You might be surprised to learn that there are plenty of medications to treat Alzheimer’s. The FDA has approved five of them.
They are Aricept (donepezil), Razadyne (galantamine), Namenda (memantine), Exelon (rivastigmine), and Namzaric (donepezil and memantine).
The reason you probably haven’t heard of them is that they don’t work very well. These drugs do nothing to stop the underlying disease—or even slow it down. All they do is mask the symptoms. And for many patients, they don’t even do that.
One study found that donepezil actually accelerates cognitive decline in some patients.
What’s more, these medications often come with side effects that include diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, and insomnia.
Dr. Dale Bredesen is a professor of medical pharmacology at UCLA and author of the best-selling book The End of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Bredesen believes he knows why these drugs are ineffective.
It’s because Alzheimer’s attacks the brain on multiple fronts. But medications may fight the disease on just one of them.
He says a brain with Alzheimer’s is like a leaky roof.
“Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well,” Dr. Bredesen said. “The drug may have worked. A single ‘hole’ may have been fixed. But you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.”
That’s why Dr. Bredesen believes the best treatment approach is multifaceted. The brain has many parts and functions. Dr. Bredesen believes the more of them you strengthen, the better chance you have against Alzheimer’s.
“We think addressing multiple targets within the molecular network may be additive, or even synergistic,” he said.
The Holistic Approach to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Dr. Bredesen has successfully treated Alzheimer’s patients using a holistic approach. His diet, exercise, supplement, and sleep recommendations not only improve your brain, they can help your overall health.
“It is noteworthy that the major side effects of this therapeutic system are improved health and improved body mass index, a stark contrast to the side effects of many drugs,” he said.
In his lab, Dr. Bredesen personalizes his protocol to each patient. To find out more, go to his website HERE. Below are eight brain-protection strategies based on his program:
1.) Optimize your diet: Start by cutting out sugar. This is the most important dietary step you can take to help your brain. Stay away from syrups and foods with added sugars, such as juices.
Avoid grains, pasta, potatoes, and all processed foods.
Eat more healthy fats. These include avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, raw nuts, coconut oil, pastured eggs, wild-caught fish, and grass-fed meat. Cut out corn, canola, sunflower, and soybean oils.
2.) Reduce stress: Cortisol, a hormone released when you’re under stress, can reduce the size of the hippocampus. Stress reduction can mean different things for different people. Simply put, you want to remove things from your life that increase your stress and add things that make you calm.
For some people, this means reducing work hours, avoiding conflict with others, doing yoga, meditation, praying, doing deep breathing, or taking time to sit alone and listen to music.
3.) Optimize sleep: Get at least seven—preferably eight—hours of sleep a night.
Natural sleep aids used by patients in Dr. Bredesen’s protocol include melatonin (0.5 to 1 mg), L-tryptophan (500 mg), and 5-hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP (100 mg) taken at bedtime.
4.) Get your heart rate up: Almost all kinds of exercise are good for your cognition, but Dr. Bredesen believes the most beneficial forms are those that make your heart beat faster, increasing blood flood to your brain.
Dr. Bredesen recommends 30 minutes or more of exercise, at least four days a week. This can be any form of cardio, including running, cycling, rowing, elliptical, swimming, basketball, step training, etc. The important thing is that you do a strenuous workout to get your heart beating fast.
He believes you should aim to sustain your heart rate at these levels during your workout:
Age 40…………90-153 beats per minute
Age 45…………88-149 beats per minute
Age 50…………85-145 beats per minute
Age 55…………83-140 beats per minute
Age 60…………80-136 beats per minute
Age 65…………78-132 beats per minute
Age 70…………75-128 beats per minute
6.) Cut homocysteine: Homocysteine is a common amino acid in your blood. Doctors aren’t sure why, but elevated levels are linked to brain shrinkage. Your doctor can give you a homocysteine test to determine your level. You want a reading that is less than 6 micromoles/liter.
If it is higher, taking certain B vitamins can reduce homocysteine. Take B6 (20 mg a day), B12 (1 mg), and folate (0.8 mg).
7.) Reduce inflammation: Inflammation is your brain’s enemy. And one marker of inflammation is C-reactive protein or CRP. High levels of CRP are strongly linked to Alzheimer’s.
Ask your doctor to test your CRP level. It should be less than 1.0 mg/L. If it’s higher, take two daily supplements: curcumin (1,000 mg) and omega-3 (follow label directions).
8.) Repair your gut: A study of 52 Alzheimer’s patients showed their mental abilities improved after taking a probiotic supplement.
Dr. Bredesen recommends his patients take a probiotic and get prebiotics through their diet. Prebiotics are fiber that act as food for your good probiotic bacteria.
Look for a supplement that has at least six different strains of bacteria and contains at least 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) per serving.
You can also boost your gut health naturally by getting probiotics in the form of fermented foods such as yogurt (make sure there’s no added sugar) and kefir, and pickled vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi. Look for unpasteurized versions. Heat destroys the good bacteria.
Foods high in prebiotics include garlic, onions, leeks, jicama, asparagus, and bananas. Eat at least one of these foods every day.
Real Hope in the War on Alzheimer’s
If you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, your doctor will likely respond in one of two ways.
You’ll be told there’s no effective treatment…so try to stay busy and make the best of the time you have left.
Or you’ll be given a drug that does nothing to change the course of the illness. It may help keep your mind sharper in the short term, but at the risk of miserable side effects.
The fact is, conventional medicine offers practically nothing to prevent Alzheimer’s or even slow its progress.
Now, for the first time, there is real hope—even for people already exhibiting symptoms.
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