Adapted from the book “BrainRecovery.com” by David Perlmutter, MD Board-Certified Neurologist
At present, approximately 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. By the year 2030, it has been estimated that this number will approach 9 million. Prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease has been estimated to be 50% in individuals 85 years or older—the most rapidly growing segment of our population. Costs associated with treatment and management of Alzheimer’s disease are high, but the emotional costs borne by families and caregivers are immeasurable. In a recent issue of Archives of Neurology (June 1999), the lack of usefulness of the drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s was eloquently described in a guest editorial by Dr. William Pryse-Phillips.
Our society focuses on treating medical problems with precious little attention paid to disease prevention. But it seems appropriate to first explore some of the emerging theories surrounding the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
In these days of hand-held cellular phones, personal computers, and an abundance of other electronic devices, the general public seems to be at least marginally concerned about the possible health risks of electromagnetic radiation exposure as evidenced by articles appearing not only in alternative medical publications, but in mainstream journals as well. In 1995, the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers at the University of Southern California School of Medicine confirmed a direct relationship between occupations exposing individuals to higher levels of electromagnetic radiation and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The December 1996 issue of Neurology, revealed a substantial increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in individuals whose occupations exposed them to higher than average levels of electromagnetic radiation.
Another generally unnoticed but certainly important risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease is exposure to aluminum. The science relating to Alzheimer’s and aluminum appears in our most highly respected medical journals. Reporting in the journal Neurology in 1996, researchers from the University of Toronto found an astounding 250% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in individuals drinking municipal water high in aluminum, for a 10 or more year period of time. “The findings from epidemiological studies, coupled with the large body of
experimental evidence of aluminum neurotoxicity and elevated concentration in the Alzheimer’s disease affected brain, argue that priority should be given to consideration of lowering, and maintaining, acceptable limits of residual aluminum. One could certainly argue the rationale for reducing aluminum exposure “particularly for older age groups at risk for Alzheimer’s disease” since aluminum accumulates over many years regardless of age, and we will all be members of the “older age group” eventually.
Medications high in aluminum include many buffered analgesic products. See the following list for additional aluminum containing medications.
- Acid-X • Maalox Plus Extra Strength tablets• Alenic Alka tablets • Maalox Plus tablets• Alkets tablets • Maalox tablets• Almacore tablets • Marblen tablets• Calglycine Antacid • Megalox tablets• Duracid Tablets • Mi-Acid gelcaps• Extra Strength Alenic Alka tablets • Mintox Plus tablets• Extra Strength Genaton tablets • Mintox tablets• Extra Strength Maalox tablets • Myalgen gelcaps• Foamicon tablets • Mylanta Double Strength tablets• Gaviscon Extra Strength Relief Formula Tablets • Mylanta gelcaps• Mylanta • Gaviscon tablets• RuLox #1 tablets • Gaviscon-2 Double Strength tablets• RuLox #2 tablets • RuLox Plus tablets• Gelusil tablets • Tempo tablets• Genaton tablets • Titralac Extra Strength tablets• Titralac tablets
In The Lancet, May 8, 1999, from the Department of Neurology and Clinical Chemistry at the University of Heidelberg, researchers revealed that the second most frequent cause of dementia in the elderly population after Alzheimer’s disease was so called “vascular dementia”, or brain dysfunction as a consequence of disease of the small blood vessels. What was more striking was the finding of elevation of a particular chemical in the blood of these individuals called homocysteine. The conclusion of the report provided very strong support for the effectiveness of dietary supplementation with the B-complex group of vitamins in terms of reducing risk of dementia.
Along the same lines as homocysteine is elevated insulin caused by chronic elevated blood sugars and the end result is inflammation…in the brain. Alzheimer’s is now considered the 4th arm of cardiometabolic syndrome which includes obesity, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dementia’s in general cost the health care system more than either cancer or cardiovascular disease in 2012.
A naturopathic approach to treating someone with Alzheimer’s disease depends on what I think may be contributing to the underlying cause(s) of their disease. For some I may suspect aluminum toxicity and will recommend a toxic element test and help their body detoxify the offending toxins. For other’s I may test their insulin response and recommend an anti-inflammatory diet and clinical nutrition to repair their insulin receptors. For other’s I may recommend anti-oxidant support using specific nutrients that can cross the blood brain barrier and show efficacy in brain cell health.