Can Alzheimer’s dementia be reversed?

I’ve written in the past and offered advice on keeping your brain sharp to avoid memory decline, especially through diet. Fortunately, if you’ve received an early diagnosis, have a loved one who has started to slip into Alzheimer’s dementia, or just want to be proactive — I want you to know it’s never too late for help. Through natural methods and nutrient supplements it’s possible to reverse dementia, naturally.

Brain-boosting activities

Mental exercises may seem wimpy, yet studies in aging Alzheimer’s patients demonstrate less decline in thinking skills and memory when the brain is stimulated by mental exercises. 1 2 3 How can you implement mental exercises? Well, it can be fun and interesting:

  • Start a new hobby; learn a new talent or skill
  • Travel (keeping your agenda full of learning about what you see that is new)
  • Get a part time job, volunteer, or learn a new foreign language
  • Attend adult community seminars and events on interesting topics
  • Play mind activity games like crossword and puzzles. Good online source: http://www.lumosity.com/.
  • Listening to inspiring authors such as Esther Hicks (www.Abraham-hicks.com) Wayne Dyer, Michael Beckwith, or others—to focus on feeling good in your relationships and perspective

Nutrients that thwart memory robbers

There are many nutrients that are useful to help preserve memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s dementia. Some companies market these as “medical foods” or “nutraceuticals.” A search of the peer-reviewed scientific literature supports these although large clinical trials are lacking.

Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone, ubiquinol): 200 mg daily. This is shown to boost brain mitochondrial activity and provide a protective effect in rodent nerve tissue, especially when taken together with vitamin E. 4 In 2011 a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported that coenzyme Q10 decreased amyloid-beta pathology and improved behavioral and cognitive performance in Alzheimer’s mice (transgenic mouse model). 5

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH): 10 mg/day, 30 minutes before breakfast. A small double-blind study  found no evidence of progressive cognitive deterioration and significantly higher cognitive performance scores among Alzheimer’s patients who took 10 mg daily for 6 months compared with those treated with placebo. 6

Tramiprosate (homotaurine, clinically tested as Alzhemed, and marketed as the medical food called ViviMind™). Clinical studies showed tramiprosate to be safe, tolerable, and in mild-to-moderate dementia patients it reduced amyloid-beta levels in brain fluid. 7

Phosphatidyl serine and other healthy oils

  • Phosphatidyl serine (PS): 100 mg three times daily or 300 mg daily has been repeatedly shown in studies to improve memory in aging patients with memory complaints and early cognitive decline, although there are a few that show no significant improvement by PS supplementation. 8 9 10 11 12 In a multi-university study, subjects who took PS achieved a 30 percent improvement in cognitive function, including learning, memory, and recalling numbers, names and faces, and another study showed that PS supplementation had a 33 percent improvement in learning and remembering written information compared to the placebo control group. 13 PS also works synergistically with vitamin B12 supplementation.
  • Phosphatidyl choline (lecithin): 1-2 Tbsp/day. It has only been shown to improve cognitive function in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and there is a “therapeutic window dose” above which the beneficial effects of lecithin treatment are lost.
  • Omega-3 oil (fish oil, krill oil, flaxseed oil): DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are the building blocks of nerve tissue. Consuming oils high in omega-3 fatty acids makes cell nerve membranes more malleable, which is thought to promote cognitive function. Dose at 3 grams daily.
  • Caprylic acid from coconut oil; a fractionated coconut oil high in caprylic acid is clinically tested and marketed as a medical food called Axona®). 14

Herbs and extracts for a strong mind

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herbal extracts have been studied in rodents and found to be safe and effective. 15 They are used in humans but have few clinical trials as of yet. These include extracts from: green tea (EGCG), Ginkgo biloba + ginseng, blueberries (anthocyanins), grape seeds (resveratrol), curcumin, marine algae (fucoxanthin), cat’s claw, bilberry and black currant. 16 17  18  19  20  21 22

