Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Alzheimer's News

To those new to this blog, please check out the first posts about B12 deficiency and hypothyroidism before accepting an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Both of these conditions are severely under-diagnosed and can lead to devastating dementia symptoms. My new website (at this URL) will be up soon and will be much easier to navigate.

Fish Oil Use Linked To Less Brain Shrinkage

June 30 2014 Alzheimer’s & Dementia Journal

A recent study in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia reports that in a group of 117 patients who volunteered for a brain study that featured 229 controls, 307 patients with mild cognitive impairment and 193 who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, that those who stayed on fish oil during the study showed less brain shrinkage and better cognition than those who did not take fish oil.

While average brain volumes of specific areas decreased over time in the group overall, those who took fish oil had less cognitive decline and less brain loss. The effect was most marked in those who did not carry the APOe4 gene that is a known Alzheimer's risk factor.

Study authors say that these findings "...highlight the need for future research on the effects of long-term fish oil supplement use on cognitive aging and dementia prevention in middle-aged and older adults."

A Lifetime of Learning Can Stave Off Dementia

Tues, June 24, 2014 - Mayo Clinic, JAMA Neurology

We’ve seen the studies that show that people with a college education are less likely to acquire dementia, but if we weren’t fortunate enough to be blessed with the gift of formal education, it’s good to know that a life spent statisfying our general curiosity is protective as well.

A new study confirms that people who spend their free time reading, researching, playing music or playing stimulating games also have gained some protection from the devestating brain disorder that we define as dementia. 

"In terms of preventing cognitive [mental] impairment, education and occupation are important, but so is intellectually stimulating activity during mid- to late life," said said lead study author Prashanthi Vemuri. Vemuri is an assistant professor of radiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn..

"This is very encouraging news, because even if you don't have a lot of education, or get exposure to a lot of intellectual stimulation during non-leisure activity, intellectual leisure activity later in life can really help," she said.

According to a study in the June 23 online issue of JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) Neurology, creative activitiies such as making crafts and playing musical instruments are also beneficial, as are joining in on group activities and doing computer work.

It's great to see that it's never too late to give up on exercising your brain!

Lyme Disease: Often Misdiagnosed As Alzheimer's Disease

May is Lyme disease awareness month and it’s worth mentioning because of the memory and cognitive issues it can cause.

It also presents with muscle and joint pain as well as severe fatigue and malaise. Contrary to popular belief, it does not always present with the characteristic “bull’seye rash.”

Please educate yourself on the proper testing for this disease; many cases are missed by poor clinical protocol.

For more about this topic, please read here

New, Less Common Form of Alzheimer’s Often Goes Undetected, Is Improperly Treated

 May 3, 2014 -  Canada Journal News of the World

Hippocampus sparing Alzheimer’s disease is a variant that affects as many as 11% of Alzheimer’s patients, usually occurring in male patients. The disease starts earlier in life, and causes bizarre symptoms including the feeling that your limbs don’t belong to you and are out of your control. Frequent profane outbursts, visual disturbances originating in the brain and the feeling that one’s actions are being controlled by alien forces are common to this disorder. These are the findings reported in an oral presentation at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA).

The general health of patients with this disorder also fail at a much faster rate.

Lead study author Mellissa Murray, Ph.D is an assistant professor of neuroscience at the Mayo Clinic in Florida says, “Many of these patients, however, have memories that are near normal, so clinicians often misdiagnose them with a variety of conditions that do not match the underlying neuropathology,”
“What is tragic is that these patients are commonly misdiagnosed and we have new evidence that suggests drugs now on the market for AD could work best in these hippocampal sparing patients — possibly better than they work in the common form of the disease,” Dr. Murray says.

“Our studies support the notion that dementia related to AD does not necessarily equate to a loss of memory, and points to the need for more research in amyloid and tau imaging biomarkers to help clinicians accurately diagnose AD — regardless of subtype,” Dr. Murray says.

To read more about this story, go HERE.

Pacemaker-like Brain Implant For Alzheimer's Disease Shows Promise

January 22, 2013 Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The five-hour brain surgery last October at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is the first since the FDA approved the implant for human testing. Kathy Sanford is the first Alzheimer’s patient in the United States to
get the implant.
The implant is the first used for ongoing deep brain stimulation that has already been shown to fe effective in retrieving memories  of in applications of brain injury and Parkinson's disease. 
See more about this story HERE  and HERE.

