Saturday, April 9, 2011

Alzheimer's Disease & DS: Connection and Treatments

According to Dr. Steven Kernie, an associate professor of pediatrics and developmental biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center and a pediatric critical care specialist at Children's Medical Center, every person with Down syndrome (DS) eventually will develop Alzheimer's disease (AD). Kernie has a nine year old child with DS and is working hard to find solutions. 

An estimated 10%-25% of "untreated" people with DS have AD at age 40-49 years, 20%-50% have AD at age 50-59 years, and the remaining will have Alzheimer's disease when older than 60 years of age. AD decreases survival in people with DS who are older than 45 years of age.

However, 100% of people with DS who were autopsied in a study, showed varying degrees of plaque in the brain -- a symptom of pre-Alzheimer's, if not full blown Alzheimer's.

The Link Between Down syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease

The reason AD is more common in people with DS is not completely known. This article proposes that Alzheimer’s Could Be a Form of Down Syndrome.

Alzheimer's disease is associated with increased production of a compound called amyloid beta in the brain. Amyloid beta accumulates and causes loss of brain cells called neurons. Exactly how neuron loss occurs is not well understood. The higher risk for Alzheimer's disease in people with DS may be related to the extra copy of chromosome 21 because it leads to increased production of amyloid beta.  

Also those with DS create an excess of glial cells which sweep away unwanted cells -- an overabundance of glial cells seems to sweep away even needed brain cells. 

Another theory is that AD is "diabetes of the brain" and can be treated by avoiding nitrites and white, processed foods. (See "Food Preservatives and Alzheimer's" below.) There is a strong correlation between between insulin resistance in the brain and Alzheimer’s, leading some to now classify Alzheimer’s as a “type 3 diabetes.” Diabetes is common among the DS population, so special attention needs to be paid to maintaining proper blood sugar levels.

The most recent theory of AD is pineal gland calcification as explained in this article Radically New Understanding of Alzheimers which is treated by avoiding fluoridation and possibly supplementing with melatonin, magnesium and curcumin.
The age when symptoms of Alzheimer's disease actually develop may be related to a person's mental capacity (cognitive reserve) or some anatomic characteristics of the brain. That means people with greater brain weight, more brain cells (neurons), and more education may not have symptoms of Alzheimer's disease as early as people with less cognitive reserve. Therefore, it's theorized that the more brain stimulation, like neurodevelopmental therapy is given to a person with DS, the more protected that person may be.

Untreated people with DS may develop symptoms of Alzheimer's disease earlier in life than other people because of their increased production of amyloid beta, their smaller cognitive reserve and their proclivity for diabetes. 

What can you do?

Increase the cognitive reserve with:

Royal Jelly
Wild Blueberry Extract
EGCG Green Tea Extract
Longvida Curcumin
Vitamin C
Roobios Tea
Noggin and BDNF
Bacopa Monera Extract (BME)

Neurodevelopmental Therapy

Reduce pineal gland calcification with:

Longvida Curcumin

Break up the plaque with:

Longvida Curcumin (also see below)
Bacopa Monera Extract (BME) (also see below)
Vitamin D3 (also see below)
Folic Acid

Protect against plaque with:

Acetyl -L Carnitine (ALC)

Support blood sugar levels by:
  • taking coconut oil and cinnamon
  • eating smaller meals throughout the day (every 3-5 hours)
  • avoiding sodium nitrite that is in smoked meat like bacon, ham and turkey 
  • avoiding processed cheese foods, beer and white foods like white flour, white pasta, white rice and sugar
  • staying physically active, eating wholesome foods, eating organic foods, and food with no preservatives