Here is further information on a few of these listed above:

  • Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) extract contains antioxidant polyphenols and proanthocyanidins; it is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, a potent enhancer of DNA repair in primary organ cultures of human skin, and has been found to have a high binding affinity to beta amyloid protein. 23  24 25
  • Bilberry and blackcurrant extracts contain phenolic compounds that were shown to greatly reduce brain beta amyloid protein and improve memory in Alzheimer’s mice. 26
  • Huperzine A (Huperzia serrata, an extract from moss): 200 micrograms twice daily. This is a potent inhibitor of acetylcholine esterase. Two double-blind clinical trials in China showed it to be safe and effective for the long term treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia. It was found to be superior to Aricept, with longer lasting effects and fewer side effects. Reports from an estimated 100,000 people treated suggest low toxicity. It also decreases neuronal cell death caused by toxic levels of glutamate, (useful to help prevent strokes and epilepsy too).
  • Vinpocetine: 20 mg daily. It has been well-proven to have cerebral blood-flow enhancing and neuroprotective effects without adverse events. Several studies indicate it is useful to reduce memory loss and cognitive decline. 27 28

Amino acids that fight back

  • Acetyl-l-carnitine: 500 -1,000 mg three times daily. Acetyl-l-carnitine has many studies showing it helps reverse the disease process of Alzheimer’s dementia. 29 The mechanism of action is predominately its anti-oxidant effects, much like polyphenols resveratrol and curcumin. For example, memory and cognitive scores in Alzheimer’s patients given 2250-3,000 mg daily of Acetyl-l-carnitine improved 2.8 times better than placebo-treated subjects over 12 weeks. 30
  • L-glutamine and L-tyrosine 3-5 grams daily help prevent Alzheimer’s disease progression because they feed brain tissue and help reduce atherosclerosis.

Vitamins that rev up brain power

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Thiamine is important for acetylcholine metabolism and release from the presynaptic neuron. Deficiency of thiamine has been shown to increase β-amyloid plaque accumulation of in many studies. Taking 3 to 8 grams daily had only a mild benefit in Alzheimer’s in a 1993 study but a 1996 study found good effects with a daily dose of 100 mg for 12 weeks. 31 32
  • Vitamins B6, B12 and folate help reduce homocysteine, a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia. Deficiency of Vitamin B12 can cause Alzheimer’s symptoms; 25% of people aged 60-70 years and approximately 40% of those over 80 years of age are deficient in Vitamin B12, mainly from poor absorption. Vitamin B12 works synergistically with phosphatidyl serine supplementation.
  • Vitamin D3: a meta-analysis reported in 2013 revealed that low vitamin D levels predict memory loss and cognitive dysfunction; 33 vitamin D supplementation in these subjects improved cognitive function and made no difference in control groups. Another study reported in 2013 shows us that vitamin D restored suppressed synaptic transmission when given to Alzheimer’s rats. 34
  • Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol with mixed tocopherols): 800 IU twice daily for up to 2 years is safe and has been reported to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, probably because it is synergistic with CoEnzyme Q10, an endogenous compound that decreases with age. 35

As you can see there are many nutrient supplements to help preserve memory even in the later stages of decline.

To feeling good for health,

Michael Cutler, M.D
Easy Health Options

P.S. My e-book, Nature’s Secrets for an Active, Healthy Mind–At Any Age!–can help you keep a sharp mind well into your senior years. Discover 14 brain-fueling superfoods… 6 memory-killing foods you should avoid… and much more. Plus, you can get it today at half price–just $9.95! Click here!

