Alzheimer’s doesn’t just happen. It is caused by imbalances, usually several of them that have developed over many years. Eventually they gang up and destroy parts of your brain, robbing you of your memories and your ability to function. There are many imbalances associated with Alzheimer’s. Most of them lie outside of the brain. We work with you, using a variety of scientifically validated tests to identify which imbalances are relevant to you. An individualised program addresses the underlying imbalances, by giving your body what it needs and taking away what is causing mischief. This can halt the progression of the disease and regenerate the brain.
Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the mostOzzy Osborne
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
There are some confusing and unclear definition of AD. Perhaps the clearest answer lies in what it does and the impact that it has.
Most of us know someone who has AD or has died of AD. There will be a sad story of forgetfulness, memory loss, wandering, irritability, confusion, withdrawal and isolation.
We are told that there is no cure, so we hang in for a while and then we put our loved ones, suffering from AD, in a care facility. We convince ourselves that this is for the best. We have busy lives and forgetful, confused and difficult people do not fit in that well.
What if that was you forgetting things, having memory lapses, being confused and getting cross because people around you do not understand. They want the old you, but you just cannot perform like you used to. God knows you try. It comes to a point when you know you are losing it and despite doing everything you can, you can feel things slipping away. Then you end up in a strange place, with different routines, no expectations and in your moments of lucidness, you know that you are alone, treading water, watching your mind slip away and waiting to die.
AD robs you of your memories, your ability to communicate, your ability to think, your personality and your dignity.
It does not have to be this way.
Alzheimer's is a horrible thing. Some people are naive about it. They think, 'Oh it's just your memory,' but my mother was in terrible pain. Your body closes down. She didn't know if she'd eaten or if she wanted to eat. She couldn't remember how to walk. Towards the end, she didn't know us. It came gradually, then it got worse.Bonnie Tyler
AD can only be accurately diagnosed at a post mortem, after death. Current medical diagnosis is a guess based on brain atrophy (hard to detect in the early stages); beta-amyloid burden (if it can be detected) and question based cognitive testing. A poor result in these tests can be explained by a number of other diseases, other than AD.
There are no tests available to definitely diagnose Alzheimer’s, while a person is alive. MRI scans, PET scans and CT scans cannot provide early diagnosis or root causes. They can however show changes in parts of the brain, detect tumours, show blood flow and sometimes detect amyloid plaque build-up.
The early signs of AD are usually first noticed by the person themselves or a family member. The signs are categorised into seven stages. Here are some of the signs:
- Experiencing some lapses in memory or other cognitive problems.
- Problems remembering people’s names or the right words for objects.
- Noticeable difficulty functioning in employment or social settings.
- Forgetting material that has just been read.
- Misplacing important objects with increasing frequency.
- Forgetting recent events or personal details.
- Disorientation in time and/or place.
- Decreased judgment and skills in regard to personal care.
- Personality and behaviour changes.
- Reduced awareness of surroundings and recent events.
- Problems recognizing one’s spouse and other close family members, although faces are still distinguished between familiar and unfamiliar.
- Increased restlessness and agitation in the late afternoon and evening.
- Difficulty using the bathroom independently.
- Bowel and bladder incontinence.
- Repetitive behaviour (verbal and/or nonverbal).
To be fair some of the above signs could apply to me on a bad day. Many of the signs are fobbed off as being part of the ageing process. Herein lies part of the tragedy, because it is in the early stages that AD responds best to treatment.
What causes AD?
It depends who you listen to. The drug companies tell us that it is a condition driven by the formation of amyloid plaque in the brain and that there is currently no cure, BUT, but if you want to take a trip to the dark side, like many integrated doctors have, and take the time to explore neurofibrillary tangles, tau proteins and a whole lot of other stuff, then welcome to the blue pill (okay you may want to watch Matrix to get that one).
In my view, Alzheimer’s is the body’s response to multiple insults resulting in various parts of the brain being affected to the extent that it cannot function properly. It is not just a disease of the brain, as we have been led to believe. It is a disease of the body that has manifested in the brain.
The following are some imbalances associated with AD:
- Genetic Predispositions.
