Treatments

Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

Current Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment has not, as yet, provided the successful solution to this debilitating and fatal condition.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of Dementia that is defined by the National Institute of Ageing as “the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.”

For more information on the risk factors, diagnostic criteria and signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, see the Mindd Condition Profile for “Alzheimer’s Disease”.

Slowing the Progress of Cognitive Decline

It is essential to consider how the progression of cognitive decline can be delayed, as those who have cognitive decline are at higher risk of developing dementia. Approximately 50% of individuals who develop mild cognitive impairment develop Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

Physiological changes associated with the development of neurodegenerative disorders like AD, such as increased biomarkers for oxidative stress and inflammation, indicate that there are lifestyle and dietary contributing factors. Literature also demonstrates that mitochondrial dysfunction has a role to play in cognitive decline.

From a naturopathic and integrative health healthcare perspective, the following concepts are essential to understanding, in the treatment and prevention of cognitive decline,

Reducing Oxidative Stress and Neuroinflammation

Oxidative stress is associated with multiple diseases and is very much implicated in the pathogenesis of AD, as studies suggest that before the abnormal formation of amyloid plaques present in AD, mitochondrial dysfunction and increased oxidation is evident.

In cognitive decline, free radicals damage cells over time and may eventually cause cell death. Our natural defense mechanisms should ordinarily prevent cellular destruction from oxidative reactions. However, when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and antioxidants, the body may be unable to counteract the damage. Therefore, antioxidant status is critical to consider in cognitive decline, as well as a reduction in free radical damage.

Dietary supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) has also been shown to enhance oxidative defenses, most likely because CoQ10 is crucial in the mitochondrial electron transport chain and protects neuronal cells from oxidative damage. CoQ10 also can reduce amyloid pathology.

Avoid Harmful Diet and Lifestyle Choices

Harmful dietary habits and lifestyle choices have all been reported as crucial contributors to oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain, therefore increasing the likelihood of cognitive decline. The following suggestions are the highest priorities to avoid:

  • a low fiber diet
  • a low antioxidant diet
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • consuming alcohol
  • smoking
  • environmental chemicals

Vitamin D in Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

The role of vitamin D in preventing cognitive decline has been well documented, and a deficiency in vitamin D can increase your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease by three times. Vitamin D is neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory, meaning it may have the ability to reduce vascular damage and oxidative stress in the brain.

Nutrition in Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

In the past 10-15 years, multiple research papers have demonstrated the relationship between poor diet and the incidence of disease. Diet-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and obesity have also been associated with cognitive decline, meaning the role of nutrition in the health of the brain should not be taken lightly.

  1. The Mediterranean Diet

    Amongst the existing styles of eating, it is the Mediterranean diet that has shown to be the most useful in the prevention of AD, which correlates with the link between oxidative damage and AD. The Mediterranean diet owes its success to its high intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, many plant fibers, polyphenols and essential fatty acids which are extremely crucial for antioxidant status and therefore brain health. Essential fatty acids, in particular, can impressively increase the clearance of amyloid peptides and protects the structure of neuronal membranes. Also, essential fatty acids such as EPA and DHA have triglyceride lowering properties which may help regarding the cardiovascular and metabolic pathogenesis of AD. Studies have demonstrated that patients with cognitive impairment can be treated with a high intake of essential fatty acids.

  2. Curcumin

    Curcumin, which is an active compound found in the spice turmeric, has been well established as brain supportive. Curcumin is exceptionally anti-inflammatory and possesses antioxidant activity, making it a useful treatment for neuroinflammation and oxidative stress and Alzheimer’s treatment. As well as this, the low molecular weight of curcumin allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier and bind to beta-amyloid proteins, break them up and inhibit further accumulation.

  3. Coconut oil

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that coconut oil has a beneficial use in the prevention of AD, due to its ability to provide the brain with ketones, which are used as fuel instead of glucose. Individuals have noted significant improvements to their memory by adding coconut oil to their diet. The current school of thought is that the principal ketones produced could provide damaged brain cells a main physiological alternative source of energy, as they may have lost their ability to use glucose. A small animal study demonstrated this by experimenting with high concentrations of amyloid beta protein and coconut oil – finding that coconut oil could improve cell survival by approximately 20-30%. Although this has been hypothesized, more long-term and clinically tested evidence is needed to understand the exact mechanism and effectiveness of coconut oil before it can be implemented as a treatment for AD.

Exercise for Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment and Prevention

The effect of exercise as a preventative mechanism for AD has been long studied, and the results consistently show that exercise can positively instigate changes in the way that AD progresses

Those who exercised regularly had lower levels of the plaques and tangles that are usually present in AD, therefore a much lower risk of developing the disorder. Exercise also decreases the number and severity of risk factors for AD that an individual may have such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

Exercise’s mechanism of action as a preventative of cognitive decline lies in its ability to enhance the endurance of cells and tissues to oxidative stress, increase energy metabolism, neurotrophic synthesis (proteins that generate the development and function of neurons), all of which play pivotal roles in brain plasticity, memory recall, and neurogenesis.

These processes are advantageous in the prevention of AD and should be utilized to reduce the impacts of age-associated neurodegenerative disorders. An Australian study showed that resistance training might be the most promising form of exercise for preventing cognitive decline.

Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment and Future Options

In summary, it is crucial to view the pathology of cognitive decline and consequently dementia as a result of neuroinflammation, excessive oxidative damage and poor nutrition status. The factors which impact these biomarkers such as stress, low antioxidant intake, smoking, alcohol, environmental chemicals, and nutritional deficiencies should make up a large part of any treatment of cognitive decline. The Mediterranean diet, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and CoQ10 have positively demonstrated their roles in brain health, and their intake should be assessed accordingly. Research is now focusing more intently on the role of nutrition and lifestyle choices in AD, a much-needed change to what is typically a gloomy prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease in the future.

For more information on the risk factors, diagnostic criteria and signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, see the Mindd Condition Profile for “Alzheimer’s Disease”.

 

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/oxidative-stress
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28522216
  3. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/cognitive-impairment/#_edn5
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4153851/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5127208/
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163716301027
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267988/
    https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/mediterranean-diet-may-slow-development-alzheimers-disease
  8. Sarris, J. & Wardle J. (2014). Clinical Naturopathy, an evidence-based guide to practice
  9. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/07/ashwaganda-effect-on-alzheimers-disease.aspx
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4812200/
  11. https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2016/10/25/increasing-muscle-strength-can-improve-brain-function–study.html
  12. https://www.dementia.org.au/sites/default/files/16122013_Edition22_DN.pdf

 

Mindd Foundation