Food Preservatives and Alzheimer's
Dr. Oz featured a segment on his show focusing on the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. A new study has found that food preservatives called nitrosamines are killing the receptors in our brains, which may be leading to the current epidemic of Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Oz said that having diabetes or pre-diabetes (common in those with DS) increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Dr. Oz said that the stunning news is that even if we don’t have diabetes in the body, we may have it in the brain and the foods that we eat every day may cause it.
Dr. Suzanne de la Monte was doing research on another form of disease when she accidentally discovered the link between diabetes, preservative laden foods and Alzheimer’s disease.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, MD recognizes Alzheimer’s as the epidemic of the future. When Dr. Oz asked him if he was convinced that we could prevent Alzheimer’s by what we eat, Dr. Carmona replied that he thought food could be very powerful and that it is an essential part of the equation. He said it is clear that obesity can be linked to Type II diabetes which can then be linked to Alzheimer’s or diabetes of the brain. He said although research is still being done, there are things we can do to mitigate and help prevent these types of diseases.
The four foods Dr. de la Monte is most worried about is smoked meat like bacon, ham and turkey, processed cheese foods, beer and white foods like white flour, white pasta, white rice and sugar. Dr. Oz said to look at the label on foods for “sodium nitrite” as this is one of the chemical preservatives that can break down the blood/brain barrier. Dr. Carmona said to stay away from foods containing nitrites as much as possible.
...Dr. Carmona said that by staying physically active, eating wholesome foods, eating organic foods, and food with no preservatives or the least amount of preservatives will help us make sure that our brains don’t fall short as we age toward the longest life expectancy yet, which is now age 80. Dr. Carmona also recommended doing things that are intellectually stimulating like reading and writing. He also suggested doing things that we don’t normally do like combing the hair with the opposite hand and standing on one foot. He said these are all things that stimulate the brain to make new neuro-connections...

Curcumin Reduces Plaque Build-Up in Alzheimer's Patients

Curcumin,the pigment responsible for turmeric’s yellow color, helps immune cells clear out the plaque build-up that is thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, reports a study in the November 2006 Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
Alzheimer's disease patients have defects in phagocytosis, the process immune cells use to reduce amyloid-beta, plaque deposits in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer's patients also have defects in their body’s ability to clear amyloid-beta plaques. In animal experiments, curcumin enhanced brain clearance of amyloid-beta. Thus, in the current study, researchers at UCLA Medical Center and the Greater LA VA Medical Center treated immune cells (macrophages) from six Alzheimer’s patients and three controls with curcumin in vitro and measured amyloid-beta uptake.
At baseline, the intensity of amyloid-beta uptake by the macrophages from Alzheimer’s patients was significantly lower in comparison to control macrophages. After treatment of macrophages with the curcumin compound, amyloid-beta uptake by macrophages from three of the six Alzheimer’s patients was significantly increased.
The age of the patient and the stage of the Alzheimer's disease appeared to influence the effectiveness of curcumin. The most benefit occurred in the cells from younger patients and patients with early-stage Alzheimer's. The curcumin appeared to have no effect on the macrophages from the healthy controls.
The researchers concluded, “Immunomodulation of the innate immune system by curcuminoids might be a safe approach to immune clearance of amyloidosis in the Alzheimer’s disease brain.”
This is why Jett takes Longvida Curcumin everyday!
UCLA scientists pinpoint how vitamin D may help clear amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer's 


A team of academic researchers has identified the intracellular mechanisms regulated by vitamin D3 that may help the body clear the brain of amyloid beta, the main component of plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. They also explain about using curcumin in conjunction with vitamin D3. 
Full article:

Coconut Oil for Alzheimer's

-Polyunsaturated oils have largely replaced saturated fats in the American diet, and lipid peroxidation is known to be a precursor to Alzheimer’s. The ketones found in coconut oil provide a fuel to the brain that is thought to be very beneficial to those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Video on Coconut Oil and Alzheimer's Disease

-Cholesterol is needed for proper brain function. The brain represents only 2% of the body’s total mass, but contains 25% of the total cholesterol. So Coconut oil can help to fuel the brain.

