As we age parts of out body wear out. In the brain this may result in Dementia.The big problem initially is loss of short-term memory. People forget to turn off the gas for example so they need a carer. Later they drift into a world of their own where they even forget the names of their loved ones.There are several drugs on the market which I,as a medical doctor,prescribe for my patients. The results are pretty mediocre but I shall continue to prescribe them as before. In Britain the Health Authorities show great reluctance in recommending these drugs.
A glimmer of light has appeared in America,as indeed it often does in medical matters. There is a small research and treatment center near Chicago which for its size produces a great deal of practical research work in brain chemistry, mental health and human behavior. They have now produced a possible treatment for Dementia which looks to me to be quite exciting.
Since 2000 they have been using powerful antioxidants and this is now producing results, They have received many reports of partial return of lost memory followed by stabilisation of mental functioning that has continued for up to 5 years. These reports have been verified by using the Mini-Mental Test and the computerised CANTAB testing. Although the early results are promising this treatment must be considered as "unproven" until double-blind,controlled studies can be successfully completed.
Recent research suggests that degenerative brain diseases are associated with Oxidative Stress. If you have not studied chemistry there is plenty of information on this topic by googling the term. Basically it means a type of chemical imbalance or free radical attack that damages the body tissue.You can see cases of it when for example an apple that you slice open rapidly goes off color.In Alzheimer`s key features include the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques,tau protein and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles.These changes appear to be associated with elevated levels of metal free-radicals and excessive oxidative stress. Free-radical metals such as iron, copper,aluminium,lead and mercury appear to accelerate the formation of amyloid plaques that are a distinctive feature of the disease. In healthy people the higher level of metallothionein proteins (MT) can bind to free-radicals,rendering them harmless. However MT protein levels in Alzheimer`s patients have been shown to be generally less than one third of normal levels. Restoring MT proteins to normal levels could potentially slow or halt the progression of the disease.It could even represent an effective approach for prevention of this terrible disease.
Pfeiffer Center (www.hriptc.org) and in particular its Chief of Research,Dr William Walsh PhD,have formulated preparations that greatly reduce this oxidative stress and also increases metallothionein proteins.
I am now using the protocol and preparations from Pfeiffer as a possible new treatment for Alzheimer`s Disease. I use this treatment as complementary treatment in association with the standard medication,not instead of it. So far I have found little demand for this service.However on Feb 22 , 2007 I measured the Minimental scale of the first one I saw two months ago. Aged 78 his figure has gone from 8 to 13 in that time. I am amazed. He is much easier too communicate with his well and his wife is pleased. However one swallow does not make a summer.
There is an article about nutrition in Alzheimers in a Biobalance newletter from Australia which you can consult at www.biobalance.org.au/_downloads/bbha-newsletter-feb-2007.pdf. Prof. John Crayton is a psychiatrist from Loyola Medical School in Chicago and is a well known researcher.The rest of the newsletter is full of useful information for anybody interested in nutrition in mental health.
I also favour the use of omega-3 in Alzheimers. It is the DHA in particular that is important in this condition as it has been found to prevent amyloid aggregate formation. In April 2007 I found this article on DHA in Alzheimers: www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=68196&nfid=nl Note that people who consume fish once a week have a 60% lower risk of devoping Alzheimer`s. Those who take 100mg DHA have an incidence which is 70% lower than those who take 30mg or less per day. Those who take fish oil at a dose of 1.6-4.1g/day have a70% lower risk than those with an intake below 1.05g.