What is Alzheimer’s disease?
It is a slowly progressive, degenerative disorder of the brain that eventually results in abnormal brain function and death. The disease was first described by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1907 and has been diagnosed in millions of people ever since.
With Alzheimer’s disease, memory, reason, judgment, language and mental ability are eventually destroyed when nerve cells in the brain, called neurons, degenerate and die. The brain can’t replace the nerve cells, so brain function is lost.
Scientists and researchers still don’t know why Alzheimer’s disease occurs. Although age and heredity are two proven risk factors, Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be the result of a combination of elements. Diagnosis is made by careful examination of the symptoms and by eliminating other causes.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease? Alzheimer’s develops gradually, with mental changes becoming observable between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age (although cases of earlier onset exist). The duration of the disease is typically between two and eight years. The common symptoms that arise during this time include:
Early Symptoms: Memory defects, mood changes, apathy, agitation and confusion.
Late Stage Symptoms: Speech disorders, loss of motor control, epileptic type seizures, Parkinson’s type halting gait, facial or extremity paralysis and stroke.
Patients of Alzheimer’s progressively weaken as their symptoms grow in number and virulence, and eventually succumb to the disease. Death often comes in the form of pneumonia known as aspiration pneumonia. In such a case, the patient normally aspirates on food or some other substance and gets this lodged within their lungs. The lodged substance then provides a suitable breeding ground which then promotes infection and the onset of pneumonia.
What about the caregiver? The secret to good Alzheimer’s care is love. Love is the greatest resource in living with Alzheimer’s disease. Apart from all it’s other difficulties, Alzheimer’s involves a crisis of love, both on the part of the person who has the disease and on the part of all those who live with or are involved with it. With the right information, resources, and adequate support, the vast majority of Alzheimer’s caregivers can do a very good job until the affected loved one requires full-time professional care.
Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is very stressful, though. Taking things one day at a time is important advice for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The slow and unpredictable decline that may last more than a decade requires caregivers to exercise patience, understanding, compassion, and often, creativity.
What is the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease? The main goal of treatment and management of Alzheimer’s disease is to reverse or reduce the mental and behavioral process of dementia. Most drugs, including the few currently available, are designed to treat some of the manifestations of the disease. None offers a cure of Alzheimer’s disease itself.
10 Warning Signs of Early Alzheimer’s Disease
* Recent memory loss that affects job skills. It’s normal to forget people’s names from time to time, but frequent forgetfulness is cause for concern.
* Difficulty performing familiar tasks. Anyone can leave a button unbuttoned. But when someone becomes persistently challenged by buttons, or other tasks of daily living that most people take for granted, it might signal Alzheimer’s.
* Language problems. From time to time, anyone can have difficulty finding the right word. But for people with Alzheimer’s, simple words present problems, and sentences can become incomprehensible.
* Time and place disorientation. It’s normal to forget the date or a destination. But people with Alzheimer’s often feel lost standing across the street from their homes.
* Loss of judgment. Anyone can fail to notice that an item of clothing is stained. But when someone dresses completely inappropriately?– wearing several shirts or mistaking underwear for a hat?– that’s cause for concern.
* Problems with abstract thinking. Anyone can struggle over balancing a checkbook. People with Alzheimer’s forget what numbers are for and how to use them.
* Misplacing things. Anyone can misplace a wallet or keys. But when someone puts a wallet in the refrigerator, or keys in the sink, that might signal Alzheimer’s.
* Changes in mood or behavior. Changing moods are a fact of life. But people with Alzheimer’s often exhibit rapid mood changes?– from calm to tears to rage?– for no apparent reason.
* Changes in personality. People often become more “crotchety” as they get older. But Alzheimer’s often makes people paranoid, very confused, or fearful.
* Loss of initiative. It’s normal to get bored with daily activities. But when people lose much of their get-up-and-go, that’s cause for concern.
As recently as the 1960s, Alzheimer’s was considered a rare disorder. Today it’s recognized as the leading cause of age-related dementia, a broad medical term that refers to the loss of cognitive functions such as thinking, remembering, and making decisions. Alzheimer’s disease causes dementia by attacking nerve cells in the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. As more and more cells are destroyed, patients lose their memories and their ability to reason and communicate. Their personalities and behavior change. Eventually, they require total care. Once symptoms begin, the disease runs its course in from two to 15 years, with seven to eight years being the average. Sometimes the decline is more gradual. People with Alzheimer’s have been known to live for more than 20 years.
Today, the cause remains unknown and there is no cure. But because researchers are beginning to unravel the mystery that is Alzheimer’s, there is reason to be optimistic. As they identify risk factors and uncover clues about the causes, researchers are beginning to understand how the brain responds to the chemical and structural damage brought on by the disease. Their findings are leading the way to new methods for diagnosing and treating the disease, and perhaps one day for preventing it. Two drugs that help slow the mental deterioration in the early stages are on the pharmacy shelves. Many more drugs are under development (see Treating Alzheimer’s). As Roger Rosenberg, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, told Newsweek: “We don’t have the penicillin for Alzheimer’s yet, but it’s coming.”
