Photobiotherapy (Light therapy) has been helpful for treating Alzheimer’s disease. There has been some convincing research and reports from doctors about some striking case histories using Photobiotherapy alone. It’s important to remember that, thus far, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it may be possible to mitigate and even reverse symptoms and slow or arrest progression of the disease. We don’t consider Photobiotherapy to be a stand-alone treatment, and feel that the best results can be obtained using a customized program of lifestyle adjustment, supplements and regulating prescription medications.
Lifestyle is particularly important, especially blood sugar regulation. Alzheimer’s disease has been nicknamed “Type III diabetes,” because control of sugar consumption and blood sugar regulation are known to be key issues. Medical investigations have shown that diabetes interferes with clear thinking and blocks memory. In addition, it increases your risk of Alzheimer's by 65 percent. But even if you don't have diabetes, but you merely have elevated blood sugar, a pre-diabetic condition can also interfere with your ability to remember. The possibility of other nutritional imbalances should also be explored.
It's important to identify a cause of the disease when possible. Toxic metals, can be a cause or an important factor as well as gum disease and cardiovascular disease. Side effects from certain drugs can greatly increase the risk of onset or exacerbate the symptoms. In particular, a class of drugs called anticholinergics are strongly linked to Alzheimer’s. These include certain antidepressants, anti-Parkinson’s drugs, antipsychotics, and antiepileptic drugs among others. Overall, high use of anticholinergic medications for three years or more was associated with a 54% increased risk for dementia, compared to nonuse. This heightened risk remains even after the drug or drugs were discontinued.
There are a number of supplements that have been found to be helpful based on studies reported in the peer-reviewed literature. A medical history and examination can help target the ones that might be helpful among many, including pregnenolone, a hormone that can stimulate brain stem cells, and essential nutrients like choline, glutamine, and phosphatidyl serine. Probiotics have recently been found to help in some cases. There are also herbs that can help, including traditional East Asian herbal formulas, which have been tested for treating dementia in Japan in human clinical trials.
Alzheimer’s and the Microbiome
A study by a team of researchers in Switzerland and Italy found a connection between imbalances in the gut microbiota and the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. Alzheimer's is characterized by an accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. A cohort of 89 people between 65 and 85 years of age. some of whom suffered from Alzheimer's disease or other neurodegenerative diseases, were compared with a control group of healthy individuals with no memory problems. The researchers used PET imaging to measure amyloid deposition in their brains, then measured markers of inflammation and proteins produced by intestinal bacteria, such as lipopolysaccharides and short-chain fatty acids, in their blood. Lipopolysaccharides cause inflammation and have been found in amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. The study revealed that high blood levels of lipopolysaccharides are associated with large amyloid deposits in the brain.
According to Moira Marizzoni, a study author with the Fatebenefratelli Center in Brescia, Italy, "Our results are indisputable: Certain bacterial products of the intestinal microbiota are correlated with the quantity of amyloid plaques in the brain.”
Plasmalogens and Alzheimer’s
In a book called Breaking Alzheimer’s: A 15 Year Crusade to Expose the Cause and Deliver the Cure, by Dayan Goodenowe, Ph.D., Dr. Goodenowe claims that the single most important factor in treating Alzheimer’s disease is to supply nutritional factors, building blocks of brain tissue called “plasmalogens.” The level of plasmalogens is particularly low in Alzheimer’s patients and begins to decline in most people around the age of 60.
Plasmalogens are important for the organization and stability of membranes involved in cellular signaling. Plasmalogen deficiency can be demonstrated in various neurodegenerative disorders, not only Alzheimer’s disease, but also Parkinson’s disease and cortical cataract. They are also considered to be endogenous antioxidants, protection against the aging effects of oxidative stress. Their importance in signaling pathways in the brain means that their presence is vital to the brain communicating with itself and with the rest of the nervous system.
