Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia among older people. Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities.
Alzheimer's disease is "characterised by loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex and certain subcortical regions. This loss results in gross atrophy of the affected regions, including degeneration in the temporal lobe and parietal lobe, and parts of the frontal cortex and cingulate gyrus. Some of the primary symptoms of alzheimer's disease are: memory problems, mood swings, emotional outbursts, brain stem damage which impairs function in the heart, lungs plus causes disruption of various other bodily processes.
An abstract of the medical study entitled Measures to Assess the Noncognitive Symptoms of Dementia in the Primary Care Setting by Brent P. Forester, M.D. and Thomas E. Oxman, M.D. inidcated "Noncognitive symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias include psychosis, mood disturbances, personality changes, agitation, aggression, pacing, wandering, altered sexual behavior, changed sleep patterns, and appetite disturbances. These noncognitive symptoms of dementia are common, disabling to both the patient and the caregiver, and costly."
According to the Center for Neuro Skills:
|“||Kolb & Wishaw (1990) have identified eight principle symptoms of temporal lobe damage: 1) disturbance of auditory sensation and perception, 2) disturbance of selective attention of auditory and visual input, 3) disorders of visual perception, 4) impaired organization and categorization of verbal material, 5) disturbance of language comprehension, 6) impaired long-term memory, 7) altered personality and affective behavior, 8) altered sexual behavior.||”|
AD begins slowly. It first involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. People with AD may have trouble remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. Over time, symptoms get worse. People may not recognize family members or have trouble speaking, reading or writing. They may forget how to brush their teeth or comb their hair. Later on, they may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, they need total care.
AD usually begins after age 60. The risk goes up as you get older. Your risk is also higher if a family member has had the disease.
No treatment can stop the disease. However, some drugs may help keep symptoms from getting worse for a limited time.
Ronald Reagan famously suffered Alzheimer's disease in his later years.
Alzheimer's disease and prevention
See also: Alzheimer's disease and prevention
There are a number of suspected causes for Alzheimer's disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers believe for most people suffering from the disease, genetics, lifestyle, gender and environmental factors are possible contributors.
After the age of 65, the chance of developing the disease double every five years. The Mayo Clinic reported that almost fifty percent of those people who are 85 years or older are affected.
The Mayo Clinic states that studies suggest that people who keep mentally and socially active during their lives may decrease their chances of developing Alzheimer's disease. Having a higher education, challenging employment, a mentally-stimulating hobby and an active social life may help reduce the risks. The connection hasn't been explained yet, but it may be because the brain develops more "cell-to-cell connections", thus reducing the impact of Alzheimer's damage.
Research and progress
A great amount of time and money is continuing to go into the search for a prevention and cure for Alzheimer's disease. Although there is still no cure, some research is showing some promising results. For a while, Aluminum was suspected to cause or exacerbate the disease. If this is true, Fluoride which is common in treated water and toothpaste would also be a concern, since it strongly attracts aluminum. Since fluoride tends to build up in the human body, it will tend to trap aluminum within the body as well. However, this aluminum connection was never fully studied, and is now generally dismissed, although no conclusive proof has been released to either prove or disprove this scientific suspicion.
Recently, research has suggested a surprising link between Alzheimer's disease and the Herpes Simplex 1 virus. In the brains of those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease, there is always found a kind of plaque. Using the Herpes Simplex 1 virus (HSV1), researchers were able to create this same plaque on brain tissue in petri plates. Additionally, applying antiviral medications to the samples proved to slow, stop, and even reverse the plaque formation, depending on the quantity used.
Some may recognize the name Herpes Simplex 1, and for good reason; it is the virus responsible for cold sores. As it turns out, those who report ever having had a cold sore are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who don't. However, many who report never having had cold sores still develop Alzheimer's disease, so the researchers' work is far from done. Some may become infected and not know it, but this does not at all cure this disease yet.
Alternative medical claims
Natural doctors and all others who practice naturopathy also have ideas and research which suggest other causes and cures. Although not conventionally accepted, these causes include:
- Aluminum (unlike conventional medicine, natural healing and prevention still usually suspects this element)
- High sugar consumption
Natural healing can work for both prevention and reversal of illness, but often works best doing the former. Here are some prevention and possibly curative methods sometimes used:
- Vitamin B supplementation (B3 as well as other B vitamins)
- Coenzyme Q10 supplementation
- Resveratrol supplementation (not generally thought to cure, but widely accepted for prevention or slowing the onset)
- Omega-3 fatty acid consumption and/or supplementation
- Consumption of the herb Ashwagandha
- High-protein diet
- and of course, avoidance of suspected causative agents
- Hebert, LE; Scherr, PA; Bienias, JL; Bennett, DA; Evans, DA. “Alzheimer Disease in the U.S. population; Prevalence Estimates Using the 2000 Census.” Archives of Neurology. August 2003; 60 (8): 1119 –1122; National Academy on an Aging Society. “Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia: A Growing Challenge.” September, 2000. Graphic used on page 7 of the National Alzheimer's Strategic Plan, March 25, 2009
- Alzheimer's disease - causes, Mayo Clinic
- Alzheimer's disease: risk factors mayoclinic.com, retrieved September 11, 2011
- Rothfeld, Glenn. Dr. Glenn Rothfeld's Nutrition & Healing Aug. 2016: 1-4. Print.
- Alzheimer’s Association Official Website
- A National Alzheimer’s Strategic Plan: The Report of the Alzheimer’s Study Group, The National Alzheimer's Strategic Plan was released at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging on March 25, 2009.