Is Alzheimer’s Reversible?

Nearly all sources of medical and health information agree on the basics of Alzheimer’s:

  1. The ability of a person with Alzheimer’s to remember events, places and people is impaired.
  2. Alzheimer’s impairs cognitive functions: the ability to reason, make judgments and choices, and to communicate effectively.
  3. Alzheimer’s is a progressive form of dementia, meaning that the person with Alzheimer’s will suffer an ever-diminishing ability to function mentally, emotionally and – eventually – physically because physical activity is directed by one’s neurological equipment.
  4. The damage to one’s neurological equipment is caused by
  5. a) the formation of plaques in the brain when a protein called beta-amyloid clumps together and causes damage to, and eventually the death of, brain cells; and

    b) the tangling of a second brain protein called tau, which interferes with the ability of the brain cells to function.

  6. The presence of these plaques and tangles cannot be detected during the person’s lifetime
    using present technology, only by autopsy after death, making it difficult to positively
    diagnose Alzheimer’s.

Prescription Drugs

On the Horizon

There are no drugs available to cure Alzheimer’s by dissolving the plaques or untangling the tau protein. However, there are two not-as-yet-FDA-approved prescription drugs, solanezumab and aducanumab that are designed to prevent the clumping of beta-amyloid into plaques by fortifying the immune system. A third prescription drug, saracatinib, is designed to counteract Fyn, a protein in the brain that disrupts the connection between nerve cells (synapses) in the brain. Another possible future candidate is the oral psoriasis drug acitretin (Soriatane). It may help the body counter the buildup of the amyloid plaques. Another promising drug is riluzole (Rilutek), used to slow Lou Gehrig’s disease. Riluzole inhibits glutamate excess, which has been implicated in damaging and destroying brain cells related to cognition. More testing may result in the approval of these drugs for treating Alzheimer’s.

FDA-approved Drugs

Regarding other, FDA-approved, prescription drugs, Mayo Clinic’s website states, “It may be difficult to tell if Alzheimer’s drugs are helping, because their effect is usually modest.”1
Currently available prescription drugs include cholinesterase inhibitors, which boost the amount of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that is important for alertness, memory, thought and judgment. Cholinesterase inhibitors include:

  1. Donepezil (Aricept) is the only Alzheimer’s drug approved to treat all stages of the disease. It’s taken once a day as a pill. It’s usually well-tolerated, with side effects occurring in about 20 percent of people who take it.
  2. Galantamine (Razadyne) is approved to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. It’s taken as a pill or syrup. Some trials showed that galantamine slowed cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s. These benefits lasted up to 36 months.
  3. Rivastigmine (Exelon) is approved for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. It’s taken as a
    pill or syrup. It’s also available as a drug-releasing skin patch. The effectiveness of rivastigmine
    appears to be comparable to donepezil, although it may have more gastrointestinal side effects.
    One other FDA-approved drug is Memantine (Namenda), which is approved by the FDA for treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. It works by regulating the activity of glutamate, a messenger chemical widely involved in brain functions — including learning and memory.
  4. Reversing the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s: A Ray of Hope

    Although medical science is in agreement that there are no known cures to dissolve the plaques or untangle the tau protein, there are a number of things (protocols) that can be implemented to stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s.

    Although many sources of information about Alzheimer’s apply the adjective “irreversible” to Alzheimer’s. One very reputable source conducted a study, the results of which were published in 2014, after which he concluded:

    “My colleagues and I have identified 36 unique synapse-affecting factors (including beta-amyloid). Addressing only one or two of these factors—with a drug, for example—will not reverse Alzheimer’s. But addressing many factors—10, 20 or more—can effectively reverse the symptoms.”2 (emphasis added by this author)

    Dale Bredesen, MD, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Program at UCLA’s

    David Geffen School of Medicine, and founder of

    The Buck Institute for Research on Aging

    He and his associates conducted a study of 10 individuals ages 55 to 75, 6 of whom had left their employment or were struggling in their jobs because they were not able to function at the levels required by their jobs. All 6 were able to return to work or continue working with
    improved performance within 6 months after they began participation in the program.3

    Although the researchers selected from as many as 30 different protocols (behavioral changes and supplements) to apply to each of the persons participating in the study, only 10 to 15 were applied to each participant according to their individual evaluations. Notably, none of these protocols included prescription drugs.

    Success Story #1

    One of the most notable improvements in functioning was experienced by a woman who was 67 years old when she entered the program. She had a demanding job which required her to analyze data, prepare reports and travel extensively. Her ability to perform at her job had declined to the point that she was considering quitting her job. Furthermore, because her application for long-term care was denied, she told a friend she had decided to commit suicide. The friend intervened and convinced her to be evaluated for the program.