I have been reviewing the research literature and consulting with a Japanese company that produces a high-quality plasmalogen product that will be available soon. In one study, a multicenter, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial showed a statistically significant improvement in results using the Wechsler Memory Scale among females and subjects less than 77 years of age. Researchers have concluded that plasmalogens have an anti-amyloidogenic effect, reducing the damaging amyloid protein found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, and a memory loss inhibition effect.
Here are some recommendations for Alzheimer’s patients:
Lifestyle – no sugar; follow a general anti-inflammatory lifestyle
Here are a few supplements to consider:
- Pregnenolone is one of the most important. It stimulates brain stem cells.
- Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine and is an essential nutrient not only for your brain and nervous system but also your cardiovascular function. The Institute of Medicine officially recognized choline as an essential nutrient for human health in 1998.
- L-Glutamine. Glutamine is one of the most abundant nonessential amino acids in the bloodstream. It is produced in the muscles and is able to pass freely through the blood–brain barrier. Once in the brain, it is converted into glutamic acid and increases GABA, a neurotransmitter essential for proper mental function. There are two types of glutamine supplements: D-glutamine and L-glutamine. L-glutamine is the form that more closely mimics the glutamine in the body.
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC). This amino acid protects the brain from damaging free radicals by boosting quantities of glutathione, one of the body's most powerful antioxidants.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS). PS helps the brain use fuel more efficiently. By boosting neuronal metabolism and stimulating production of acetylcholine, PS may be able to improve the condition of patients in cognitive decline. Studies have revealed that supplementing with phosphatidylserine slows down and even reverses declining memory and concentration, or age-related cognitive impairment, in middle-age and elderly subjects. As we grow older, aging slows the body's manufacturing of phosphatidylserine to levels that are detrimental to our functioning at our full mental capacity.
- Probiotics: The Bifidobacterium breve strain A1 may be of particular use in Alzheimer’s treatment.
- “Brain Health,” made from Hokkaido scallops containing plasmalogens
- Rosemary: Research has focused on the ability of certain chemical constituents of rosemary to inhibit inflammatory responses. Inflammation has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsonism, diabetes, and atherosclerosis among other conditions. The effect of rosemary compounds also has an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effect on brain-related post-infection symptoms of SARS-CoV-2, termed “long-COVID,” Including neurological aftereffects such as anxiety and “brain fog.”
Gum disease Dementia is now the 5th greatest cause of death around the world. About 70% of these deaths can be attributed to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), yet the cause of this disease is not understood. Research has shown that gum infections exacerbate symptoms in AD animal research models and cause AD-like brain inflammation, neuronal damage and amyloid plaques in healthy mice. New evidence suggests that amyloid proteins may be a defense against bacteria. This has inspired studies looking at bacteria in AD, particularly those that cause gum disease, which is a known risk for the condition because bacteria involved in gum disease and other illness have been found after death in brain of those with disease.
On the basis of our preliminary review, a combination of B vitamins (folic acid, B6, and B12) probably improves cognitive impairment in MCI, whereas a Mediterranean diet may improve cognitive function in AD and probably decreases the risk for AD in both MCI patients and nondemented persons.
We also found some promising potential interventions for cognitively normal persons and MCI patients. We found that, for example, specific omega-3 fatty acids are likely to decrease cognitive impairment in MCI, and flavonoids (e.g., regular intake of at least eight oz per week of blueberries and strawberries) may delay symptoms.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids found abundantly in seafood, specifically ALA, EPA, and DHA, tame inflammation in our nervous system. Ischemic stroke and trauma, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, epilepsy, and brain aging have all been linked to imbalances in essential fatty acids.
In animals, high exposure to alcohol depletes the brain of DHA, which stands for docosahexaenoic acid. Diet appears to play a role in their alcohol appetite: Rats fed lots of DHA opt to consume less alcohol than rats on a low-DHA diet (Galduroz et al., 2020).
In brief, the results showed that the study participants who reported eating or drinking more foods high in antioxidants called flavonols were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s years later (Holland TM et al. 2020).
The study was an analysis of data collected from 921 seniors — aged 81 years on average — participating in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project or MAP, which recruits volunteer subjects from Chicago-area retirement communities and public housing.