- Heavy Metal Toxicity.
- Chemical toxicity.
- Microorganisms: Lyme’s disease, parasites (Toxoplasmosis), moulds, bacteria (Chlamydia, H. pyloria), fungi and viruses (herpes simplex virus).
- Specific genes.
- Nutrient deficiencies.
- Poor lifestyle choices.
- Poor digestion/absorption.
- Gut microbiome imbalances.
- Poor oxygenation.
- Poor circulation.
- Blood pressure imbalanced.
- Blood sugar imbalances.
- Insulin resistance.
- High homocysteine levels.
- Imbalanced hormones.
- Chronic inflammation.
- Oxidative stress.
- Acute infections.
- Head injury.
- Brain tumours.
- Drug reactions.
- Oral health.
- Radiation exposure.
When you look at the list of imbalances, it explains why AD is often associated with other conditions, such as:
- Eye diseases (cortical cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma). Many eye diseases involve the death of cells, just like AD. 60% of brain function is involved in eyesight.
- Heart disease. Circulation, oxygen levels and plaque feature in both diseases.
- Diabetes. AD has been labelled Type III diabetes because of the involvement of insulin, blood sugar and circulation.
- Leaky Gut/leaky brain.
- Autoimmune conditions.
- Thyroid disorders.
- Sleep apnoea.
- Hypercholesterolemia or statins.
- Root canals and gum disease.
Genetics have been singled out and blamed for AD. While they do play a role, it is a small one compared to the role played by environmental factors. The role of chromosome 21 and the APOE4 gene are regularly resurrected to support the impact of genes, but at best, they only can only load the gun. Environmental factors pull the trigger.
The drug companies will tell you that a build up of amyloid plaque in the brain causes AD. But, if amyloid plaque causes AD, then how is it that people with extremely high levels of amyloid plaque do not get AD and maintain high cognitive performance? Further, an experimental vaccine was found to clear amyloid plaque, but did not have any significant impact on dementia. What if the body, in response to insults to the brain, is producing the amyloid plaque. The plaque is the body’s attempt to protect the brain. The plaque is not directly involved in the degeneration of brain cells, but is triggering an autoimmune reaction, with an over enthusiastic immune system causing harm to healthy cells while they are cleaning up damaged cells. This was the view of Dr Alzheimer’s who discovered the disease and where we started looking for the cause, before the drug companies took us on a different route. Dr Alzheimer’s also hypothesized that microorganisms played a causative role in AD. Amyloid plaque is produced by our bodies as a broad spectrum anti-biotic against microorganisms and to quell inflammation.
Imagine the following unfortunate scenario. Your stove has faulty wiring and sets your house on fire. You call the fire brigade. It arrives and douses the house with water in an attempt to save the house. After the fire, there may be copious amounts of water around the house. In fact, water is found at the scene of most fires. Ah ha! If water is found at the scene of most fires, surely then it may be the cause of the fire. But “No”, you say “that is silly, the water was trying to help, not hinder”…..welcome to the world of amyloid plaque.
Professor Campbell, a brilliant AD researcher, believes that the root causes of AD lie in environmental toxins, such as aluminium. These toxins create the environment in the body that allow the microorganisms to proliferate. Amyloid plaque is a body response, not a cause. Tragically Professor Campbell’s work was shut down some 15 years ago.
So putting it all together, it could look something like this. A person is born with some genetic predispositions that may favour inflammation, poor detoxification and an inability to absorb certain nutrients. A number of environmental insults (see above) switch on these genetic predispositions and also change the milieu of the body (fancy work for environment of the body). This changed milieu allows microorganisms to proliferate. These microorganisms cause mischief in the brain. Inflammation and oxidative stress result. The brain tries to protect itself by producing amyloid plaque. It also mobilises the immune system that starts attacking the microorganisms and this over-activity develops into an autoimmune response. During this process neurofibrillary tangles which contain tau proteins, become hyperphosphorylated (sorry, another big word) and form toxic structures in the brain (more bad stuff) that interferer with the communication in the brain and the destruction of brain cells). Again, Dr Alzheimer identified these drivers. This explanation sounds incredible, yet it is what an increasing number of scientists and doctors are now accepting as an undisputable truth.