New Blood Test Will Be First Accurate Predictor of Alzheimer’s Disease

March 10, 2014 - L.A. Times

The new test, developed by University of Rochester, Georgetown University and UC Irvine tests for 10 different blood lipids (fats). It is the first test to accurately predict the development of Alzheimer’s disease over the patients next two to three years.  Although no pharmaceuticals are known to significantly affect disease progression or outcome, it’s hoped that early detection will lead to new treatment options.

The breakdown of neural cell membranes results in the presence of these 10 blood lipids that become more prevalent as the disease progresses.

The test will be available once it’s better understood how sensitive the test is and how well it works in a larger and more diversified population. 

For more information, read the L.A. Times article on the subject here.

Banned Pesticide DDT Linked to Increased Alzheimer’s Risk.

Researchers have found an interesting relationship between the pesticide DDT and Alzheimer's disease. When a human being is exposed to DDT it breaks down in the body and leaves behind a residue known as DDE.  Researchers at Rutger’s University's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School have recently published a study that shows that DDE is four times as high in the blood of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease patients when compared to samples from people without Alzheimer’s.

Researchers may hesitate to say that it’s more than a correlation because it isn’t clear yet whether DDT helps to cause the disease or whether a potential mechanism related to Alzheimer’s has some effect on the body’s ability to rid itself of DDE.

Although the levels of DDT and DDE have decreased in the United States since the ban over three decades ago, the toxin was found in 75-80 percent of blood samples collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a national survey on health and nutrition.  

Because DDT can take decades to break down in the environment, people may still be getting exposure by eating seafood that are exposed to it via run-off from farms and lawns. Since DDT isn’t banned in many countries that export food to the United states, people are still being exposed to the pesticide by consuming imported fruits, vegetables and grains.

People who have the APOe4 gene in conjunction with high DDE levels have a more severe form of cognitive dysfunction than people with either risk factor alone.

“I think these results demonstrate that more attention should be focused on potential environmental contributors and their interaction with genetic susceptibility,” says Jason R. Richardson, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School . Richardson is a member of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI). ”Our data may help identify those that are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and could potentially lead to earlier diagnosis and an improved outcome.”

Read more about these findings here.

Potential Neuro-Inflammatory Pathway Discovered That Helps to Confirm Link Between High Blood Sugar and Alzheimer’s Disease

Jerusalem, Israel - Hebrew University 1-31-2014

Due to recent research that indicates that high blood sugar can contribute to dementia, the term “type 3 diabetes” has become a popular phrase among people interested in the disorder. Now, researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered the potential neuro-inflammatory pathway that may help understand the mechanism.

This discovery may lead to the preventative strategy of a recommendation of cutting carbs to keep blood stable or the use of a drug that keeps blood sugar at acceptable levels for brain health.

Research on diabetic rats
showed that they displayed high activity of MAPK kinases. These enzymes are involved in cellular responses that may lead to the kind of inflammation that can cause brain cell death. 

When diabetic rates were given a daily injection for a month of a drug called rosiglitazone that lowers blood sugar levels, they showed a decrease in MAPK enzyme activity as well as fewer inflammatory processes in the brain. The authors believe that this represents the first firm evidence of a causal effect between high blood sugar and the onset of this particular inflammatory pathway. 

Professor Daphne Atlas has demonstrated that administering special molecules to the diabetic rats in her study significantly lowered their inflammatory response. 

Said Dr. Atlas, “This study paves the way for preventive treatment of damages caused by high sugar levels, and for reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in diabetics or people with elevated blood sugar levels. Following the successful animal testing of the molecule we developed, we hope to explore its potential benefit for treating cognitive and memory impairments caused by diabetes on humans.”

The study appeared at the journal Redox Biology, an official Journal of the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine and the Society for Free Radical Research-Europe.

Although only one out of ten studies on animals ever becomes applicable to humans, this is another of several recent studies that highlight the understanding that keeping blood sugar at a stable rate through diet may be a key factor in preventing dementia. 