    Three months after adhering to most of the 14 protocols that were prescribed for her, her symptoms had disappeared and she had resumed working. Two and a half years later, at age 70, she continued working, free of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

    Here are the 14 protocols prescribed for her:

    1. she eliminated all simple carbohydrates, leading to a weight
      loss of 20 pounds;
    2. she eliminated gluten and processed food from her diet, and increased vegetables,
      fruits, and non-farmed fish;
    3. in order to reduce stress, she began yoga;
    4. as a second measure to reduce stress of, she began to meditate for 20 minutes twice
      per day;
    5. she took melatonin 0.5mg at bedtime to improve sleep;
    6. she increased her sleep from 4-5 hours per night to 7-8 hours per night;
    7. she took 1 mg of methylcobalamin (methylated vitamin B12) each day;
    8. she took 2000 IU of vitamin D3 each day;
    9. she took 2000 mg of fish oil each day;
    10. she took 200 mg of CoQ10 each day;
    11. she optimized her oral hygiene using an electric flosser and electric toothbrush;
    12. with the approval of her primary care provider, she reinstated HRT (hormone replacement
      therapy);
    13. she fasted for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, and for a minimum of
      three hours between dinner and bedtime; and
    14. she exercised for a minimum of 30 minutes, 4-6 days per week.

    Success Story #2

    Another participant, an entrepreneur and professional man who entered the program at age 69, had experienced progressive memory loss for 11 years. He had been diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s at age 59. After 6 months on the program, he, his wife, and his co-workers all noticed considerable improvement, and he was able to function normally at work.

    Here are the protocols assigned to him during the program:

    1. he fasted for a minimum of three hours between dinner and bedtime, and for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast;
    2. he eliminated simple carbohydrates and processed foods from his diet;
    3. he increased consumption of vegetables and fruits, ate only non-farmed fish, and limited meat to
      occasional grass-fed beef or organic chicken;
    4. he took probiotics;
    5. he took 1 tsp of coconut oil twice a day;
    6. he exercised strenuously, swimming 3-4 times per week, cycling twice per week, and running
      once per week;
    7. he took 0.5mg of melatonin at bedtime and tried to sleep as close to 8 hours per night as his
      schedule would allow;
    8. he took herbs: 250 mg of Bacopa monniera, 500 mg of Ashwagandha, and 400 mg of turmeric
      each day;
    9. he took 1mg of methylcobalamin, 0.8mg of methyltetrahydrofolate, and 50mg of
      pyridoxine-5-phosphate each day;
    10. he took 500 mg of citicoline twice a day;
    11. every day he took 1g of vitamin C, 5000 IU of vitamin D3, 400 IU of vitamin E,
      200 mg of CoQ10, 50 mg of Zinc picolinate, and 100 mg of a-lipoic acid;
    12. he took 320 mg of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and 180 mg of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
      per day.

    Dr. Bredesen’s Recommendations2

    Optimize diet. “Eliminate simple carbohydrates such as anything made from white flour and/or refined sugar. Don’t eat processed foods with either “trans fats” or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label. If you’re sensitive to gluten, minimize your consumption of gluten-containing foods, such as wheat and rye (there are simple tests to determine whether you are indeed gluten-sensitive). Emphasize fruits and vegetables. Eat nonfarmed fish for neuron-protecting omega-3 fatty acids.”

    Have a nightly “fast.” “Don’t eat three hours before bedtime. Ideally, 12 hours should pass between the last time you eat at night and when you eat breakfast. Example: Dinner ending at 8:00 pm and breakfast starting at 8:00 am.”

    Optimize sleep. “Sleep seven to eight hours every night.”

    Exercise regularly. “I recommend 30 to 60 minutes per day, four to six days per week. Combining aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) with weight-training is ideal.”

    Stimulate your brain. “Brain-¬training exercises and games stimulate and ¬improve your ability to remember, pay attention, process information quickly and creatively navigate daily life.”

    Footnotes:

    1. Alzheimer’s: Drugs help manage symptoms, article published by the Mayo Clinic on its website and updated July 15, 2017: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20048103
    2. Alzheimer’s Symptoms Reversed, interview by Bottom Line. Inc. published online January 15, 2015.
      Full article at http://bottomlineinc.com/health/alzheimers/alzheimers-symptoms-reversed

    3. Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program, article by Dale E. Bredesen, published in the peer-reviewed journal, AGING, September 2014, Vol 6 N 9. Link to article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4221920/

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