On average, volunteers are followed by MAP study researchers for six years. And every year, the volunteers complete a detailed diet questionnaire that asks how often they ate specific foods. The MAP volunteers also answered questions about lifestyle factors affecting dementia risk, such as their level of education, their level of physical activity, and how much time they spent on mental activities such as reading and playing games.
And annually, the MAP study participants took standard tests designed to detect signs that they’d developed Alzheimer’s-type dementia.
Based on their annual diet surveys, the participants were placed into five categories of estimated daily flavonol intake, including highest- and lowest-intake categories:
- Those with the highest flavonol intakes averaged 15.3 mg daily.
- Those with the lowest flavonol intakes averaged 5.3mg of flavonols daily.
To put those estimated average intakes in perspective, the average American consumes an estimated 16-20mg of flavonols daily.
Annually, all the participants were given standard tests designed to detect signs that they’d developed Alzheimer’s-type dementia.
Which flavonols (and foods) delivered the biggest risk reduction?
Using the participants answers to the diet surveys, the Chicago categorized people’s intakes of the four most common types of flavonols, and identify the top food sources:
- Isorhamnetin – pears, extra-virgin olive oil*, wine, and tomato sauce
- Kaempferol – kale, beans, tea, spinach and broccoli
- Myricetin – tea, wine, kale, oranges, and tomatoes
- Quercetin – tomatoes, kale, apples and tea
Vitamin B-12 is part of the composition of the myelin sheath. Deficiencies of vitamin B-12 have been found in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid of patients with demyelination. Vitamin B-12 has a very important role in the formation and function of myelin. Vitamin B-12 deficiency compromises the ability of the body to repair the damaged myelin after an attack to the nerve tissue. Blood levels of vitamin B-12 may not accurately reflect the availability of vitamin B-12; that is, a person with blood test results that show normal levels may actually be deficient. Some doctors consider the normal range of B-12 to be much higher than the standard blood tests measure, so a value low in the normal range would still be considered insufficient. Another way to determine if B-12 is deficient is to measure levels of the chemical homocysteine. If homocysteine, a cardiovascular risk factor, is elevated then B-12 can be considered to be functionally deficient.
Researchers have shown that on average, people with myelin sheath degeneration are severely vitamin D deficient. This may be one reason that myelin sheath damage is more prevalent in northern latitudes, where people get less sun exposure.
Silymarin (from Milk Thistle)
Researchers found that in mice specifically bred to develop Alzheimer’s via excessive amyloid beta production when given silymarin on a daily basis significantly prevented them from developing this problem. The research indicates that silymarin, a compound derived from milk thistle, can help prevent the development of this disease
Glutathione is severely deficient in almost all patients with chronic neurological disorders. Supplementing glutathione either intravenously, with liposomal glutathione or orally with glutathione precursors such as non-denatured whey protein powder can have remarkable effects. Intravenous infusions of glutathione have resulted in striking benefits to patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Foods and Senile Dementia
Susanne Sorensen, who serves as the Head of Research at the Alzheimer's Society states that "The best way of reducing your risk of developing dementia is to maintain a balanced diet with regular and frequent social interactions." Research into the causes of dementia is now demonstrating a point I have been making for decades: deficiencies of essential nutrients can lead to a variety of health problems and leave us vulnerable to serious conditions such as senile dementia. The good news is that it is never too early to start good nutritional habits that will help to protect the brain over a lifetime. And it is never too late to benefit from good nutritional habits.
Most Americans today eat foods that are over-processed and far from their natural state. These processed foods have been stripped of vital nutrients and filled with additives, processed sugars, and trans fats.
In addition to nutrients lost through poor diet, nutritional deficiencies may simply increase as we age. To help ensure that our bodies get the nutrients we need, we must make an effort to eat foods in their natural state. For people suffering from senile dementia, it is vitally important to purchase organic foods whenever possible, because these foods are more likely to have trace minerals like chromium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc, which are vital to the brain's health.