[1] Hall CB, Lipton RB, Sliwinski M, Katz MJ, Derby CA, Verghese J. Cognitive activities delay onset of memory decline in persons who develop dementia. Neurology. 2009 Aug 4;73(5):356-61.
[2] Wilson RS, Mendes De Leon CF, Barnes LL, Schneider JA, Bienias JL, Evans DA, Bennett DA. Participation in cognitively stimulating activities and risk of incident Alzheimer disease. JAMA. 2002 Feb 13;287(6):742-8.
[3] Verghese J, Lipton RB, Katz MJ, Hall CB, Derby CA, Kuslansky G, Ambrose AF, Sliwinski M, Buschke H. Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. N Engl J Med. 2003 Jun 19;348(25):2508-16.
[4] McDonald SR, Sohal RS, Forster MJ. Concurrent administration of coenzyme Q10 and alpha-tocopherol improves learning in aged mice. Free Radic Biol Med. 2005 Mar 15;38(6):729-36.
[5] Dumont M, Kipiani K, Yu F, Wille E, Katz M, Calingasan NY, Gouras GK, Lin MT, Beal MF. Coenzyme Q10 decreases amyloid pathology and improves behavior in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;27(1):211-23.
[6] Demarin V, Podobnik SS, Storga-Tomic D, Kay G. Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with stabilized oral nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide: a randomized, double-blind study. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 2004;30(1):27-33.
[7] Aisen PS, Saumier D, Briand R. A Phase II study targeting amyloid-beta with 3APS in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer disease. Neurology. 2006;67:1757–63. [PubMed]
[8] Vakhapova V, Cohen T, Richter Y, Herzog Y, Korczyn AD. Phosphatidylserine containing omega-3 fatty acids may improve memory abilities in non-demented elderly with memory complaints: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2010;29(5):467-74.
[9] Crook TH, Tinklenberg J, Yesavage J, Petrie W, Nunzi MG, Massari DC. Effects of phosphatidylserine in age-associated memory impairment. Neurology. 1991 May;41(5):644-9.
[10] Cenacchi T, Bertoldin T, Farina C, Fiori MG, Crepaldi G. Cognitive decline in the elderly: a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study on efficacy of phosphatidylserine administration. Aging (Milano). 1993 Apr;5(2):123-33.
[11] Crook T, Petrie W, Wells C, Massari DC. Effects of phosphatidylserine in Alzheimer’s disease. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1992;28(1):61-6.
[12] Jorissen BL, Brouns F, Van Boxtel MP, Ponds RW, Verhey FR, Jolles J, Riedel WJ. The influence of soy-derived phosphatidylserine on cognition in age-associated memory impairment. Nutr Neurosci. 2001;4(2):121-34.
[13] No reference available
[14] http://www.about-axona.com/
[15] Ramassamy C. Emerging role of polyphenolic compounds in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases: a review of their intracellular targets. Eur J Pharmacol. 2006 Sep 1;545(1):51-64.
[16] Mandel S, Weinreb O, Amit T, Youdim MB. Cell signaling pathways in the neuroprotective actions of the green tea polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate: implications for neurodegenerative diseases. J Neurochem. 2004 Mar;88(6):1555-69.
[17] Wesnes KA, Ward T, McGinty A, Petrini O.The memory enhancing effects of a Ginkgo biloba/Panax ginseng combination in healthy middle-aged volunteers. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2000 Nov;152(4):353-61.
[18] Brewer GJ, Torricelli JR, Lindsey AL, Kunz EZ, Neuman A, Fisher DR, Joseph JA. Age-related toxicity of amyloid-beta associated with increased pERK and pCREB in primary hippocampal neurons: reversal by blueberry extract. J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Oct;21(10):991-8.
