Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most devastating, feared diseases because it robs your mind and your memory and turns your family into caregivers for you. The disease is even more devastating to the family as they watch someone they love decline to the point that they no longer remember their loved ones who are caring for them. It is estimated that as many as 160 million people will have Alzheimer’s disease by 2050, equating to a cost of 1 trillion dollars to care for these patients.
Alzheimer’s disease has been untreatable and incurable despite medications generating millions of dollar for the pharmaceutical industry. The effectiveness of all available medications for Alzheimer’s disease has been disappointing. The drug companies continue to make new drugs but non-pharmaceutical treatment options has been completely ignored.
In October 2014, UCLA published a study in the journal Aging that showed 90% of patients had reversibility of Alzheimer’s disease without drugs but with lifestyle changes. It was the most promising treatment yet but it got little press or attention in the medical community. Although this was a small study (10 patients), the results were remarkable. Of the 10 patients, 9 had reversibility of their disease. Out of 6 patients who had to stop working due to their memory decline, all 6 were able to return to work with treatment. Results were seen in as little as 3-6 months.
The following is a summary of the treatment program:
- Eliminating all simple carbohydrates, gluten and processed food from her diet, and eating more vegetables, fruits and non-farmed fish
- Meditating twice a day and beginning yoga to reduce stress
- Sleeping seven to eight hours per night, up from four to five
- Taking melatonin, B-Complex with methylcobalamin and 5-MTHF, vitamin D3, fish oil and coenzyme Q10 each day
- Optimizing oral hygiene using an electric flosser and electric toothbrush
- Reinstating hormone replacement therapy, which had previously been discontinued
- Fasting for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, and for a minimum of three hours between dinner and bedtime
- Exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes, four to six days per week
The high cost and side effects of taking drugs that are largely ineffective does not make sense when the simple lifestyle changes described above are mostly free and without side effects. Which treatment would you choose?
I would highly recommend getting blood tests that can be used to assess your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and also to optimize treatment. These test include the following (the goal level is shown in parentheses): 25-OH Vitamin D3 levels (50-70), A1C (less than 5.5), fasting insulin (less than 7), vitamin B12 level (greater than 500), homocysteine (less than 7), and hsCRP (less than 1). Genetic blood tests for APO-E and MTHFR can also be helpful in evaluating risk.
If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or think you may have early signs of cognitive decline such as memory loss, I would recommend working with a Functional Medicine physician who is familiar with a more holistic and comprehensive approach to prevention and early treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. To find a Functional Medicine practitioner, go to the Institute for Functional Medicine website .