Delaying Alzheimer’s

Recent training at the Buck Institute in San Francisco gave me some major insights into the treatment of Alzheimer’s. The exciting news is that the team at MPI Cognition are making real inroads in developing treatment options for Alzheimer’s and have documented cases where symptoms have not just been halted but reversed. For a full description have a look at this article recently published in Ageing .

The initial protocol for the program involved identifying the type of triggers for the onset of Alzheimer’s. There are some factors which do trigger early onset –  traumatic brain injury is a known risk factor as is early withdrawal of hormones which often happen’s with a full hysterectomy. The five major types were summarised below however many people will present with more than one of these triggers meaning that the case is more complicated to treat.

  1. Glycotoxicity – relating to blood sugar imbalances or diabetes type 2. The brain is the biggest user of glucose in the body relative to size accounting for about 30% of our use. Systemically if we are having issues with glucose metabolism, such as commonly found in hypoglycemia and metabolic syndrome, then our bodies become increasingly resistant to insulin which is essential for the uptake of glucose. A 2011 study in Neurology showed an increased risk of dementia in people over 60 with elevated blood glucose (1).
  2. Hormonal – low oestrogen or testosterone. A significant contributor to early onset dementia is having a full hysterectomy at an early age. A long term Danish study showed an increased risk of an earlier onset of dementia and this was further increased if the patient also had an oopherectomy. (2) The risks are believed to relate to a premature drop in oestrogen and its metabolites which assist in formation of memory in the brain.Snapshot
  3. Infection/Heavy Metal Toxicity – history of ongoing infection such as Lyme or mould toxicity but also associated with periodontal disease, such as gingivitis. The Indian journal of Pyschiatry’s 2006 article on “Reversible Dementia’s” highlight’s the reversible causes at between 0-23% and includes on its list a range of heavy metal toxicities as well as infections such as spirochetes which are seen in Lyme and advanced syphilis.
  4. Vascular – associated with cardiovascular risks as well. The study mentioned above in Neurology highlighted the comorbidity associated with Diabetes.
  5. Traumatic Brain Injury – this could be related to repeated concussion, car accidents or other injury but also other assaults to the brain such as heavy anesthesia use. Boxers and Football players in particular have an increased risk associated with repeated concussion.

The protocol is relatively comprehensive and looks at a range of different areas to try and assist in returning function. The cases described in the journals have utilised not only a mildly ketogenic diet with minimal grains but also regular exercise, bio-identical hormones, supplements and brain training such as that found in the program Brain HQ .

The dietary interventions are discussed in an earlier blog, A new model for treating Alzheimer’s , however when writing that I had not appreciated the value in using regular brain training in conjunction with the program. The program Brain HQ was presented by the founders at the seminar and there are good quality studies confirming the value of its use in reducing the incidence of dementia and delaying its onset. Interestingly it seemed to be the exercises that improved processing speed which really made a difference. The ten year study is summarised in more depth in this article.

The role of exercise is also worth exploring in further depth and typically relates to its role in improving insulin sensitivity and blood flow to the brain. Regular physical exercise also helps maintain active brain tissue in particular in the hippocampus which is the seat of memory.  A 2016 study showed a reduced incidence of dementia in over 65’s who exercised at least three times a week (3).

Christine Pope is a practicing nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental health at St Ives. If you are interested in working with her to reduce your risk then please contact her clinic on 8084 0081 to make an appointment.

 

(1) Ohara T et al, Glucose Tolerance staus and risk of dementia in the community – The Hisayama study. accessed at http://67.202.219.20/upload/2011/9/20/Neurology-2011-Ohara-1126-34.pdf

(2) Phung T et al, Hysterectomy, Oopherectomy and Risk of Dementia – An Historical Nationwide study. accessed at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lars_Kessing/publication/45508676_Hysterectomy_Oophorectomy_and_Risk_of_Dementia_A_Nationwide_Historical_Cohort_Study/links/5798a8f508aeb0ffcd08b189.pdf

(3) http://annals.org/aim/article/719427/exercise-associated-reduced-risk-incident-dementia-among-persons-65-years

A new model for treating Alzheimer’s

Brain Function with gears and cogs.I spent my June long weekend at a naturopathic conference in Brisbane where the topic was Neurology and Psychiatry. One of the surprise standouts from the weekend was a US researcher who presented 3 reversed cases of Alzheimer’s , something which really isn’t supposed to be possible. Even more surprising was his holistic focus on the treatment and his view that the solution was in treating a wide range of factors rather than a simple “pill for an ill” model.

The current research in this area has identified amyloid plaque as the source of the damage to the brain and the focus is finding a drug which will break this down. Unfortunately this approach ignores the underlying reason for the formation of the plaque which is the presence of inflammation in the body. Dr Dale Bredesen and his team looked at what was driving the inflammation and have developed an approach to treating Alzheimer’s looking at those drivers.

What emerged was a very holistic treatment protocol looking at key drivers such as diet and lifestyle, hormonal factors, such as insulin resistance as well as oestrogen and testosterone levels as well as other risk factors such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. They also saw a need to look at other possible causes of inflammation such as heavy metal toxicity. For more detail on his training and studies have a look at the MPI Cognition site.

Health food ingredients in white porcelain bowls over papyrus baCurrently around 342,000 Australians are living with dementia and up to 70% of those suffer from Alzheimer’s and with an ageing population this is expected to increase signficantly. In terms of preventative care its clear from these presentations that its critical to ensure that we start reducing our risk by following these guidelines;

  1. Eat a whole food, plant based diet with small amounts of animal protein and reasonable amounts of good quality plant based fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil  and avocado.
  2. Exercise at reasonable intensity on a regular basis, at least three to five times a week.
  3. Manage stress effectively.
  4. Ensure good blood sugar regulation.
  5. Monitor hormone levels as “atrophic withdrawal” or the sudden decline in hormones post hysterectomy for example are associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s for example.
  6. Identify and minimise toxicity, particularly heavy metals but also consider the impact of long term low grade infections.
  7. Stay at a healthy weight range.

Fortunately as a natural medicine practitioner there are a number of areas where we can work with clients to reduce their risk factors. However I am also planning a trip to the States to attend the MPI Cognition 4 day training program for practitioners. Stay posted for further updates!!

Christine Pope is a practicing homeopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives and is available for appointments on 8084 0081.