Reversing Alzheimer's Disease

I wouldn’t have believed it. 

I have faith in the integrated, functional approach, but didn’t understand how far some practitioners have taken it.

If someone said this approach would eventually figure out how to reverse something as complex as Alzheimer’s dementia, I would have believed them, but I would have thought this would be some time in the uncertain future.

Dale Bredesen, MD, a researcher out of UCLA, is showing that the time to reverse this disease process is now. We have the tools. It can be done. This is a revelation. 


As nothing else, Dr. Bredensen’s work shows the power of the functional medicine movement. His protocols utilize dietary change, fasting, stress management, genetic testing and targeted supplementation.


The dietary changes are similar to a Paleo diet although I’m not sure if he uses that term. People are to avoid sugar, dairy, processed foods and grains like wheat. He uses supplements familiar to most like vitamin D, fish oil and antioxidants. He uses supplements like methylfolate and methylB12 that work within the methylation cycles.


The brilliance of his work, though, comes from novel interventions like the recommendation to use the edible mushroom Hericium erinaceus. Research has shown that H. erinaceus promotes increased levels of a substance called nerve growth factor (NGf). This NGf is involved in maintaining and organizing cholinergic neurons in the central nervous system.


There are a number of other specialized interventions and the scope is beyond this single blog.


Dr. Bredesen and his colleagues put together the simple and common interventions with many esoteric and radical adjustments to reverse the memory problems and cognitive deficits seen in those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.


The earlier we would intervene in the dementia process, the easier it should be to reverse. A pre-dementia scenario called Mild Cognitive Impairment is probably the most opportune time to bring some of these approaches to the fold. But why wait until then? We should be doing as many of the simpler options as early as possible.


The first person I brought this up to was a 76-year-old man who came in for a physical. He said that a neurologist had diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s disease about six months prior. I reviewed some of Bredesen’s work, but even a simplified version was too much for him to process.


I wrote down four basic things for him to start, but said that his wife or son would of course have to help. I was hoping his son might come to a follow-up visit so we could discuss the protocol in more detail, but he bowed his head and said softly that he didn’t want to be a burden to his son. His wife called up the next day confused and agitated by the piece of paper her husband brought home. They still haven’t come back for a return visit.


Perhaps he and his wife don’t believe that this is possible?  Maybe it’s too good to be true? 


Bredensen’s published case studies would say that this is true and, to me, it is worth our best efforts to curtail this devastating condition. From the American College of Nutrition’s 56th Annual Conference, Dr. Bredensen presented: Translational Nutrition: Optimizing Brain Health. Watch it on YouTube.

Andrew Lendardt MD

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