Chuck came to see me with a complaint of memory loss and becoming easily confused. Chuck was 79 and lived alone so had plenty of reason to be alarmed. We tested Chuck and found him to have early Alzheimer's disease (AD). Rather than advising him to get his affairs in order and schedule some custodial care, we invited Chuck to participate in our 6 Step Program for the treatment of Alzheimer's. Chuck readily agreed to do so and 6 months later had improved in 5 of 6 cognitive categories that typically deteriorate in Alzheimer's. Everyone thinks that a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is a death sentence. Actually, if you're willing to do something about it, it may be just a wake-up call. Your brain is telling you that you've been living in a manner that doesn't provide it the environment it prefers. It's asking you to change that environment. If you do, chances are that you can reverse your disease. At least, Dr. Nathan Daley and I strongly believe that to be true and we're hell bent to prove it. Chuck is job one, with many more to follow.
Nathan Daley, M.D. and I, David Leonardi, M.D. have devoted the better part of the last 18 months to the research of Alzheimer's disease. We're not new at this. I've been practicing Preventive Medicine for 13 years and Dr. Daley completed his residency in Preventive Medicine at U.C. San Diego in 2010 along with an Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the
the same year. We've just written a book about our findings that will be published in December of this year (2011). Unlike dozens of other books on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease, it's not about how to deal with the inevitable decline. It's about how to TREAT the disease with the intent of reversing it. I say intent because we've not proven it (yet). But we intend to. If you're interested, here's how. U. of Arizona
You see, there is no proven cure yet for Alzheimer's because the drug companies for decades have been looking for the magic bullet - a single drug to pop once a day and solve the problem, much like Lipitor for preventing heart attacks. Well, hold on. Sorry, but Alzheimer's is not that simple. Heart attacks aren't simple either, but not nearly as complex as Alzheimer's. We humans are all about biochemistry. In fact, we're just a big biochemistry set in action. And if you examine the biochemistry of Alzheimer's, you'll see it has dozens of components. There are dozens of chemical reactions that lead up to the loss of brain cells. These reactions can be divided into 9 categories that we call the nine avenues. Seven of the avenues are destructive and need to be defended. The other two are like supply avenues and need to be replenished. A single drug couldn't possibly have the capacity to function correctly along all nine avenues. If it aids with one avenue, the disease will march ahead along the other eight. That's why the current medications for Alzheimer's, which merely squeeze more acetylcholine out of our brain cells only temporarily improve or stabilize the patient.
To actually improve the Alzheimer's brain, we have to function along all 9 avenues. This can only be done by a comprehensive approach - one that employs lifestyle change, specific nutritional supplements and even hormone replacement. Don't get discouraged. It's not that complicated. If Chuck can do it, so can you. It's all spelled out in our book, but I'll try to give you a sense of it here. The medical literature is replete with thousands of studies on Alzheimer's and the biochemistry behind it. And these brilliant scientists have not left out the studies on reversing that biochemistry. Clinical trials are being published on a daily basis.
The biochemical pathways by which Alzheimer's develops aren't perfectly understood but we know a LOT. Without driving you nuts with the science, let me just say that the biochemical culprits identified that kill brain cells are two proteins that accumulate in the Alzheimer's brain. These two toxic proteins are beta amyloid and tau. These proteins are actually normal ones and it is indeed normal to have these in your brain. We all do. The difference with Alzheimer's is that the beta amyloid protein accumulates in large quantities and the tau protein is disfigured. It all has to do with biochemical reactions occurring in the brain that have gone awry. And the reason they've gone awry is that the patient has first, a possible genetic predisposition to that abnormal biochemistry and second, has provided an environment for his or her brain cells to promote that biochemistry (lifestyle and other problems). But we believe that even those with a genetic predisposition to the disease can reverse it by altering that biochemistry.
