by UCLA might provide a source of hope for sufferers and their families.
The program conducted on patients between the ages of 55 to 75, showed remarkable improvements in at least 90 percent of the participants. For a disease that is seen as a "hopeless diagnosis," this study may help to restore optimism in the wake of a devastating illness that has attacked nearly 5 million people in America. Statistics note that Alzheimer's disease is "the sixth leading cause of death in the United States," and has left a disturbing toll on a large number of recently diagnosed patients and their loved ones.
Dr. Dale Bredesen, the author of the study, and director at the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research (UCLA), is optimistic about the potential for improvement in Alzheimer's disease. Bredesen largely believes that based on his recent study, Alzheimer's has a number of factors that need to be addressed "as a group, rather than one at a time."
The author states that drug companies "tend to come up with a really good patch for one [factor]", and therefore do not look at correcting the issues as a whole, noting that "it's not a surprise [that their drugs] don't work." The study discovered that among a variety of factors, patient's physical examination results included "36 potential deficiencies, imbalances and sources of inflammation."
The patients in the study participated in a variety of tests that included brain scans and blood work, in addition to neuropsychological testing. The majority of patients, according to Bredesen, each had "between 10 and 24 problems that needed correcting." Referring to the disease as a "roof with 36 holes in it," Bredesen believes that every piece was a contributing factor in Alzheimer's symptoms. Bredesen's evidence has led him to refer to the current philosophy of "identifying single targets to treat a disease caused by many factors" as a "flawed" theory. Bredesen developed his program to systematically work on a multitude of issues, in order to improve cognition and degenerative symptoms.
The patients that participated in the study, who "were in various stages of dementia, say their symptoms were reversed" after participating in Bredesen's program. The program, conducted by Bredesen and his team, set out to correct the imbalances, deficiencies and causes of inflammation as a collective, rather than try to work on just one or two at a time. The program was intensive, and included "optimizing Vitamin D levels in the blood, using DHA supplements to bridge broken connections in the brain, optimizing gut health, and strategic fasting to normalize insulin levels."
During the course of the study, lasting a few months, the patients testified that their "condition had either improved or returned to normal." The overall effectiveness of the study was quite positive, and only one of the patients proceeded to decline over the course of the study, though she was in "the late-stages of Dementia." Thus, the study exemplified Bredesen's theory that by "addressing the many contributing factors of Alzheimer's" there is a greater possibility to "potentially reverse the disease's early progression."
One of Bredesen's patients who participated in the study, was a 69-year-old male who was "struggling with progressive memory loss for 11 years." He mentioned that his symptoms began at around 58 years old, as he was becoming more and more incapable of identifying people's faces that he would normally recognize. He went from being a "bright and unflappable medical professional" to a man who now couldn't efficiently perform simple mathematical additions.
His symptoms worsened as he recalled going to the gym, and realizing that he had forgotten the combination for his locker. When he was tested a year after that, it was discovered in his brain scan, that he had "damage consistent with Alzheimer's disease."
Before participating is Bredesen's study, the gentleman believed that he was heading for "inevitable decline" and "was considering giving up working." He assumed that he would have to give up his driver's license and would soon become a "burden" on his loved ones. The program required that he make specific changes that included "eliminating simple carbohydrates and processed foods from his diet; taking probiotics and coconut oil; rigorously exercising; and sleeping as close to eight hours as he could."
He also included "herbs and a raft of supplements to his diet," in addition to a number of other lifestyle changes for up to six months later. However, from the fourth week onward, he noticed that his "acuity with numbers and faces returned," and at 71 years old, he is still active in the work force. He has attested his improvements to Bredesen's study, remarking that he is now "in better shape [than he was] a few years ago."
A female patient named Gee who participated in the study, had suffered from memory problems before it was discovered that she had a gene that negatively affects her "brain's ability to heal itself." Gee was diagnosed with having "two copies of the APOE-4 allele," which would "dramatically increase her risk for developing Alzheimer's disease."
As soon as she became aware of this predisposition for Alzheimer's disease, she began fervently researching treatments that may slow the progression of her disease. She also consulted with Dr. David Perlmutter, a renowned neurologist, who assisted her in making many beneficial changes to her lifestyle. Dr. Perlmutter advised that she add "fish oil and other supplements to her daily regimen," as it was noted that "people who took the supplements performed better on memory tests and had bigger brains." She also made sure to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep nightly, began performing a rigorous exercise routine, and incorporated meditation two times each day. The theory was that incorporating these changes would help "improve blood flow to the brain and instigate neuron generation." The program advised by Dr. Perlmutter was also incredibly similar to Bredesen's treatment plan.
