In this paper, I will analyze and discuss the current research on Alzheimer’s disease. I personally find any research on brain health fascinating because I work with children to reverse ADHD, OCD, Tourette’s, autism, and sensory issues. I find that the brain can manifest several different symptoms. I see how the same common treatments can reverse main brain disorders.
Also, my grandfather died of Alzheimer’s disease. I did not get to know him very well, but I remember seeing him when he was very sick and his condition was very progressed. I remember him only remembering events from being on the farm many years prior and the kids when they were young. He did not know who any of the family was. It is sad for me to see anyone finish their life confined to a hospital bed and not in control of their own life. To me, dying in this way is the worst fate. Death is not escapable. However, I like to think of a beautiful goal towards the end of life is “finishing the race well” meaning that someone can age still feeling mentally sharp and vibrant. With the current research in preventing and reversing disease, this can be a reality for many people.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease. The damage begins almost a decade before symptoms begin. Increased age is the biggest risk factor. Symptoms include memory loss that go beyond mild cognitive impairment that is considered normal for aging individuals. They may also experience loss of senses such as smell and mobility issues. Other symptoms include vision impairment, spatial issues, and impaired judgement. Alzheimer’s is considered a secondary tauopathy and was discovered by Alois Alzheimer.
At the mild stage of the disease, some people wander and get lost. They struggle to handle responsibilities such as finances. They repeat questions often and can take longer to complete normal tasks. In the moderate stage, language control, sensory processing, reasoning, and conscious thoughts are disrupted due to brain damage. Memory loss and confusion increases. At this stage, it becomes difficult to recognize family and friends. They may also need help getting dressed. It can become difficult to take them to new situations as they experience paranoia and delusions. Finally, in the severe stage of Alzheimer’s, the brain tissue shrinks more, which leaves people unable to communicate. They need others to care for them, and eventually, the body shuts down.
Alzheimer’s disease initially affects people typically in their mid-60s. It is currently estimated to affect 5.5 million people. The specific cause has not been fully determined. Scientists believe that there is a genetic link to who is at risk for early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In the cases of late onset, many brain changes occur overtime. In both cases however, epigenetics research shows that diet and lifestyle can turn certain genes on or off in terms of disease. So, though Alzheimer’s disease is currently considered irreversible, there are many opportunities with future holistic options to treat the condition. Therefore, it is important to minimize lifestyle, environmental, and diet triggers of disease.
The biochemical cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not completely understood, but it is described as a protein misfolding in the brain. This occurs due to an accumulation of misfolded amyloid beta protein. Amyloid beta proteins are short peptides that are proteolytic byproducts of a transmembrane protein amyloid precursor protein (APP). These APPs are involved in neuronal development. At the tertiary level, the beta-sheet can form amyloid fibrils, which can create what is known as senile or neuritic plaques. These can deposit in the blood vessels of the brain. This process is call amyloid angiopathy.
Alzheimer’s disease also classifies as a tauopathy, a type of neurodegenerative disease associated with the accumulation of tau protein in gliofibrillary tangles. The tangles form through hyperphosphorylation. Through this, the tau protein disassociates from microtubules and creates insoluble aggregates. These formations are called paired helical filaments. The tangles disrupt axon transport and neural communication. The number of neurofibrillary tangles determines the degree of the disease and are referred to as Braak stages. In Braak stage I and II, the tangles are found mainly in the transentorhinal region of the brain. Then, in stage III and IV, the tangles are in the limbic and hippocampus regions as well. Finally, in stage V and VI, there is cerebral cortex damage. However, research is still unclear as to whether the tangles are the primary cause of the disease.
Currently, the conventional treatments for Alzheimer’s attempt to slow the progression of the disease down, but they do not reverse the condition. They temporarily improve symptoms of memory loss and thinking. These boost the chemical messengers in the brain that carry information between the cells. The common treatment involves medication, but brain cells still die through this treatment. The medication are cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. The current drugs aim to target the beta-amyloid plaques from the brain. These slow the progression of the disease and slow mental decline. However, these conventional treatments cannot reverse the condition. The treatment has monoclonal antibodies that act as the antibodies typical in the immune response of the body. Also, researchers created drugs that inhibit Fyn. Fyn is a protein that destroys connections between nerve cells in the brain when over-activated and interacts with the beta-amyloid cells. An example of this is saracatinib, which was a drug originally created for cancer treatment. Some other therapies can reduce the amount of beta-amyloid production. The drugs in testing inhibit the activity of enzymes that create the parent proteins. Even vaccines are in clinical trial to inhibit tau aggregation. Therefore, conventional treatment has made promising options for patients, but there is a long way to go to determine the root cause of the disorder and a complete cure.
One research study in the New England Journal of Medicine, regarding Alzheimer’s disease discusses the TREM2 variants in mice. The mutations in TREM2 have been associated with autosomal recessive early-onset Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In the study, the researchers used Sanger sequencing to determine the variability in the gene. They had 1092 Alzheimer’s patients and 1107 control participants. They completed a meta-analysis on the data. The R47H variant was genotyped with further cases and controls. Finally, the scientists assayed the TREM2 across the brain regions. This helped to see the different genes that were expressed. The results found large amounts of variation in the TREM2 of Alzheimer’s patients compared to the controls. There were 22 allele differences, but the most common one was rs75932628. The meta-analysis strongly linked this allele and Alzheimer’s disease. The study was well put together and conducted with enough patients and controls to provide significant information. However, these variants tend to be rare in individuals and the study did not provide human information. Therefore, more information is needed to determine how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other common causes of the condition.
