Did you know that so-called “incurable” neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed, if not also partially reversed? Regeneration, after all, is the default state of the human body.
This may sound all the more surprising when you consider that over 1,000 clinical trials have been performed, and billions of dollars expended, in order find an effective solution, without any significant progress in reversing the underlying trajectory of the condition.[i]
In fact, some of the very same patented chemicals approved by the FDA to “treat” the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, e.g. donepizl (trade name Aricept), are chemically related to insecticides, chemical weapons and venom, and are notorious for greatly increasing the risk of seizures in those to whom they are prescribed.
Back in 2006, a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) found that a class of compounds found within turmeric known as curcuminoids enhance the amyloid-beta uptake of macrophages within Alzheimer’s disease patients. Amyloid-beta (Abeta) plaque is found in unnaturally elevated levels in neurodegenerative disorders such as AD, and is believed to contribute to the underlying disease process.[ii]
In the study, researchers treated the macrophages of six AD patients and 3 controls by curcuminoids and measured the Abeta uptake. The results were as follows:
After treatment of macrophages with curcuminoids, Abeta uptake by macrophages of three of the six AD patients was significantly (P<0.001 to 0.081) increased.
Immunomodulation of the innate immune system by curcuminoids might be a safe approach to immune clearance of amyloidosis in AD brain.
While these two studies are amazing, they are not novel. In fact, we have identified 30 studies in total which show the potential value of curcuminoids in Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment. These study abstracts can be viewed in full on our Alzheimer’s disease page.
Curcumin is, in fact, only one of several natural compounds and/or therapeutic modalities with promising anti-Alzheimer’s activity. Others include:
Coconut Oil (MCTs): Alzheimer’s disease is associated with a pathological decrease in brain glucose, the brain’s principal source of energy. In 2006, a study was published in the journal of Neurobiology of Aging, involving subjects with mild cognitive impairment who were given an oral dose of medium chain triglycerides. When tested 90 minutes later, subjects showed increased cognitive performance, believed to be associated with increased ketone bodies and their brain-metabolism enhancing effects.[iii]
Alpha-Lipoic Acid: A 2007 study published in the Journal of Neural Transmission found alpha-lipoic acid “dramatically lowers” disease progression in Alzheimer’s disease patients who received 600 mg a day for 12 months.[iv]
B-Complex: A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found B-complex to slow cognitive and clinical decline in people with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers noted that homocysteine is a risk factor for AD and that B vitamins may slow brain atrophy by suppressing homocysteine accumulation. [v]
Alpha-GPC: A 2003 study published in the journal Clinical Therapeutics found that the cholinergic precursors choline and lecithin (phosphatidylcholine) in the form of choline alfoscerate (Alpha-GPC), and naturally found in neuronal membranes, was tolerable and effective in the treatment of the cognitive symptoms of dementia disorders of the Alzheimer type.[vi]
Gingko Biloba: In 2006 the European Journal of Neurology published the results of a 24-week randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study showing an extract of this plant was as effective as Aricept (donepezil) for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. [vii] Another study published in 2009 found that it was as effective as Aricept in improving symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but with less side effects.[viii]
Saffron: A 2009 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found that 22-weeks of saffron supplementation compared favorably to Aricept in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.[ix]
The Mediterranean diet – The Mediterranean diet is one of the most extensively research therapeutic diets known in the scientific literature. There are over 50 diseases that have been studied to be mitigated or prevented through employing the Mediterranean Diet. A 2011 study published in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics found that adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet could be associated with slower cognitive decline, reduced risk of progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), reduced risk of AD and a decreased all-cause mortality in AD patients.[x] Another 2007 study found lower mortality in Alzheimer’s disease patients consuming a Mediterranean diet.[xi]
Vitamin E – A 2009 study published in 2009 in the journal Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders found that vitamin E use is associated with improved survival in an Alzheimer’s disease cohort.[xii]
[ii] Curcuminoids enhance amyloid-beta uptake by macrophages of Alzheimer’s disease patients. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Sep;10(1):1-7.
[iii] Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Mar 22;54(6):2123-8.
[iv] Alpha-lipoic acid as a new treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease–a 48 months follow-up analysis. J Neural Transm Suppl. 2007;(72):189-93.
[v] Cognitive and clinical outcomes of homocysteine-lowering B-vitamin treatment in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Jul 21. Epub 2011 Jul 21.
[vi] Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Ther. 2003 Jan;25(1):178-93.
[viii] Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761(R), donepezil or both combined in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with neuropsychiatric features: a randomised, double-blind, exploratory trial. Aging Ment Health. 2009 Mar;13(2):183-90.
[ix] A 22-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind controlled trial of Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Jan;207(4):637-43. Epub 2009 Oct 20.
[x] Diet and Alzheimer’s disease risk factors or prevention: the current evidence. Expert Rev Neurother. 2011 May ;11(5):677-708.
[xii] Vitamin E use is associated with improved survival in an Alzheimer’s disease cohort. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2009;28(6):536-40. Epub 2009 Dec 10.
Article Contributed by Sayer Ji, Founder of GreenMedInfo.com.
Sayer Ji is an author, researcher, lecturer, and advisory board member of the National Health Federation. He founded Greenmedinfo.com in 2008 in order to provide the world an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities. It is internationally recognized as the largest and most widely referenced health resource of its kind.