Read more about Dr. Atlas’ research here

Medical professionals are reticent to recommend a low-carb, high protein diet until more information is available, but research done on this type of diet confirms it's ability to keep blood sugar stable. It's known to be a safe lifestyle alternative provided plenty of high-nutrient foods, such as fresh and cooked lower-starch vegetables are used to replace highly processed, sweet and starchy foods. 

To further explore this topic, I recommend you get the current best-selling book by Dr. David Perlmutter called "Grain Brain." 

Chris Kresser discusses his opinions on Dr. Perlmutter’s "Grain Brain" bookin his blog here.

Brain Training Provides Long-Lasting Gains On Cognitive Ability In Elderly Patients

Jan 13, 2014 - Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

2800 participants in the largest study ever done on cognitive training were given 10 to 12 sessions of brain training that lasted from 60 to 75 minutes each. The average age of people who started the study was 74 years of age.  

Improvement was shown to be apparent ten year later.

A version of the speed training program developed for this trial is now available to consumers through a brain fitness company called Posit Science. Researchers are working on making other training programs available as well.

Read more HERE.

Vitamin D Can Reduce Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

Dec. 30, 2013 JAMA

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that 2,000 I.U. of vitamin E may reduce the amount of care needed by Alzheimer's patients in early or moderate stages of the disease.

It's important to note that that amount is far greater than what is recommended for the average person which is 22.4 I.U. daily. As a fat soluble vitamin, it can build up in the body to toxic levels so is not advised as a preventative measure in healthy people.

Read more about this study here. 

New Alzheimer Drug Reduces Plaques in Brain by As Much As 90%

Dec. 27, 2013 -  Imperial College, U.K.

The drug, known as a BACE inhibitor (Beta Amyloid precursor protein site-Cleaving Enzyme inhibitor), is an enzyme that removes the amyloid plagues common to the brains of Alzheimer's patients. 

Both healthy volunteers and Alzheimer’s patients took the drug without any serious side effects. 21 countries will participate in new trials that will involve more than 3,000 patients. 

Although similar drugs have failed to improve symptoms when plaque reduction was successful, this new drug, (called MK-8931 for now)  must show that the anti-amyloid effect makes a difference in people who are beginning to have memory problems. Preliminary data is promising, researchers say.

Read more here.

Landmark Study Proves That 5 Lifestyle Changes Markedly Reduce Dementia Rate

Cardiff University - Dec. 9, 2013

A 35-year study of 2235 men between the ages of 25 and 49 shows conclusively that healthy lifestyle choices can make a large reduction in an individual’s risk of developing dementia.

The five lifestyle factors are:

1.) Getting regular exercise
2.) Eating healthy foods
3.) Low body weight
4.) Not smoking
5.) Low alcohol intake

Professor Peter Elwood, who led the study, said, “If the men had been urged to adopt just one additional healthy behaviour at the start of the study 35 years ago, and if only half of them complied, then during the ensuing 35 years there would have been a 13% reduction in dementia, a 12% drop in diabetes, 6% less vascular disease and a 5% reduction in deaths.”

This is the most viable argument yet made that many instances of dementia are completely preventable.

Grain Brain Book Promises an End to Dementia, Parkinson's and Other Brain Disorders Through Diet

Dec. 1, 2013

I've just received my copy of Dr. David Perlmutter's book "Grain Brain" last week and have inhaled it. I feel that Dr. Perlmutter makes some valid points about how the enormous load of carbohydrates in the modern diet contribute to problems in cognitive function. If you've read my blog on coconut oil, you know that researchers have found a striking link between diabetes and dementia that is impossible to ignore.

Americans typically eat around 300 grams of carbohydrates per day. Perlmutter contends that cutting down to 30-40 grams of carbs a day (then increasing to 60 grams once the body learn to use ketones as fuel) will reverse insulin resistance of the brain as well as reduce or end migrianes, anxiety, ADHD and other problems.

This means, no corn, no potatoes, no grains like rice, wheat, etc., no root veggies like sweet potatoes, turnips, tapioca starch, few carrots, very little fruit and a lot more fat in the diet from meats, butter and certain oils.