Why haven’t we found a cure?
You may be wondering why hardly anyone within conventional medicine is following up on the above research. In my view, the answers lie in profit, power, politics and egos. If you added up all the money spent on drug research for AD and stacked that money as $1 bills on top of each other, the pile would extend 100 kilometres beyond Mt Everest. You may wonder why after spending all that money a cure has not been found. The answer is because they are looking in the wrong place.
You may then be wondering why they are looking in the wrong place? The answer is because that is because the whole medical model is based on: naming a disease and finding a drug response. The process of drug testing costs about $1 billion and takes eight to ten years. Once a drug company enters the FDA approval process, it gets onto a treadmill which is difficult to get off without huge financial loss and possible negative impacts on similar future tests. One drug company has made such a massive investment in the amyloid plaque hypothesis that even though their trials show that patients get worse when amyloid plaque is removed, they are continuing to try and get a return on their investment. Naturally occurring nutrients and therapies cannot be patented, and therefore do not generate profit, so there is no incentive to look there.
Before you dismiss the above as conspiracy theory, consider the following influences drug companies exert:
- They contribute to salaries of FDA employees (the governing body that approves drugs).
- They contribute to political campaigns, political action committees and lobbyists.They sponsor the many perks associated with conferences for doctors. Often this is the only ongoing education some doctors receive.
- They provide substantial grants to medical schools and hospitals.
- They publish papers on new drugs written by ghost writers and pay academics to adopt the work as their own.
- They fund multi-million marketing campaigns to influence both doctors and the public. They spend an average of $9,000 annually per practicing physician in the US. The direct consumer marketing spend in 2000 was $2.5 billion.
- They influence the curriculum of medical schools.
- The only research they conduct into natural substances is aimed at rejigging molecular structures so that they can be patented.
Despite compelling evidence that the answer to preventing and reversing AD lies in a range of imbalances driving key processes in the body and brain, the focus continues down a profit driven pathway. Funding is diverted from studies that will further explore the imbalance hypothesis and researchers who pursue this pathway are hounded, ostracised, and their findings are suppressed.
It's a great disappointment as a leader in the biotech industry that with all the amazing things the drug industry has done in the last couple of decades, we have not made a single major advance, have not developed a single new chemical entity approved for the treatment for Alzheimer's disease.Vivek Ramaswamy
There is no silver bullet medication that will cure AD. The solution lies in identifying underlying causes and addressing them in an integrated manner.
The impact of AD
Here are some US statistics. I believe that some aspects of the situation are worse, in New Zealand:
- Of all the major diseases, AD is increasing the fastest, at 60% over the past five years.
- The incidence of AD is expected to triple by 2050.
- AD is the leading reason for placing elderly people in institutions.
- It is the 6th leading cause of death.
- It kills more people than breast and prostate cancers combined.
- Every 65 seconds someone is diagnosed with AD.
- 1 in 3 older adults die with AD.
- By 2050 the cost associated with AD are expected to rise from $277 billion to 1.1 trillion.
Testing and Treatments
Every single possible cause must be explored, even seemingly unrelated to AD. Because AD is so poorly defined, we cannot afford to rule out any possibility or overlapping factors. Differential Diagnosis is the key to successful treatment.Clement Trempe, M.D.
How you treat AD depends on what you believe causes it. If you believe the amyloid plaque story and that there is no cure, you will probably take expensive drugs knowing that they will not fix you, but may give you some relief. You will wait for the disease to rob your mind.
If you believe that a series of insults has given rise to several imbalances that are causing brain cells to die, you will focus on identifying the relevant imbalances and address them, while giving your body what it needs to heal itself. This is the path to winning your mind back.
In conventional medicine, patients with a diagnosis of AD are treated in essentially the same way. In reality, no two people are alike. No two people are likely to have the same, combination or degree of factors discussed under “What Causes AD?” In natural medicine, we test to see what factors are active and their contribution to imbalances in the body and brain. We then tailor a treatment plan tailored to the client’s individual situation.
