Boost Your Vitality
Independent researchers are ramping up efforts to develop alternative therapies for Alzheimer’s. A team at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine conducted a 12-month clinical trial that found people with moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s showed significant improvement in cognitive and immune function while taking a polysaccharide-rich supplement.
“Many participants had a renewed ability to recall people, places, events, and situations, which was remarkable given their disease severity,” says John Lewis, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Miller School of Medicine. Lewis is also the co-founder and CEO of Nurish.Me, a company that develops dietary supplements that support cognitive function.
“From a conventional medicine perspective, Alzheimer’s presently has no preventative strategy, treatment or cure,” he says. “People who are diagnosed with the disease have their choice of five FDA-approved drugs that delay decline temporarily. After that, the disease continues to progress until death. Alternative strategies are needed not only to help those afflicted, but to prevent it from occurring in the first place.”
Lewis and his team found that most people’s diets are deficient in certain polysaccharides, or sugars, that can improve health. “These polysaccharides are used within the cells as part of cell-to-cell communication to help the body maintain routine functions that sustain life,” he says. “They contain important information to tell our genes what to do and how to do it.”
Lewis says that many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, are caused by poor nutrition and lack of exercise. When he and his team gave study participants a polysaccharide-rich supplement called CogniNurish, the results were remarkable. CogniNurish is a propriety blend of nutrients that support cognitive function, including rice bran and aloe.
“We had subjects who had not been able to carry on conversations for years suddenly remembering where they lived, their family members, what to eat, and how to do certain things like turning off a light switch when leaving the room,” Lewis says. “We had one woman who could not walk or speak at the beginning of the study, and at the end of the three-month assessment she was walking and referring to caregivers by name.
“Many of these successes had caregivers, family members, and study staff in tears of joy. They, too, were witness to the power of nutrition and what can happen to someone when you reintroduce vital nutrients back into their diet.”
Many experts tout curcumin, a compound in the spice turmeric, as one of the most effective supplements in existence. Its health benefits include reducing inflammation and oxidative damage, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, preventing and treating cancer, and relieving arthritic pain. Now there is evidence that it may be useful for preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease as well.
A key feature of Alzheimer’s disease is a buildup of protein tangles called amyloid plaques. Studies show that curcumin can help clear those plaques.
Researchers at UCLA found that study subjects who took curcumin experienced significant improvements in their memory and attention, while the subjects who received a placebo did not. Their double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 40 adults between the ages of 50 and 90 who had mild memory complaints. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or 90 milligrams of curcumin twice daily for 18 months. “Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s and major depression,” says study author Dr. Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center, and of the geriatric psychiatry division at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.
On memory tests, the people who took the curcumin improved by 28 percent over the 18-month period. They also had mild improvements in mood, and PET brain scans revealed that they had significantly less amyloid and tau tangles in parts of the brain that control memory and emotional function.
“These results suggest that taking a relatively safe form of curcumin (Theracurmin) could provide meaningful cognitive benefits,” Small, author of The Mind Health Report, tells Health Radar. “While scientists continue to search for effective interventions for Alzheimer’s disease, compelling evidence points to the cognitive benefits of addressing modifiable risk factors that contribute to a full 50 percent of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide.”