If this seems like an impossible feat, be aware that the craving for carbs doesn't last forever; most people find they feel much more able to handle the transition to a low carb diet after just a few weeks. Given this is one of the few promising treatments available that address cognitive decline, I'm willing to try it.

I've noticed that Perlmutter's dietary recommendations coincide quite nicely with the paleo diet that I've been on for the past 20 months. I don't think a being a little more restrictive is going to be difficult, in my case. Given that I've seen three relatives die from dementia in the past few years, I'm highly motivated to try. I will say that the paleo diet has reduced my migraines, irritability, insomnia and anxiety signficantly.

Several Studies Show Decline in Dementia

November 27, 2013 -  U.S. News and World Report, NEJM

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine details conclusions of several studies that show a decline in dementia in the elderly, showing that, for some, dementia is occurring at a time later in life.

A study in England showed a 24% decline in dementia over a 20-year period. 

It is yet unclear which factors are most responsible for the reduction in cognitive decline

Blood Pressure Medications Found to Reduce Alzheimer's Risk Dramatically

November 27, 2013 - Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

A recent article published in the journal Neurology has found that people over the age of 75 who have normal brain function and use diuretics, angiotensin-1receptor blockers (ARBs) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors show at least a 50 percent reduction in risk for Alzheimer dementia. Diuretics were also shown to halve the risk in those with mild cognitive impairment.

Beta blockers and channel blockers failed to show any reduction in risk.

Says study author Sevil Yasar, M.D., Ph. D., assistant professor of medicine in the Dept. of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine: "Identifying new pharmacological treatments to prevent or delay the onset of AD dementia is critical given the dearth of effective interventions to date. Our study was able to replicate previous findings, however, we were also able to show that the beneficial effect of these blood pressure medications are maybe in addition to blood pressure control, and could help clinicians in selecting an antihypertensive medication based not only on blood pressure control, but also on additional benefits."

Nothing was mentioned about whether people without high blood pressure will be allowed access to this medication in the future. 

Early Studies Show Aspirin May Help Prevent Dementia and Intestinal Cancers

November 27, 2013, Hobart's Menzies Research Institute, Australia

A huge study of 15,000 Australians who are healthy and over the age of 70 is the largest clinical trial to show that the use of aspirin can prevent diseases of the elderly. 

Professor Mark Nelson from Hobart's Menzies Research Institute hope thats the clinical trials could lead to easy and inexpensive treatment procedures.

"Remember aspirin is an over-the-counter medication; you don't need a doctor to prescribe it, you don't need a doctor to tell you you've turned 70," he said.

"So this is something that can be done very simply, very cheaply if we find that it's an effective strategy. 

"Aspirin actually can cause an increase in your risk of hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding type strokes and it can also cause bleeding into the stomach," he warned.

"In actual fact, the bleeding type stroke for a patients is a more catastrophic event. It's more likely to leave you disabled or to kill you.

"That's why you do clinical trials. It means when us doctors really don't know if you use it as a strategy, does it do overall good or does is it do overall harm."

The study also found that aspirin may be preventative for intestinal cancers.

"There's some very good evidence around to suggest that aspirin may prevent cancers especially cancers of the gastro-intestinal tract," say Professor Nelson.

"Now that makes sense because you take it orally so in aspirin you've got that natural component."

No recommendations have yet been made on who can benefit or what dosage is ideal to balance the elevated risk of hemorrhagic stroke with the decreased risk dementia. 

Pre-dementia Screening Could Bring Trouble

Nov. 25, 2013- UK and Australia

A well-meaning drive by the United Kingdom and The United States to screen for mild cognitive decline in the elderly could lead to mis-diagnosis and undue stress for people who may never develop dementia, a team of researchers from Australia and the U.K. say. 

Current screening methods are so inaccurate they may label as many as 23% of people who will never develop dementia as being at the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. 

They argue that the political rhetoric expended on preventing the burden of dementia would be better used in anti-smoking and anti-obesity campaigns given the recent studies that link obesity in mid-life and cigarette smoking with dementia risk. 

Cutting Stress With Medititation Reduces Dementia

Nov. 18, 2013 - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA 

Stress has been shown to be an aggravating factor in Alzheimer’s disease, so researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have undertaken a study to see whether the soothing effects of meditation has an effect on the progress of dementia. 

