Saturday, June 23, 2018

The End of Alzheimer’s Book Gives Hope

DIMENSIONS OF DEMENTIA

 

After cleaning up from Irma, you may have time to sit down and pick up a new book, “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Dementia” by Dale E. Bredesen, M.D. The title’s claim is bold. Prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s when so many clinical trials have failed to find a cure! I was skeptical, but purchased the book in August from Amazon. After reading it, I am cautiously hopeful.

The author gives case studies of individuals whose dementia has been reversed beginning with Kristin, Dr. Bredesen’s first candidate. Kristin, he states, was suicidal. She had watched as her mother’s mind slipped away, an 18-year decline beginning at age 68. When 65, Kristin began to experience her own cognitive problems. She got lost when driving on the freeway, could no longer analyze data critical to her job or prepare reports, could not remember numbers or what she read. Kristin began to make more and more mistakes, called her peers by the wrong name, and could not find the light switches in her own home. After two years of decline she consulted a physician who told her she had dementia like her mother and there was nothing he could do for her. After retinal scanning revealed Alzheimer’s associated amyloid, she decided to take her own life rather than go through what her mother had. Kristin called her friend Barbara with her decision.

 

Barbara, though horrified at her friend’s situation, had an idea. She had seen promising research and suggested Kristin visit the Buck Institute for Research on Aging near San Francisco. Kristin took the suggestion and saw Dr. Bredesen there in 2012. He admitted he had nothing to offer her, no guarantee, no patient who had used the protocol—nothing more than “diagrams, theory, and data from transgenic mice.” In addition, the protocol that Dr. Bredesen had developed had just been turned down for its first proposed clinical trial because the review board felt it was “too complicated.”

Dr. Bredesen discussed the protocol with Kristin and suggested she take it to her physician and ask if he would work with her, which she did. Three months later Kristin called Dr. Bredesen and reported she could not believe the changes in her mental abilities. She was able to work full-time again, to drive without getting lost, and to remember phone numbers without difficulty.

Kristin, Patient Zero for the ReCODE protocol, has been on it for five years and is now 75. According to the author she still works full-time, travels the world, and continues to be asymptomatic. When she discontinued the program briefly four times because of a viral illness, running out of some of the pills, traveling, each time her cognition began to decline. But when she returned to ReCODE, it again returned to normal.

Some 200 patients have now been successfully treated with ReCODE, according to Dr. Bredesen. Since this protocol flies in the face of the accepted view that Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, slowed, or reversed until a miracle drug arrives, there has been skepticism from the beginning. But since 2016, Dr. Bredesen has trained 450 physicians, neuropsychologists, nurses, health coaches, and nutritional therapists from seven different countries and the United States. It is encouraging, he says, that increasing numbers of neuroscientists and physicians are beginning to recognize that Alzheimer’s, rather than being caused by the sticky amyloid plaques or neuron-strangling tangles, is actually the result of a protective response in the brain.

He explains that Alzheimer’s happens when the threats to the brain are chronic, multiple, unrelenting. He specifies three culprits: “inflammation from infection, diet, or other causes; the decline and shortage of supportive nutrients, hormones, and other brain-supporting molecules; and toxic substances such as metals or biotoxins (poisons produced by toxic molds.)” Dr. Bredesen says his research protocol addresses ways to rebalance these mechanisms by adjusting lifestyle factors, including micronutrients, hormone levels, stress, sleep quality, diet, and overnight fasts.

Dr. Dale Bredesen is no newcomer to neuroscience with 200 plus scientific papers published over the last forty years. Some are available online from Bloomberg with bio information there and on MPI Cognition, the organization he founded to “reduce the burden of dementia and reverse the process in those with Alzheimer’s disease.” He served as Chief Resident in Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) before joining Nobel Laureate Stanley Prusiner’s laboratory at (UCSF). He held faculty positions there, at UCLA, and the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Bredesen directed the Program on Aging at the Burnham Institute before coming to the Buck Institute in 1998 as its founding president and CEO. He graduated from Caltech and earned his MD from Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

My late husband’s neurologist, Dr. David Perlmutter, who practiced in Naples before becoming a bestselling author, endorsed Dr. Bredesen’s book stating, “The End of Alzheimer’s is a monumental work. Dr. Bredesen completely recontextualizes this devastating condition away from a mysterious and unsolvable process to one that is both preventable, and, yes, reversible.”

