Alzheimer’s. The thought of the disease is chilling. For anyone who has ever had a family member diagnosed with this debilitating condition, there’s a very real sense of desperation in finding some way – any way – of preventing or curing this disease. And it’s not just for the sake of the afflicted person. Many people live with a palpable fear that “they will be next.” Unfortunately, statistics don’t provide much hope.
How Prevalent is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)?
- 6th leading cause of mortality in the U.S.
- 3 Million Americans have AD
- Someone develops AD every 70 seconds
What Changes in the Brain?
Plaques and tangles are:
- Clusters of a protein called beta amyloid
- Clumps of dead and dying nerve and brain cells
- They interfere with signals between brain cells. Inflammation makes the problem worse.
- No Conventional Cure
Pharmaceutical interventions have had limited success. There are currently two classes of drugs that target the decline in brain function of AD. Some doctors even recommend against their use because they believe the cost and risks outweigh potential benefits. They are not a cure.
Natural Solutions for Alzheimer’s
Curcumin, the compound from turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been the subject of numerous studies exploring how it can slow – and possibly reverse – the progression of AD.
Curcumin protects brain cells from damaging inflammation. It has been shown to reduce the beta amyloid levels and shrink the size of accumulated plaques that interfere with brain cell signals by over 30% in experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have shown that curcumin plays a role in regenerating neurons, creating new brain cells and refreshing cells that may have once been considered irretrievable.
A clinical trial at the McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation (supporting research at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia) is focused on learning more on the benefits of curcumin for treating AD. In this ground- breaking study, a specialized, highly absorbable form of curcumin is being administered to patients with mild to moderate dementia in order to learn more about how curcumin can be used as an effective treatment of AD. The curcumin they are using is the one I recommend. It is blended with turmeric oil to naturally boost absorption. Prepared in this manner, curcumin has been shown to cross the blood/brain barrier, meaning it can reach brain cells, something not every substance can do. Standard curcumin extracts are not well absorbed, so the type you use can make a significant difference.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is synthesized by our bodies when our skin is exposed to and absorbs sunlight.
By age 65, changes to our skin – regardless of color – reduce our ability to produce vitamin D by up to 60%.
Low levels of vitamin D at age 65 mean you are twice as likely to experience mental decline. A clinical study published in the journal Neurology showed frightening numbers:
Adult volunteers with even moderate vitamin D deficiencies had a 53% increased risk of dementia and a 69% increased risk for Alzheimer’s.
Severe deficiencies showed a 125% risk of dementia and a 122% risk of Alzheimer’s.
Rosemary and Spanish Sage Concentrated Plant Oils
3. Concentrated plant oils
Concentrated plant oils are powerful medicine. Oils from rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Spanish sage (Salvia lavandulifolia) plants have a long history of use as aids to enhancing memory and learning.
Both rosemary and Spanish sage are important botanicals that preserve acetylcholine, a messenger in the brain that supports memory and learning. Low levels of acetylcholine are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Glutathione: Strong Protection
Glutathione is the body’s “master antioxidant” synthesized from glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid. But glutathione levels drop off with age – sometimes dramatically – and that’s when we need them the most. By age 40, we are making 30 percent less, and by 65, as much as 50 percent less — and that is in healthy individuals. Glutathione protects brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease research and studies of mild cognitive impairment have focused on its potential to inhibit these conditions. In fact, a recent study entitled “Elevation of glutathione as a therapeutic strategy in Alzheimer’s disease” concludes: “Increasing glutathione remains a promising therapeutic strategy to slow or prevent MCI and Alzheimer’s disease.” Supplementation with effective glutathione can play an important role in prevention, or slowing the progression of this disease.
But getting the right form of glutathione is crucial. Intravenous (IV) glutathione, while effective, costs thousands of dollars. Many oral supplemental forms of glutathione become oxidized in the body by the digestive process. And oxidized glutathione not only becomes useless to fighting disease, but can actually create free-radical damage. Rather than oxidized glutathione, what you really want is active glutathione, otherwise known as “reduced” glutathione. A new form that I recommend combines glutathione with protective antioxidants to preserve it from oxidation.
Hope for the Future
The more we learn about this devastating disease, the better we will be able to discover the links between diet, exercise, and natural medicines that can make a tremendous impact. My hope is that in the very near future, we will continue to learn how high-absorption curcumin, vitamin D, rosemary, Spanish sage, and glutathione can help slow – and even reverse – the damage caused by this illness.
Terry Lemerond Author and Educator, has 40 years experience in the health food industry as an owner of several health food stores and nutritional manufacturing companies. Follow him at Terry Talks Nutrition.