Publishing October 10th in Neuroscience Letters, Lead study author Rebecca Erwin Wells, MD, MPH, who orchestrated the study during her fellowship in Integrative Medicine at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School, said: "We know that approximately 50 percent of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment – the intermediate stage between the expected declines of normal aging and the more serious cognitive deterioration associated with dementia – may develop dementia within five years. And unfortunately, we know there are currently no FDA approved medications that can stop that progression. We also know that as people age, there's a high correlation between perceived stress and Alzheimer's disease, so we wanted to know if stress reduction through meditation might improve cognitive reserve."

The study consisted of two groups of patients; one group underwent two hours of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) with a combination of meditation and yoga each week for eight weeks; the other group received normal care. 

MRIs were given at the beginning and end of the study and showed significant positive changes in connectivity in the hippocampus part of the brain among those who participated in the MBSR group. 

Memory was tested, but the study wasn’t designed to see differences between the two groups; although Wells and colleagues had previously reported that, "most data suggest a trend toward improvement for measures of cognition and well-being."

Read a more comprehensive article about the study 

Australia Embarks on Project to Study Therapeutic Robot Companions for Alzheimer's patients

Nov. 20, 2013 - Queensland Australia

According to Professor Wendy Moyle of Griffith University (a partner and research leader in the Dementia Collaborative Research Center, a division of the Queensland Dementia Training and Study Centre) new treatments for dementia such as assigning patients fluffy pet robots instead of medication will be an important aspect to managing dementia patients who will double in numbers in the next 20 years. 

"The robotic animal may actually have a chance to reduce that pharmaceutical use," Moyer says. The study will focus on whether they fluffy animatronic pets will be able to reduce agitation in patients. Often the side effects of medications used to calm patients result in falls or further confusion for patients who are already struggling to focus. 

ABC News reports that each seal can respond to it’s name, has unique facial  features and can mimic emotions such as happiness, surprise and anger. 

Pressurized Oxygen Can Repair Brain Injury

Nov. 19, 2013 - Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem, Israel

Researchers in Jerusalem have found that brains which have been injured for as long as 20 years benefit from treatment in a hyperbaric pressure chamber. Although the study focuses on people who got traumatic brain injuries from one to five years ago, researchers are hoping this finding may also impact stroke patients and those in the early throes of Alzheimer's disease.

Professor Eshel Ben-Jacob of TAU's School of Physics and Astronomy and the Sagol School for Brain Sciences says that chronic brain disability may be caused by trauma to the head, as in road accidents or falls, and by strokes and various diseases and can show up in the form of physical-psychological and cognitive problems. 

His team has found that when exposed to high-pressure oxygen, these patients can improve significantly, even years after injury has occurred. 

A spokesperson for the university says that the state of Texas has shown interest in funding the use of hyperbaric chambers to treat patients who have suffered brain injuries as well as soldiers who are suffering post traumatic stress disorder after returning home from combat situations. 

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers have been used for decades to treat carbon monoxide poisoning and divers suffering from the bends. Unfortunately, a mistaken belief that the brain stops regenerating itself after early childhood has stifled research in this area, which is why pressurized oxygen therapy hasn't been tried before.

Rosemary and Spearmint Boost Brain Health

Nov. 16, 2013 - St. Louis University, St Louis, MO

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance," says Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet. 

Now a study on mice done at St. Louis University confirms the faith that many have held for centuries that the aroma of rosemary strengthens memory. 

In the study, spearmint also showed some benefit, but not as much as a strong dose of rosemary which showed benefit in memory, learning and in reduction of oxidative stress. 

Glucose levels and risk of dementia 

Nov 15- 2013 - University of Washington - Seattle, WA

A new study shows a high correlation between blood sugar levels and higher incidence of dementia (even among non-diabetics). 2067 study subjects were evaluated for blood sugar levels and cognitive decline. Results suggest that higher blood sugar is a risk factor for dementia. 

