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Treatment and Prevention for Alzheimer’s Disease
A German physician by the name Alois Alzheimer first noted Alzheimer’s disease in 1907 in a relatively young woman who was suffering from memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. Even to this day, we do not fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but it is likely a mix of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Researchers discovered a gene called apo E in the 1990’s linked to Alzheimer’s, if you carry two copies of one of the types called E-4 you may have a greater than 90% chance of having Alzheimer’s by age 80. The best genetic fate you can have is to carry two copies of the E-2 version of the gene which is considered protective. Another hypothesis relates to the genetic mutation of your mitochondria or “batteries” of your neurons resulting in too little usable energy.
Yet another theory is that the brain cells die due to a lack of nerve growth factor or other hormones. Regardless of genetic predisposition, onset of Alzheimer’s is influenced by a variety of negative factors such as stress, head injury, heavy metals like aluminum, certain types of viruses, pesticides, herbicides, environmental and industrial pollutants. Some experts believe your own immune system is the culprit by producing anti-bodies that attack brain cells. Though, mostly considered a disease that effects people after 60, early-onset Alzheimer’s will show up 5% of the time beginning at age 30. Alzheimer’s is the third-most-common cause of death after cardiovascular disease and cancer in first world countries.
Although memory loss is the keynote symptom of Alzheimer’s the ability for abstract thought declines as well as judgement. Emotional and personality changes occur as the disease progresses. Three biological changes occur with Alzheimer’s; the first being neurofibrillary tangles where the tubes and filaments that provide structure, support and nutrients in nerve cells become bunched-up eventually killing the cell. The second, is the accumulation of clots of dead cellular material called senile plaques which also interfere with cellular function causing eventual death of the nerve cell. As the brain cells continue to die the brain shrinks and changes shape. The third change is the eventual decrease of up to 90% of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, the primary “memory” neurotransmitter.
Dharma Khalsa, MD is a leading researcher on Alzheimer’s and brain rejuvenation. He has spent many years researching and developing a program that is having remarkable success. He has found that utilizing the following basic elements can reverse, revitalize and regenerate age-associated memory loss:
He recommends a low-fat, nutrient dense balanced diet, making sure to avoid low-blood sugar, and to reduce caloric intake.
It has been proven that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol damages brain cells.
Exercise increases the removal of waste and replenishes brain cells with oxygen and nutrition.
Restore Acetylcholine by supplementing with phosphatidyl choline found in lecithin about 10,000-12,000 mg per day. Chlorophyll based “green drinks such as blue-green algae, wheatgrass, barley grass, spirullina, chlorella, will supply 2,000mg lecithin, as well as essential amino acids, peptides and micronutrients. To potentiate acetylcholine production take 1,000mg vitamin C three times daily, 100mg B5, and a good multi-vitamin.
This includes: meditation, breathing practices, brain exercises like solving “brain teasers”, crossword puzzles and reading.
Drug Therapy When Needed
Prescription drugs used for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s help by improving the ability of impaired nerve endings to transmit messages from one nerve cell to another. Some are used for moderate to severe symptoms and work by blocking the neurotransmitter glutamate, which leaks out of nerve cell in advanced Alzheimer’s, from being reabsorbed into nerve cells and damaging them.
On the Horizon
The University of Ulster in Ireland, is researching a hormone called GLP-1 and drugs that mimic it. In their preclinical studies of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, GLP-1 has shown “impressive neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects” resulting in reduced amyloid plaques and memory loss.
Patricia Kane, PhD, Director of the NeuroLipid Research Foundation has been researching and developing a protocol utilizing intravenous phosphatidyl choline, reduced glutathione and an oral/nutritional program. Kane has claimed that this protocol "successfully reverses" ALS and has improved symptoms connected with other neurological problems, such as Alzheimer's disease.
In my clinical practice, I have utilized many of the therapies discussed in this article for my clients with documentable success based upon the improved scores of a Standardized Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale performed by their physician. I believe our brains, given the chance have remarkable abilities to heal! As long as we identify and remove any blockages causing the disease and then make sure we replenish and repair any damage that has occurred through healthy living choices.3
Susan Janssens, BSc, ND has been a licensed naturopathic doctor for over 10 years, and is a leader in her field in Calgary, specializing in chronic disease, mood disorders and women’s health. For more information please go to www.IHConline.ca.