In our research we identified over 30 elements that can reverse various aspects of that biochemistry. They all function along one or more of the 9 avenues I mentioned above. While each of these 30 elements has demonstrated benefits in studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals, not a single one by itself amounts to a cure (just like there is no single drug cure). But as we made discovery after impressive discovery in our literature search, we began to be overwhelmed by one central thought: If each of these elements has significant proven benefit along one or more biochemical avenues of Alzheimer's, why hasn't anyone assembled all of them into one comprehensive program? To provide you with an analogy, when Henry Ford was building his first automobile he needed a wheels, a motor, a drive train, a steering mechanism and brakes. Mr. Ford didn't look at any one of those single parts, such as the motor and say, "Well, I can see a benefit, but it won't get me across town, so forget it". Instead, he saw that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. So he assembled the parts and built himself a Ford. In the world of Alzheimer's research we're missing the forest for the trees. We have over 30 great trees but no one ever assembled them to create the forest. So, we did it. And Chuck is our first beneficiary.
These 30-some elements are in the categories of lifestyle change, nutritional supplements and bioidentical hormones. Now, two of these 3 categories can be a bit frightening to some people. Nutritional supplements aren't too scary but lifestyle change might concern some people who prefer to be sedentary and eat junk food. And bioidentical hormone replacement likely sounds too complicated or controversial to others. Yet, if a drug company handed you a pill that promised to make you better, or even slow your brain deterioration you'd likely swallow it before they could hand you the invoice.
As for lifestyle change, don't worry about a thing. We're just going to recommend the healthiest foods on the planet because they've been demonstrated in published trials to alter the Alzheimer's biochemistry. Then we'll suggest some physical activity that you can do within any limitations you may have. You need not become an Olympic athlete - just move to the best of your ability. Why? You got it - because that also alters the Alzheimer's biochemistry.
Now, in terms of bioidentical hormone replacement, consider this. As we age, hormone levels decline significantly. As we age and hormone levels decline, Alzheimer's risk rises. Coincidence? Actually, no. Study after study shows how certain hormones are critically important for optimal brain function and more importantly, have a direct inhibitory effect on Alzheimer's biochemistry. Indeed, testosterone, the quintessential male hormone, plays a key role in combating the formation of beta amyloid protein in the brain. The same is true for the female hormones estradiol and progesterone. What's important is how they're administered and in what specific form. All the details appear in our book. But a healthy diet, exercise and the appropriate hormone replacement are not likely to provide the best possible benefit for Alzheimer's. In fact, that is very unlikely. These encompass only about 9 or 10 of our 30-some elements. For optimal benefit, these should be combined with the nutritional supplements we recommend in our book.
If you've done the math, you may be coming to the realization that we recommend a large number of supplements. We do, only because each has very promising benefits according to clinical studies. Because taking the full complement of our recommendations would entail more pills than anyone would accept, we've combined the majority of these into a berry flavored powder for our patients that can be mixed with water or mixed into a smoothie, if preferred. So we've undertaken considerable effort to make this program as palatable as possible for people with Alzheimer's disease to follow. Before I finish this article, I'd like to just give you a flavor (no pun intended) about a couple of the elements we use and how they work. I'm hoping that will provide you with a sense of how powerful they can be when combined. That in turn, may provide you with hope and some level of confidence that your fate is far from sealed.
I'll start with testosterone. Here are just a few of the facts we present in our book. In studies of normal men, higher testosterone levels are associated with better cognitive function. Furthermore, in men with levels of testosterone at the lower end of he normal range, raising their levels to upper normal resulted in improvements in both verbal and spatial memory. Let's go one step further. Testosterone has also been studied in actual patients with Alzheimer's disease and has been shown to improve verbal and spatial memory in these Alzheimer's patients as well. This is just a taste of the benefits seen with testosterone for Alzheimer's. In our book we actually cite 47 published studies on testosterone, Alzheimer's disease and cognition. Testosterone, again, is only one of over 30 elements in our program.
Let's take a brief look at a nutritional supplement with which many people are familiar - curcumin. Curcumin is a component of the Indian spice, turmeric. It's been well shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer benefits. In terms of Alzheimer's disease, curcumin has been demonstrated to do all of the following:
1. Help to bind pro-oxidative metals such as copper and iron that create excessive oxidation in the brain and damage brain cells.
2. Reduce the formation of beta amyloid protein in the brain.3. Increase the clearance of beta amyloid protein from the brain, something Alzheimer's patients do very poorly.