We start with a full case history to get clues as to what is going on in the body and brain and which tests may be suitable. Then we gauge where the brain is at in a number of different dimensions, via testing. It is important to establish this benchmark, as we need to measure how much improvement is taking place. We use a variety of tests to determine this benchmark in the different dimensions of cognition.
Next, we test for imbalances. It is not about throwing a whole barrage of tests at a client. We pick the ones that are relevant, based on the case history and physical presentation. We test for many of the imbalances listed under “What Causes AD?”. Some of the tests are conducted at our clinic, while others through conventional laboratories in NZ and overseas. Once all the tests are completed, we analyse the results and prepare a full treatment plan. The treatment plan could consist of diet modification, supplements, lifestyle changes, mind exercises and specific treatments.
An example of what a treatment could look like is as follows:
- If you have imbalances, a plan will be put in place to address these imbalances, e.g. high blood sugar, hormones, etc.
- If you are suffering from particular conditions, a plan will be put in place to address the condition, e.g. leaky gut, diabetes, hypothyroidism, etc.
- If you have toxins and they are creating mischief, they may have to be removed, e.g. amalgam fillings (but with a specific protocol to avoid further damage).
- Any significant deviations from good health that are contributing to AD will be addressed, e.g. chronic inflammation oxidative stress, microorganism overload, etc.
- There are some foods that cause inflammation in the brain and leaky brain. These are usually excluded.
- If you have insensitivity to certain foods, they will be excluded.
- You will be encouraged to eat foods that support brain health.
- If you are lacking in key nutrients, these will be provided via supplements.
- Additional supplements may be recommended to address body imbalances and brain health.
- Specific physical exercises will be recommended.
- Quality sleep will be encouraged.
- Meditation is often necessary (do not worry, we have a software program that does it to/for you).
- Specific mind exercises will be recommended depending on what your brain needs.
- Specific treatments may include oxygen treatments if your brain is lacking in oxygen or low level laser treatment to stimulate the mitochondria (energy factories) in the brain cells or pulsed electro magnetic frequencies to energise the body.
Conventional medicine scoffs at natural medicine’s success in preventing and reversing AD, but it is the science of conventional medicine that shows us that a lack of magnesium can lead to permeability in the blood brain barrier, allowing aluminium and mercury to get into the brain and cause damage. It also shows us that regular exercise produces BDNF (good stuff) that can grow new brain cells. Then, there is a gene associated with a food insensitivity. If the food is ingested, it can kill brain cells, yet only one in eight people experience symptoms. There are so many validations of a natural medicine response, grounded in science, yet they are ignored in the pursuit of a drug solution.
By now you will have figured out that it is not as simple as popping a few pills and winning back your mind. Fighting AD is not easy. It requires courage, commitment and support. The alternative to fighting AD is unthinkable.
Alzheimer's is a disease for which there is no effective treatment whatsoever. To be clear, there is no pharmaceutical agent, no magic pill that a doctor can prescribe that will have any significant effect on the progressive downhill course of this disease.David Perlmutter
Fighting any disease is not cheap. The difference is who pays for the treatment: the government or you. We tend to think of chemotherapy treatment as free. It is usually free to us. It does however cost the tax payer about $30,000 per month.
Fighting AD is expensive. Most of the tests and supplements are not government funded. Few insurance companies will cover costs. This places the financial burden on you.
The testing alone can amount to $3,000. Consultations, supplements and treatments are on top of this and can amount to a similar amount.
You can do less and pay less, but if you are serious about winning the battle against AD, in my experience, it takes a total concerted effort.
You have to decide what price you put on maintaining your cognitive ability. This treatment does not guarantee a cure. However, in my view and the view of many integrated doctors, scientists and researchers it gives you the best chance of slowing and reversing the effects of AD.
As a nation we are famous for our “No8” wire mentality. If you have AD, this is not a time for a “No 8” wire mentality. Time is precious and the things that caused this insidious disease must be identified and addressed methodically, scientifically and speedily for the best chance of recovery.
Contact us to make an appointment with Clive to discuss your / the patient’s current status and health history. We’ll discuss possible testing and treatment options during that consultation and look to formulate a treatment plan.