Given the buzz over type 3 diabetes being a possible cause of dementia, I'd love to see a study that shows whether a long-term lower carb diet (like the Paleo diet) which keeps carbs around 100 grams per day would have an impact on the development of cognitive decline. In the meantime, I'm watching my potato intake, among other carb-rich foods. 

I've been recommended by several people the new Dr. David Perlmutter book called "Grain Brain." I have ordered it but it hasn't, at this date, yet arrived in my mailbox. Perlmutter contends that eating grains adds too much to our daily carbohydrate load and that the resulting insulin resistance is at the core of many of our modern health problems, including Alzheimer's disease. 

Bilingual People Retain Brain Health Longer

November 6, 2013 - Neurology  

Knowing more than one language can delay dementia for 4.5 years, study shows.

A study by the University of Edinburgh says that regardless of how fluent the speaker is, knowing more than one language may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and two other kinds of dementia by nearly half a decade. 

The title of the study  "Bilingualism Delays Age at Onset of Dementia, Independent of Education and Immigration Status,” was published in the journal Neurology and took place among 648 dementia patients in the city of Hyderabad, India. Hyderabad has such a variety of cultures that more than half of the inhabitants speak at least two languages.

Read more HERE.

Mid-Life Stress Linked to Bigger Risk of Alzheimer's

BMJ Open, online September 30, 2013

A Swedish study that followed 800 women from 1968 onward shows that for each major stressful event in her life, her risk of developing Alzheimer's disease jumps up another 20%. 

"I have no reason to think that this relation is not the same among men," added Lena Johansson who is the lead author of the study from the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at Gothenburg University in Mölndal.

Poverty, diet, smoking and blood pressure also affected brain health, she says, but the risk from stress remained when they accounted for other factors.

It is notable that women who reported chronic stress has an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer's no matter how many major stress events they experienced. 

"This is the best evidence by far to date linking psychosocial stressors with dementia. It's really astounding." says Robert S. Wilson,  Alzheimer's researcher at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Read more HERE.

Singing Improves Memory in Dementia Patients

 2013 Sep 5

Singing show tunes preceded marked improvement in cognitive skills, according to a new study done by George Mason University of Virginia (USA).

Subjects who participated by singing show tunes instead of just listening to demonstrated more mental agility on memory tests.
Jane Finn, a researcher on the team said, "Even when people are in the fairly advanced stages of dementia, when it is so advanced they are in a secure ward, singing sessions were still helpful. The message is: don't give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging."

This study reminds me of a time when I’d have to travel home from work at 1 a.m. on a long, boring stretch of road. I’d roll down the window to let the cold air hit my face, I’d even slap myself in the effort to stave off drowsiness. The only thing that really worked was singing along to songs on the radio. I felt that this somehow had the ability to circumvent the tendency to fall asleep when nothing else could work. Perhaps the unique relationship that human beings have with music allows us to plug into a part of the brain that isn’t accessible any other way. Anyone interested in the complex relationship of human beings to music might be interested in a fantastic book by author/neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks called "Musicophelia." It's endlessly engaging and well-researched; I highly recommend it.

My guess is that any kind of singing will work; if your favorite dementia patient is a rock-n-roller, break out the Rolling Stones; it’s the participation that matters.

A 10-week singing course featured in a study published in Sept. 2013 by The University of Helsinky adds weight to these findings. Listening to music and singing measurable improved certains types of memory, as well as mood and orientation. Attention and general cognitive skills also improved.

Read more about the study HERE.

Peanut Butter Predicts Alzheimer's Disease

10-8-2015 - University of Floriday, Gainsville FL

Peanut butter and a metric ruler may aid the detection of Alzheimer's disease. 

Researchers at UF in Gainsville, Florida used peanut butter to check the difference between the abilities of the left and right nostril to detect Alzheimer's disease. Other forms of dementia don't affect the olfactory sense in quite the same way. This test may become a valuable tool; especially under conditions where clinical resources are limited. 

Read more about that study HERE.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Phosphatidylserine: What do Europeans know that we don't know?

What is Phosphatidylserine?

Phosphatidylserine, more simply known as PS, has been used extensively in Italy, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe with good results for the treatment of dementia. Research has supported this practice, but most of the positive results have been found while studying the effects of PS derived from the brains of cows. This form is no longer available due to the fear of mad cow disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease). Since viruses can survive in cells taken from animals, soy and cabbage derived PS have replaced animal derived sources. 