This link has a six part YouTube video that explains How Coconut oil helps with Alzheimer's

Great resource for info on Alzheimer's and Coconut Oil 

Acetylcarnitine May Protect Against Plaque Build Up

May be helpful in those with Alzheimer's disease since it protects against amyloid-beta neurotoxicity.

Effects of acetylcarnitine in Alzheimer's disease patients unresponsive to acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.
Curr Med Res Opin. 2003.
An evaluatation was made of the effect of 2 grams /day orally for 3 months in association with donepezil or rivastigmine in 23 patients with mild AD who had not responded to treatment with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChE-I). The response rate, which was 38% after AChE-I treatment, increased to 50% after the addition of acetylcarnitine.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies


Nutrition and Supplements

  • Phosphatidylserine (100 mg 3 times per day), a substance occurring naturally in the brain, shows promise in several studies. This supplement may increase levels of brain chemicals that deal with memory, according to several studies. Do not take phosphatidylserine if you are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners), and use caution if combining it with ginkgo for the same reason. There are great differences in quality among phosphatidylserine supplements. You should consider spending more for a more expensive brand, as they tend to be better than cheaper brands.
  • Antioxidants may protect against the development of dementia. They may even slow the progression of dementia. In some studies, but not all, vitamin E (400 - 800 IU per day) combined with Aricept may slow cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer' s disease. Another antioxidant, Coenzyme Q10 (10 - 50 mg 3 times per day), may also help the brain get more oxygen. The skins of dark berries also provide valuable antioxidants. Many naturally-oriented physicians recommend eating half a cup of frozen blueberries daily -- freezing makes the antioxidants in the skin more easily absorbed.
  • Vitamins: biotin (300 mcg); B1 (50 - 100 mg), B2 (50 mg), B6 (50 - 100 mg), B12 (100 - 1,000 mcg), Folic Acid (400 - 1,000 mcg). No scientific evidence shows a direct benefit, but B12 and folic acid lower the levels of an amino acid in the blood that is often elevated in Alzheimer's patients. Injections of B12 may have the best results.
  • Zinc (30 - 40 mg per day) is often deficient in elderly people, and may help improve memory.
  • Some evidence suggests that L-arginine, an amino acid, may help in vascular dementia by increasing blood flow to the brain. The dose used was 1.6 g each day for 3 months.
  • Essential fatty acids, such as those found in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), borage oil, and Evening Primrose Oil, may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Dietary changes include eating fewer animal fats and more fish.


  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) shows the best evidence for treating early Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.
  • Huperzine A, a chemical made from the plant Huperzia serrata, may improve memory in both vascular and Alzheimer's dementia, according to several studies in China. However, more studies are needed to know for sure. The usual dose is 200 mcg twice a day. Do not take huperzine A if you have liver disease or if you are about to have anesthesia.
  • One study showed that lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) helped improve cognitive function in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. The dose used was 60 drops per day.
  • Bacopa Monera Extract (BME) (Bacopa monnieri) leaf extract, called Brahmi, is used in Ayurvedic or Indian medicine to improve brain function and learning. However, no scientific studies have looked at bacopa to see whether it might help lessen symptoms of dementia. One study found that taking 300 mg of bacopa per day for 12 weeks seemed to improve cognition in healthy people.
  • Lavender may be effective in terms of alleviating agitation associated with dementia. Lavender is not used internally but rather as an aromatherapy agent.


Although few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths may consider remedies, based on their knowledge and experience, for treating dementia. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type -- your physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for each individual. Some of the most common remedies used for dementia are listed below.
  • Alumina -- for dullness of mind, vagueness, slow answers to questions
  • Argentum nitricum -- for dementia with irritability, especially with lack of control over impulses
  • Cicuta -- for dementia after head injuries, especially with convulsions
  • Helleborus -- for stupefaction, when a person answers questions slowly and stares vacantly
  • Silica -- for mental deterioration with anxiety over small details


Other sites for more information on DS & Alzheimer's Disease

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