Gee was also told that the brain can be negatively impacted by hormonal imbalances in the body, and thus was encouraged to begin hormone replacement therapy. She also performed 'fasts' daily, by making sure to eat her last meal at least three hours before she goes to bed, ensuring a 12 hour gap between meals. Bredesen has noted that the benefits of fasting include initiating 'autophagy,' a process that helps eradicate a buildup of a harmful protein called amyloid-beta in the brain, found in Alzheimer's patients.
In addition to fasting, Gee eats a diet that includes more fermented foods, "raw, organic vegetables drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and wild-caught fish." This meal plan can be sometimes alternated with lean grass-fed meat. The idea is that health of the stomach and digestive system, is now being linked to a healthy, well-functioning brain. Gee no longer purchases food that is "packaged, boxed or canned." She has also removed sugar, starches, grains and processed foods from her diet, as these are linked to causing "inflammation in the brain."
As Gee followed the program strategically, she noticed a variety of positive changes as a result. She attested that her "mental acuity improved the more (elements of the program) [she] began doing." She believed that the program was truly improving her condition, and she did not feel starved or oppressed by the new lifestyle change. She believed that the program was in fact "simplifying her life" and removing the "processed and other inflammatory foods [was] freeing."
When Gee initially began the program, she was scoring brain training tests in the "30th percentile" while months later, she was remarkably "scoring above the 90th percentile." She believed that this "dramatic cognitive turnaround" was a result of the changes that she had made following the Dr. Perlmutter's protocol. Gee now offers support to other people suffering with degenerative brain issues, via an information website that advocates the program, apoe4.info. She refers to the lack of information that provided solutions for her illness in the past, as opposed to the "prevention protocol" which she feels is a source of hope for people who once believed that they would "die with [their] disease."
Bredesen's belief that the cause of early Alzheimer's symptoms is certainly related to a "patient's specific deficits and imbalances." This can be illustrated in a two-year study conducted in Finland, which consisted of a clinical trial on 1,200 people with Alzheimer's symptoms. These people began a variety of changes, such as implementing exercise, social activity, nutritional plans, brain training activities, and addressed "management of risk factors for heart problems."
In this study, which was showcased at an International Conference by the Alzheimer's Association, participants showed improvement in cognitive function and performance. Thus, James Hendrix, a representative of the Alzheimer's Association has noted that Bredesen's "focus on addressing multiple risk factors" is definitely a "sound element" of his research on such a complicated disease.
Bredesen has confirmed that he will continue to study "early-stage Alzheimer's patients" and implement his program's protocol. He hopes to discover the "ideal stage of cognitive decline" to study the length of time that improvements will occur, even in patients in the APOE-4 group like Gee. Bredesen believes that by addressing the causes of the illness, there is a greater possibility of creating a positive impact. He also has the belief that this protocol can be "implemented in asymptomatic people as a prevention strategy" in order to nip the illness in the bud before it goes into the early phases.
This he hopes, "might provide a better platform for future drug-based therapies" if they are able to "normalize" cognition in early stage Alzheimer's patients. While this study is still in early testing phases, according to Hendrix, "these ... results should be interpreted with a lot of caution" due to the minimal number of studied participants, and the "range of diagnoses, resulting in different interventions" of patients.
While Bredesen believes these studies are making headway in Alzheimer's treatment and prevention, he believes that these treatment options should be performed only in a "supervised research study." Studies would need to be conducted on a larger number of people, in order to establish whether or not the program is beneficial for the majority of cases.
Bredesen knows for sure that patients' symptoms need to be addressed as a whole and that one drug to fix one symptom at a time is sure to fail when so many other symptoms still exist. In terms of advice for people with early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, Bredesen advises that "it's a good idea to do what our moms told us to do," which includes getting enough sleep, keeping stress levels down, abstaining from junk food and getting adequate exercise.
Don Colbert, M.D. has been board certified in Family Practice for over 25 years and practices Anti aging and Integrative medicine. He is a New York Times Bestselling author of books such as The Bible Cure Series, What Would Jesus Eat, Deadly Emotions, What You Don't Know May Be Killing You, and many more with over 10 million books sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida where he has treated over 50,000 patients.
For the original article, visit drcolbert.com.
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