[19] Wang J, Tang C, Ferruzzi MG, et al. Role of standardized grape polyphenol preparation as a novel treatment to improve synaptic plasticity through attenuation of features of metabolic syndrome in a mouse model. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Aug 21.
[20] Ramassamy C. Emerging role of polyphenolic compounds in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases: a review of their intracellular targets. Eur J Pharmacol. 2006 Sep 1;545(1):51-64.
[21] Peng J, Yuan JP, Wu CF, Wang JH. Fucoxanthin, a marine carotenoid present in brown seaweeds and diatoms: metabolism and bioactivities relevant to human health. Mar Drugs. 2011;9(10):1806-28.
[22] Pangestuti R, Vo TS, Ngo DH, Kim SK. Fucoxanthin Ameliorates Inflammation and Oxidative Reponses in Microglia. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Apr 12. This study found that fucoxanthin ameliorates oxidative stress and inflammation in amyloid-β42 (Aβ42)-induced BV2 microglia cells and thereby may protect neuronal cells from neurotoxic mediators.
[23] Sandoval M, Okuhama NN, Zhang XJ, Condezo LA, Lao J, Angeles’ FM, Musah RA, Bobrowski P, Miller MJ. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis) are independent of their alkaloid content. Phytomedicine. 2002 May;9(4):325-37.
[24] Mammone T, Akesson C, Gan D, Giampapa V, Pero RW. A water soluble extract from Uncaria tomentosa (Cat’s Claw) is a potent enhancer of DNA repair in primary organ cultures of human skin. Phytother Res. 2006 Mar;20(3):178-83.
[25] Frackowiak T, Baczek T, Roman K, Zbikowska B, Gleńsk M, Fecka I, Cisowski W. Binding of an oxindole alkaloid from Uncaria tomentosa to amyloid protein (Abeta1-40). Z Naturforsch C. 2006 Nov-Dec;61(11-12):821-6.
[26] Vepsäläinen S, Koivisto H, Pekkarinen E, et al. Anthocyanin-enriched bilberry and blackcurrant extracts modulate amyloid precursor protein processing and alleviate behavioral abnormalities in the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Jan;24(1):360-70.
[27] Patyar S, Prakash A, Modi M, Medhi B. Role of vinpocetine in cerebrovascular diseases. Pharmacol Rep. 2011;63(3):618-28.
[28] Valikovics A, Csányi A, Németh L. [Study of the effects of vinpocetin on cognitive functions]. [Article in Hungarian]. Ideggyogy Sz. 2012 Mar 30;65(3-4):115-20.
[29] Mancuso C, Bates TE, Butterfield DA, Calafato S, Cornelius C, De Lorenzo A, Dinkova Kostova AT, Calabrese V. Natural antioxidants in Alzheimer’s disease. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2007 Dec;16(12):1921-31.
[30] Gavrilova SI, Kalyn IaB, Kolykhalov IV, Roshchina IF, Selezneva ND.  [Acetyl-L-carnitine (carnicetine) in the treatment of early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia]. [Article in Russian] Zh Nevrol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova. 2011;111(9):16-22.
[31] Meador K, Loring D, Nichols M, Zamrini E, Rivner M, Posas H, Thompson E, Moore E. Preliminary findings of high-dose thiamine in dementia of Alzheimer’s type. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 1993 Oct-Dec;6(4):222-9.
[32] Mimori Y, Katsuoka H, Nakamura S. Thiamine therapy in Alzheimer’s disease. Metab Brain Dis. 1996 Mar;11(1):89-94.
[33] Annweiler C, Montero-Odasso M, Llewellyn DJ, Richard-Devantoy S, Duque G, Beauchet O. Meta-Analysis of Memory and Executive Dysfunctions in Relation to Vitamin D. J Alzheimers Dis. 2013 Jan 1;37(1):147-171.
[34]Taghizadeh M, Talaei SA, Djazayeri A, Salami M.Vitamin D supplementation restores suppressed synaptic plasticity in Alzheimer’s disease. Nutr Neurosci. 2013 Jul 23.
[35] McDonald SR, Sohal RS, Forster MJ. Concurrent administration of coenzyme Q10 and alpha-tocopherol improves learning in aged mice. Free Radic Biol Med. 2005 Mar 15;38(6):729-36.

«SPONSORED»

Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.