Alzheimer’s disease affects over 5 million patients in the United States and 30 million worldwide. Recent estimates suggest that Alzheimer’s is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. Women are affected more than men, such that a woman’s chance of developing the disease is now greater than her chance of developing breast cancer.
There is currently no medication that effectively treats the disease despite billions of dollars spent on research. In a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the journal Aging, Dale Bredesen, MD, director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA reports on case studies using a personalized therapeutic program that involves multiple modalities designed to achieve metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration.
Each patient was treated in an individualized way based on lab results obtained at the beginning of the study. All patients followed a diet that eliminated simple carbohydrates and processed foods, and increased fruit and vegetable consumption. They fasted for a minimum of three hours between dinner and bedtime, and for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. They exercised on a regular basis and tried to sleep as close to eight hours as possible, taking melatonin if needed. Some patients added meditation and relaxation to address stress. Additional supplementation, sometimes extensive, was given to the patients based on their lab results. Many of the patients received vitamin D, coQ10, probiotics, fish oil, active B vitamins, and antioxidants. For a complete list of supplements, see the full study here. Some patients received hormone replacement therapy, again based on lab results.
Of the ten patients Bredesen treated, nine displayed improvement in cognition within three to six months. The one patient who did not improve had a very late stage Alzheimer’s disease, which may explain the lack of response. Of the six patients who had discontinued working or were struggling with their work, all of them experienced improved performance and could return to work or continue working.
“Results from the ten patients reported here suggest that memory loss in patients with subjective cognitive impairment, mild cognitive impairment, and at least the early phase of Alzheimer’s disease, may be reversed, and improvement sustained, with the therapeutic program described here,” noted Bredesen. “However, at the current time the results are anecdotal, and therefore a more extensive, controlled clinical trial is warranted.”
Although the protocol was not easy to follow, these patients were aware of the poor prognosis of their disease and that the cognitive decline was, for the most part, untreatable, so they were motivated to adhere to the treatment.
Dr. Bredesen is a pioneer in his field. His personalized approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease is commendable. His work is similar to the work done by other functional medicine doctors like Dr. David Perlmutter. More studies are needed to help bring such treatments to more doctors around the country so that we can finally get to the root cause of the imbalances that lead to such chronic diseases as Alzheimer’s.