Various studies support the efficacy of taking antioxidants as a method of preventing or reversing cognitive decline. Vitamins E and C are proven free radical fighters and readily available in foods like citrus fruits and juices; dark green, leafy vegetables; nuts; and sunflower seeds. The B vitamins, which play an important role in fighting the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, are found in fish, eggs, beans, and animal proteins. Trace minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and potassium are easy to add to our diets by using whole grains, nuts, dried beans, bananas, and milk.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) such as omega-3 and omega-6 fats, which are found in flax oil and walnuts, have significant anti-inflammatory properties and may be important in preventing senile dementia.
Supplements, Vitamins and Minerals. Certain vitamins and minerals are very important in fighting the onset of senile dementia. Always consult with a certified healthcare practitioner before taking any supplements.
Calcium. Calcium from citrate can have a calming effect on the body, and a calcium deficiency can cause restlessness and wakefulness.
Magnesium. Magnesium is well known for its calming properties in persons with anxiety
symptoms, but proper amounts of magnesium are generally lacking in the average American diet. Individuals who use oral contraceptives or diuretics, and who overuse laxatives, are at risk of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium from citrate also assists in impacting circulatory problems.
Potassium. Potassium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body. Most of the time, supplementation with potassium is unnecessary, because it is readily available in our diet in such foods as bananas, orange juice, and potatoes. Potassium is depleted from our bodies in times of stress, thus upsetting the delicate balance of neurotransmitter communication in our brains. For this reason, potassium supplements may be useful in impacting senile dementia. Potassium can interact with some drugs, so if you are taking prescription medications, consult with your doctor before taking potassium supplements.
Vitamin B-Complex. It is important that your daily vitamin B-complex contain sufficient amounts of both vitamin B5 and B2, because deficiencies in these vitamins can develop as we age, and these deficiencies can contribute to the symptoms of senile dementia. If your doctor has determined that you are deficient in B vitamins, you may want to ask about receiving intravenous or injected supplements of vitamin B-complex to prevent or combat symptoms of senile dementia.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C may help delay the onset of senile dementia and slow the progression of symptoms.
Vitamin E. Vitamin E has beneficial antioxidant properties, and treatment with high doses has shown initial promise in slowing the progression of symptoms in individuals with dementia associated with moderately severe Alzheimer's. Because vitamin E has anticoagulant properties, and high doses may be associated with the risk of bleeding and interaction with anticoagulants and other medications often taken by elderly people, you should discuss high-dose vitamin E supplementation with your doctor.
Smart Drugs and Nutrients
A number of other naturally occurring nutrients may have beneficial impacts on the symptoms of senile dementia.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ACL). This versatile nutrient is able to permeate the blood–brain barrier to stimulate and fortify the brain's nerve cells. Acetyl-L-carnitine is a type of carnitine produced naturally in the brain. It can aid in directing fatty acids to the cell mitochondria, assisting in the creation of new cell energy. A powerful antioxidant, acetyl-L-carnitine also supplements the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
L-Glutamine. Glutamine is one of the most abundant nonessential amino acids in the bloodstream. It is produced in the muscles and is able to pass freely through the blood–brain barrier. Once in the brain, it is converted into glutamic acid and increases GABA, a neurotransmitter essential for proper mental function. There are two types of glutamine supplements: D-glutamine and L-glutamine. L-glutamine is the form that more closely mimics the glutamine in the body.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC). This amino acid protects the brain from damaging free radicals by boosting quantities of glutathione, one of the body's most powerful antioxidants.
Phosphatidylserine (PS). PS helps the brain use fuel more efficiently. By boosting neuronal metabolism and stimulating production of acetylcholine, PS may be able to improve the condition of patients in cognitive decline. Studies have revealed that supplementing with phosphatidylserine slows down and even reverses declining memory and concentration, or age-related cognitive impairment, in middle-age and elderly subjects. As we grow older, aging slows the body's manufacturing of phosphatidylserine to levels that are detrimental to our functioning at our full mental capacity.