Phosphatidylserine is essential to the proper functioning of all living cells in the body. It is a significant component of the membrane that envelops every cell. In addition to holding the cell together, the membrane moves nutrients into cells and pulls waste products out of them. PS is an essential part of many of these vital functions. Research has shown that it improves both depression and cognitive decline in elderly patients.

The dosage used in studies is usually 100 mg 2-4 times a day.

New York University's Langone Medical Center has an excellent web page that lists study sources and discusses potential side effects such as it's blood-thinning action. Caution is indicated if the patient takes warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, vitamin E, pentoxifylline (Trental), clopidolgrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), garlic, or gingko biloba.

Please visit this page at Examine.com for a comprehensive examination of current research.

Seriphos, the brand name for the patented supplement phophorylated serine is about half the price of PS and, the manufacturer claims, has a more direct action than does PS because it doesn't depend on certain stomach enzymes to become effective. You can find out more about Seriphos HERE.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Coconut Oil 

Can it help in treating Alzheimer's disease?

Update: Small study by International Jounal of School of Cognitive Psychology confirms efficacy of coconut oil.

Direct quote from the discussion portion of the study: 

The results of the index study indicated that administration of oral virgin coconut oil in subjects with moderate with severe AD brought about significant improvement in cognitive performance as measured on the outcome measures of ADAS-cog and CIBIC-plus ratings. The intervention was seen to have a modest effect size of 0.3. The improvement was elicited over a short duration of 2weeks and was more pronounced by the end of 4 weeks till the oil administration lasted and the improvement was sustained for the next two weeks in absence of coconut oil administration.

One search online for coconut oil will get you hundreds of hits and testimonials about it's miraculous ability to improve dementia in Alzheimer's patients. However, very few of these are from a credible source. 

Coconut oil is mentioned on many of the Alzheimer's sites, including the venerable Alzheimer's Association: www.alz.org  There is always the disclaimer that there is not enough proof to say definitively that it can reverse dementia symptoms. There is, however, no proof that it doesn't help because comprehensive studies have yet to be completed. 

The testimonies are many and striking, however. In her book, "Alzheimer's Disease - What if There Was a Cure?" Dr. Mary T. Newport outlines the research done by Dr. Richard Veech and talks about how she applied it to her husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago. I found her personal research convincing enough to post about it here. 

Steve made dramatic improvements in memory and function to the point of being able to participate and enjoy life again. Her description of her husband coming back to life is one of the most encouraging stories I've ever read about Alzheimer's disease. 

Dr. Newport has made tireless efforts to get the word out and has documented the spectacular improvement Steve made in her book. I'd say it's definitely worth a read.

If you are unable make the investment in her book, she has graciously made the information available online, as well, in PDF form.

How it works

Coconut oil improves cognitive function, Dr. Newport maintains, because it contains a type of fatty acid called medium chain triglycerides (MCT) that appear to have a dramatic effect in repairing the neurologic dysfunction that occurs in Alzheimer's disease through inducing the production of ketones in the body of the patient. 

Ketones are what is produced as an energy source that allows the body to metabolize its own fat when a person is starving or limits their carbohydrate consumption to between 20 and 40 grams per day (as with the Atkins diet), but Dr. Newport shows in her book that just adding coconut oil (or MCT oil) to the diet produces the same ketogenic effect.

Given the exciting research that shows that insulin resistance of the brain (also called type 3 diabetes) is responsible for Alzheimer's disease, it wouldn't surprise me at all if research bears out Dr. Newport's hypothesis that coconut oil has a direct effect on improving cognitive function. A good article from New Scientist explains the connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. 

It has been well established that a ketogenic diet can help with type 2 diabetes; maybe it will work in diabetes of the brain.   

UPDATE 11-10-13: 

I found this article from Green Med Info that mentions a study from 2004 about how one dose of MCT showed cognitive improvement in patients experiencing mild cognitive decline in 4 out of 20 after just 90 minutes of treatment. The article states that there is a relationship between levels of blood ketones and cognitive improvement. I imagine that some people convert to ketones more readily and some need a few days to let it kick in. 

