Study after Study
My last post heralded the news of a study that showed that “women who were both easily distressed and withdrawn had the highest risk” of developing Alzheimer’s disease. (Alzheimer’s and Dementia Weekly)
My extremely out-going extroverted non-ruffled mother developed Alzheimer’s nonetheless. Perhaps another study is in order. Perhaps they should study a different personality trait while I repeat to my mom for the nine-hundreth time that Yes, I did see the pretty scarf in her catalog. Yes, it is very Autumny.
(Please hurry those studies!)
Meanwhile, some hopeful news:
Researchers at UCLA say they’ve developed a program that shows for the first time memory loss being reversed.
I’m all ears.
Caregivers and family are well aware that the current drugs for Alzheimer’s, Aricept, Namenda, and Excelon to name a few, are not very effective. Or at best, only postpone the complete unraveling of memory for a short while.
And that is because these drugs attack the problem from only one angle. Dale Bredesen, the Augustus Rose Professor of Neurology and Director of the Easton Center at UCLA, a professor at the Buck Institute, and the author of the UCLA paper believes that Alzheimer’s, like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and HIV, would be better served if a combination of therapies were employed.
Bredesen believes Alzheimer’s is more like a leaking roof.
(As the wife of a roofing contractor, I can relate to the roof metaphor.)
“The existing Alzheimer’s drugs affect a single target, but Alzheimer’s disease is more complex. Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well—the drug may have worked, a single “hole” may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.” (Alzheimer’s Reading Room)
To simplify Bredesen’s therapeutic program so that even I can understand, I think what he is saying is that you need to tear off the roof, examine the underlying problems, decide the best course of action to resolve the issues, and replace or fix all the leaks before adding the new roof.
In other words, take some blood, examine the body, pinpoint what’s wrong or off-kilter, and choose a healing, nurturing comprehensive treatment plan that addresses each issue separately instead of just popping another pill.
In our roofing business, we often come across homeowners who, to fix a persistent leak, will just keep blobbing tar over the holes. Then maybe after fifteen or twenty tar blobs they decide it’s time to fix the roof. But, instead of tearing off the old rotten roof, they’ll just hammer a layer of shingles over the entire roof. Later, when they find streams of water rolling down their walls, they’ll even add another layers of shingles not understanding that the real problem is sunk beneath their two new layers of shingles. They never fixed the original problem to begin with so now they have multiple problems to deal with.
(Pssst: Don’t do this. If you live in the Chain O’ Lakes area in IL, call Sheridan Roofing)
In Bredesen’s small study, he attacked the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease by designing individualized plans to achieve metabolic enhancement.
Changes in diet
Optimization of sleep
Specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins
Multiple additional steps that affect brain chemistry
And he had some promising results.
Within six months, nine out of the ten participants showed enough improvement to return to work. Some of these changes are ordinary healthy choices: exercise, get enough sunlight, get enough sleep. Some added herbs to their diet like turmeric. Some began hormone replacement therapy. Most added CoQ10 and Vitamin B12. Most gave up carbs and gluten. All began stress-reducing activities.
The only one who showed a decline was the person who was labeled late-term Alzheimer’s.
Of course, this study needs to be duplicated on a larger scale and with all my heart I’d love to see that happen.
If it works, I foresee a new focus for holistic practitioners. A specialization in the aging Silent Generation and Boomer health. I know it’s called Gerontology, but I’m thinking beyond the conventional realm. Maybe someone will design a fleet of travelling Wellness Vans filled with fresh herbs, hormone creams, vitamins, personal exercise trainers. Maybe they’ll drop off weekly care packages of specialized Alzheimer’s preventatives, do monthly blood draws, tweak the patient’s program, roll out exercise mats for afternoon Pilates.
Maybe . . just maybe we can reverse the effects of this disease.
I’m going to go outside now and absorb some Vitamin D.
Thanks for taking notes with me today.