Who has Alzheimer’s?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging, about 4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s. It typically afflicts people over 60, but in rare cases people in their 40s and 50s can develop the disease. According to a large survey of retired people, about 3% of those aged 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s. The figure rises to 19% for those aged 75 to 84, and to 47% for those 85 and older. Since the elderly population is growing rapidly, some estimates say that, unless a cure or prevention is found, there will be 14 million sufferers in the U.S. alone by the middle of the next century.
Despite its prevalence among the elderly, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. While some memory loss is normal as we age, the losses in reasoning and functioning that come with Alzheimer’s are not. Alzheimer’s is an abnormal condition that targets the rich and poor, famous and ordinary. Today’s most prominent victim is former President Ronald Reagan. His battle with the disease led to the establishment of the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute of the Alzheimer’s Association. Other famous sufferers include British Prime Minister and statesman Winston Churchill and actress Rita Hayworth.
Aluminum accumulation in the brain greatly contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Abnormal fingerprint patterns are associated with both Alzheimer’s Disease and Down’s syndrome with an increased number of ulnar loops on the fingertips with a decrease in whorls, radial loops and arches.
From the perspective of natural medicine, the primary goals of intervention involve prevention by addressing suspected disease processes (e.g., aluminum and free-radical damage) and using natural measures to improve mental function in the early stages of the disease.
There is evidence to suggest that antioxidant nutrients offer significant protection against Alzheimer’s disease as well as therapeutic benefits.
Aluminum absorption can be decreased by magnesium, as magnesium competes with aluminum for absorption, not only in the intestines but also at the blood/brain barrier.
A significant percentage of the geriatric population are deficient in one or more of the B-vitamins where low levels are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Zinc supplementation is demonstrating good results in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
The results of using L-acetyl-carnitine to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease have been outstanding.
DHEA shows promise in enhancing memory and improving mental function in the elderly.
Although preliminary studies involving established Alzheimer’s patients are quite promising, at this time it appears that GBE only helps reverse or delay mental deterioration during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B12 and Zinc deficiencies are also noted in the literature.
Reduced blood supply to the brain.
The trace mineral Rubidium has been found to very low in the elderly with poor cognitive skills and is found at normal levels in the elderly with good cognitive skills
Congealing of the brain tissues has been seen on MRI studies in Alzheimer’s patients suggesting a Sulfur and Vitamin C deficiency.
Must check axillary temperatures to make sure metabolism is optimum. Temperatures should be betwen 97.6 & 98.2.
Need to have a heavy metal evaluation via a 24 hour urine heavy metal challenge to rule out heavy metal overload.
Females check female hormone levels, especially estriol and males check male hormone testosterone. Optimizing sex hormone levels has been shown to reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s early in the diagnosis.
The primary therapeutic goal is either prevention or to begin therapy as soon as any dementia is noted.
Diet and Lifestyle
1. Avoid aluminum (found in many anti- perspirants, antacids, and cookware).
2. On a 21-day trial basis, eliminate all dairy products (except butter) and gluten-containing grains. If improvement is not noted, they can be returned to the diet on a limited basis.
3. Try to eliminate refined carbohydrates, canned foods, and processed foods.
4. Eliminate hydrogenated fats and oils.
5. Use only extra virgin olive oil, fish oils and coconut oil as your only sources of oils.
6. Drink 2 to 3 ounces of filtered spring water every 30 minutes while awake.
7. Avoid flu shots. Also must avoid all neurotoxins such as NutraSweet (Aspartame), Splenda (Sucralose), MSG and other flavor enhancers such as TVP (textured vegetable protein).
NOTE: I know the following are a lot of supplements but then Alzheimer’s is a nasty condition. These nutrient concentrates have been shown to have positive medical attributes into preventing, treating & stabilizing this condition.
1. BIO-MULTI PLUS Iron Free – 1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals.
2. BIO-C PLUS 1000 – 1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals.
3. M S M POWDER – 1/2 teaspoonful 4 times daily. Very Important!
4. BIOMEGA-3 – 4 – 5 capsules, twice daily after meals for 1 month, then 4 – 5 capsules once daily thereafter M – F of the week.
Specific Nutrients: Alzheimer’s patients will probably have to remain on all the nutrients suggested here.
5. E-MULSION 200 – 2 capsules daily
6. PHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE – 3 capsules, 3 times daily with meals
7. NUCLEZYME FORTE – 1 capsule, 3 times daily with meals
8. CoQ-ZYME 30 – 1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals.
9. RB-ZYME (Rubidium) – 2 tablets, 3 times daily with meals
10. GINKO BILOBA – 2 tablets, 3 times daily with meals
11. B12 LOZENGES – Chew 1 tablet 3 times daily after meals.
12. LIPOIC ACID – 2 capsules, 3 times daily after meals.
13. PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE – 3 capsules, once daily after a meal.
14. ACETYL-L-CARNITINE 500mg – 2 capsules, once daily after a meal.
15, N A C (N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine) 500mg – 2 capsules, once daily after a meal.
16. DHEA 10 mg – 2 tablets daily in the morning.
17. ARMOUR’S DESICCATED THYROID – Take as directed to optimize axillary temperatures.
18. EDTA CHELATION THERAPY – Use as directed to reduce heavy metal overload.
19. VINPOCETINE 10mg – 1 tablet, twice daily after meals
20. MELATONIN 3 mg – 1 tablet daily at bedtime.
BOOKS: Tom Warren’s book BEATING ALZHEIMER’S available from Amazon.com