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…

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 puzzles. Good online source:
  • Listening to inspiring authors such as Esther Hicks ( Wayne Dyer, Michael Beckwith, or others—to focus on feeling good in your relationships and perspective

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Nutrients that thwart memory robbers

Many nutrients 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.
  • Phosphatidylcholine (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

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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.

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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 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.

Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!

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[13] No reference available
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[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.
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.