Another research study from the American Neurological Association discussed the white matter hyperintensities of the brain and Alzheimer’s disease. These hyperintensities were shown to appear approximately six years before the onset of symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease. The results also indicated that these white matter hyperintensities are a major part in the disease and something researchers plan to target for treatment. The study included about three hundred people that had an average age of 40. Some had the mutation, and first-degree relatives were used as controls. MRI data was used to determine the mutations and the time between the mutations and onset of symptoms. This study could have been larger to gather more data, but it provides solid data in regards to indicators of the disease.
A third research study from the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology discusses the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease. Three genes have been linked to the causes of the neurodegeneration. These are APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2. There is also a genetic risk factor APOEε4 allele. It discusses the basis of diagnosis through clinical history and a neurological examination. The Mini-Mental State Examination is one of the main tests that can evaluate a person’s cognitive changes. The study offered good information looking at the genetic variation that could predispose a person to Alzheimer’s disease and important brain markers to look at. The study could have offered more information for prevention, but it had a large amount of data over several years. Therefore, it was a quality study.
A fourth study from the Mt. Sinai Journal of Medicine discusses the spectrum of severity in Alzheimer’s disease. It discusses the importance of early screening and intervention to prevent mental decline and minimize the stress of caregivers who deal with the memory loss and behavior changes. Aside from dementia diagnoses, the rates of mild cognitive impairment increase every year. The study lists several case studies in which it describes the symptoms of an individual and their testing scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination. The study provided very detailed information regarding the diagnostic protocol for Alzheimer’s disease. The study also noted important tests for mild cognitive impairment such as levels for vitamin B12, folic acid, and thyroid levels. Some other risk factors that are screened for are Lyme disease, HIV, and heavy metal exposure. The study also discusses the neuroimaging involved in looking at Alzheimer’s disease.
There is a growing body of research to support the link between heart health and mental health. The risk of developing dementia increases with heart and artery conditions. This includes conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and strokes. Scientists are looking into using the drugs that currently treat blood pressure and vascular disease to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s onset. Further research is needed to determine the connection of these two types of diseases and find a new treatment.
Also, hormones can also play a role in the development of dementia. In one study, participants took estrogen-based hormone therapy for a year during perimenopause. The results showed that the therapy protected thinking and memory in women that had a predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease. Following that study, other studies showed no benefit to estrogen supplementation. So, further research in this area is needed.
In regards, to the future of Alzheimer’s disease, I believe current research shows that it is curable, and as more research comes to light regarding the root cause, the reversable nature of the disease will become even more evident. However, the opportunity to cure the disease increases with early detection. With a balance of nutritional therapy and detoxification, the brain and body can be restored. The research in near infrared light shows that once the body removes the disruptive neurotoxins, brain fog and memory loss go away. However, more guidance needs to be given to help patients understand the safe time limits to use near infrared on the head and what other important parts of the body to use it on. For example, it is important to also detoxify the liver and kidneys in the process so that harmful compounds in the brain can exit the body instead of relocating somewhere else. This can help remove the destructive proteins and heavy metals like excess aluminum from the brain. Near infrared along with nutritional therapy has been clinically shown to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Furthermore, a patient needs to cut out processed foods from their diet that include artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Some doctors refer to Alzheimer’s disease as type 3 diabetes because it is an imbalance in the diet of too much sugar and not enough brain supporting fats. By reducing processed sugars, neurotoxins such as artificial sugars and preservatives, and chemicals from home care products, the level of brain disruptors will be significantly reduced. When the body has the correct tools, it can work properly.
Research has looked into the effects of insulin resistance on the brain. Therefore, eating a whole foods diet with omega 3 fatty acids can help. Also, adding back minerals into the body after sweating can help provide energy to heal and give the brain what it needs to continue to function. Some research shows that ashwagandha, coconut oil, and curcumin can support the brain and mitigate Alzheimer’s disease. Key nutrients to support the health of the brain are antioxidants, healthy fats to support grey matter production, omega 3s, vitamin K2, and iodine to clear toxins, However, I think these should only be used as supportive aids in the healing process, and I do not think they truly address the root cause. They may address inflammation in the brain, but they do not rid the body of harmful toxins and nourish the brain fully. These can be helpful since Alzheimer’s does create some low-level inflammation in the brain, but they should be paired with a holistic healing treatment.
In conclusion, Alzheimer’s disease is a complex process that does not have enough research to fully understand the root cause and cure. However, research indicates many possible causes such as blood sugar imbalances, environmental toxins, heavy metals, depression, nutrient deficiencies, and hormonal imbalances to name a few. The future of medicine needs to really understand one’s unique individual biochemistry to help guide a better path of wellness. Through epigenetics, research shows that humans have control over their health because diet and lifestyle can turn on or off certain genes for diseases.
Therefore, it is important that each person becomes their own health advocate to understand their body, minimize their toxic exposure, eat nourishing foods, and seek out lab testing to know any deficiencies they have. We can become examples to those around by enjoying good health through whole foods, natural home products, and exercise. Also, trying near infrared light can be an inexpensive and effective option for anyone when they utilize options like single near infrared bulbs and purchasing a base for that bulb instead of purchasing a complete sauna. This can make healing accessible for anyone, and I have seen the amazing results NIR can have with children using the single bulb. By using a single near infrared bulb on the head for 10 minutes per day, the harmful proteins and toxins can be eliminated to end the condition. Furthermore, it is important that further research includes how to support holistic healing through complete elimination of these compounds from the body. For example, other organs such as the liver and kidneys need to also be supported through near infrared light or supplements to help them handle the burden.
Finally, this should be balanced with a nutritional program. By using hair mineral analysis testing, a patient can see their specific nutritional deficiencies and toxins. This can help a practitioner put together an individualized plan to help them balance the body and have the energy to remove harmful compounds. As health advocates, we can share these tips and be an example to those around us to become the change we seek.
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