Also, here is another article from Greed Med Info about an in vitro study done by the Memorial University of Newfoundland on the effect of coconut oil on amyloid-beta. The abstract says: 

Dietary supplementation has been studied as an approach to ameliorating deficits associated with aging and neurodegeneration. We undertook this pilot study to investigate the effects of coconut oil supplementation directly on cortical neurons treated with amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide in vitro. Our results indicate that neuron survival in cultures co-treated with coconut oil and Aβ is rescued compared to cultures exposed only to Aβ. Coconut oil co-treatment also attenuates Aβ-induced mitochondrial alterations. The results of this pilot study provide a basis for further investigation of the effects of coconut oil, or its constituents, on neuronal survival focusing on mechanisms that may be involved.

UPDATE 11-21-13:

A study on mice done by researcher Jane Franklin at the behavioral neuropharmacology lab at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia shows that Alzheimer's disease may be linked to the consumption of sugary drinks. Mice given drinks with the equivalent amount of sugar to water ratio as you find in typical soft drinks showed protein changes in the part of the brain that are associated with decision making, determining cellular lifespan, communication and DNA repair. Nearly a third of the changed proteins are linked with conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and schizophrenia.

This supports the theory that insulin resistance is a major contributor to brain deterioration in dementia. Medium chain triglycerides such as those found in coconut oil may be an effective defense in reversing that metabolic dysfunction.

How Much to Take 

Mary suggests starting slowly with one tablespoon and working up to four tablespoons of coconut oil a day in a week's time. She uses two tablespoons twice a day.  If diarrhea occurs, scale back and increase the dosage more slowly. 

Coconut oil contains about 57% medium chain triglycerides (MCT). If you want to get pure MCT, you can get it at many nutrition stores such as Whole Foods or online. UPDATE: My local Whole Foods is now carrying, instead of MCT, a refined coconut oil that is liquid and contains 93% MCT on the label. The lady in the supplement section suggested it was superior because it was less processed. I'm not making any claims to it's superiority. I did buy some and it is has much more of a coconut flavor than simple refined coconut oil does. I have heard that MCT has no flavor, so it might be more palatable for some people. 

In order to reduce calories and fat intake, you may opt for MCT over pure coconut oil, and take a little more than half the amount that is suggested for coconut oil. Two tablespoons plus two teaspoons of MCT should do the trick. 

Some research indicates that because we produce ketones by taking coconut oil, that it can actually help with weight loss even though you may ingest more calories, overall. By ingesting four teaspoons of coconut oil per day, it is supposed to have such a positive effect on your metabolic function that you actually lose weight. A tablespoon of coconut oil contains 120 calories, so four teaspoons will contain 480 extra calories per day. (I know, it sounds too good to be true.)

You could, of course, carefully monitor the patient's weight and switch to MCT oil if weight gain occurs.

How to Use It in Your Diet

Dr. Newport used a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil in Steve's morning oatmeal. She used it in cooking and puts it anything that you would normally eat with butter such as potatoes, pasta and rice. Coconut milk, which contains a large amount of coconut oil, can also be used instead of milk in scrambled eggs, french toast etc. 

I've been using coconut oil since spring of 2012 to cook with because I believe it's a healthier fat than other cooking oils. Since I read Dr. Newport's book, I've learned to make a delicious smoothie by melting 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a cup of coconut milk in the microwave and putting it in the blender with 3/4 cups each frozen cherries and peaches. It really is delicious. I'm not very fond of the flavor of coconut, so I get the refined coconut oil which has very little coconut flavor. If you like a stronger coconut taste you can get the high or medium heat style that will taste much stronger. Sometimes I add a little honey and vanilla or almond extract to crank up the flavor profile.  It's good on it's own, though, since both the fruit and the coconut milk are on the sweet side. 

According to Dr. Newport's research, MCT creates a dramatic improvement in patients with the APOE2 and/or APOE3 genetic variant, and stops progression of the disease in APOE4 patients. Either way, it's worth a try, especially if your Alzheimer patient is in the early stages of the disease.

Please let us know in the comments section if you try the coconut or MTC oil approach and let us know whether or not it works for you.