The title of the book’s first chapter is Disrupting Alzheimer’s. Dr. Bredesen gives some history of the disease, the failure of countless studies to find a preventative or cure. “No wonder we have come to fear Alzheimer’s disease as omnipotent. As hopeless. As impervious to any and all treatments. Until now. Let me say this as clearly as I can. Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented and in many cases its associated cognitive decline can be reversed. For that is precisely what my colleagues and I have shown in peer-reviewed studies in leading medical journals— studies that for the first time, describe exactly this remarkable result in patients.”

Dr.Bredesen says the book is, “not a scientific tome—although I include the scientific evidence that supports my conclusions— but instead a practical, easy-to-use, step-by-step manual for preventing and reversing the cognitive decline of early Alzheimer’s or its precursors…and for sustaining that improvement.” According to the author, the ReCODE protocol was first reported in a scientific paper in 2014 when the method was called MEND for metabolic enhancement of neurodegeneration. It was followed by scientific papers in 2015 and 2016.

Chapters two through six relate the scientific odyssey that lead to ReCODE. They describe the discoveries that form the scientific basis of the treatment protocol—what Alzheimer’s disease looks like, where it comes from, and why it is so common. The fourth chapter title, How to Give Yourself Alzheimer’s: A Primer, is uncomfortably close to what may be our typical American diet and lifestyle: too much sugar, gluten, stress, too many fries, lack of sleep, exposure to mold and toxins.

The best thing about the protocol recommended by Dr. Bredesen may be that you can initiate it yourself. And that is probably the hardest thing. It’s not simple, like taking a pill. There are lab tests, checking your DNA to find your APOE gene to see which one you have: the good, the so/so, the bad, plus it requires changes in behavior and diet. Though complex, following it may mean a reversal of symptoms if you have Alzheimer’s and the ability to retain memory and normal function if you don’t.

Chapter 7 covers the scientific basis for ReCode, where Dr. Bredesen suggests that the way for all of us over 45 years old to prevent cognitive decline is to have a “Cognoscopy, ” evaluating all of the potential contributors and risk factors. “You can’t fix a problem you’re unaware of, so whether you are interested in preventing cognitive decline or reversing it, you need to determine in detail where you stand in terms of your vulnerability to the three insults of inflammation, suboptimal hormones and other brain nutrients, and toxic compounds. Only then can you identify what needs to be addressed in order to improve cognitive function.” He suggests the blood tests may be available from your physician that will show the needed results. The last three chapters of the book are to maximize success for individuals undertaking the protocol. There are four Appendices listing valuable information. Footnotes are included for each chapter and an index makes it easy to look up information.

“The End of Alzheimer’s” is a hopeful book of 274 pages. Dr. Bredesen concludes it by saying, “Everyone knows a cancer survivor, but no one knows an Alzheimer’s survivor. As I hope I have succeeded in showing you in this book, that is yesterday’s news. The world has changed.”

Thank you Dr. Bredesen for a hopeful approach to ending Alzheimer’s. You’ve convinced me to take action. My next move –to go online and order my DNA kit.

Shirley Woolaway has an M. Ed. in counseling and worked in journalism, in business, and as a therapist in Pennsylvania. She has 25 years personal experience with dementia as a caregiver for family members with Alzheimer’s disease, and nine years as the coordinator of an Alzheimer’s Association memory loss/caregiver support group, earlier in Pennsylvania and now on Marco Island. We believe that Shirley’s insights will prove helpful to many of our readers.

For help on all aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias call the national Alzheimer’s Association confidential, 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900 or the local Bonita Springs office at 239-405- 7008 for care consults and support group information. Also helpful with local educational programs, workshops, and support groups, is the Naples Alzheimer’s Support Network, 239-262-8388.

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