Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was an easy, low cost, non-invasive way of reversing Alzheimer’s – one that didn’t involve turning your life upside down?
Well, perhaps there is. A new study by MIT scientists found they could do just that. Okay, it was in mice, but the results were dramatic, and hold out real hope for a simple, effective treatment in humans.
All it involves is light and sound. . .
Boosted Immune Cells Clear Brain Plaques
Just like a strobe, our brains flicker, generating electrical impulses at different frequencies.
Gamma oscillations range from 25 to 80 hertz (cycles per second) and are believed to have roles in memory, attention and perception. People with Alzheimer’s disease are known to have impaired function in the gamma range.
In 2016, neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai and her research group at MIT tested what would happen if white light were flashed at mice for an hour at a frequency of 40 Hertz (40 times a second).
These mice were specially engineered to develop Alzheimer’s-type symptoms, so the plaques (amyloid) and tangles (tau) typically seen in the disease had built up in their brains, and they exhibited irregular brain activity in the gamma range.
The result of the experiment was that a steady frequency of 40 Hertz was reflected back from the mice in the visual cortex, the area that receives and processes visual information — a not unexpected result. But something else happened that the scientists were unprepared for.
The microglia in the visual cortex were strongly stimulated. These are immune cells that clear debris and toxic waste from the brain.
This light stimulation caused a sizable reduction of amyloid and tau. Dr Tsai described the effect as “most remarkable.”
Better Cognitive Function
For their latest study, published in the journal Cell in March, instead of light, they tested the effect of sound.
Listening to 40 clicking sounds a second, one hour a day for seven days, the mice not only experienced a large reduction of amyloid and tau in the auditory cortex, where sound is processed, but likewise in an area located nearby – the hippocampus – a key part of the brain for learning and memory.
Compared to mice that didn’t receive the stimulation, they performed much better on tests of navigation round a maze, where landmarks must be recalled, and the recognition of objects they’d previously been shown.
As in the light test, the microglia were stimulated, but in addition, there were positive changes in the brain’s blood vessels.
The final experiment was to see the effect of combining both light and sound.
The microglia response was far stronger, and amyloid plaques were reduced not only by a huge amount, but also in a much larger area of the brain. This included the prefrontal cortex where higher cognitive processes take place.
The treated mice performed far better on a set of cognitive tests. For instance, untreated mice shown an object they’d seen before reacted as though they’d never seen it. The stimulated mice spent far less time examining it because they recognized the object.
Overall, the result of combing light and sound was greater than either one alone.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Tsai said, “It was unbelievable. This is the first time we’ve seen that this non-invasive stimulation can improve cognitive function. It’s not a drug or an antibody or anything, it’s just light and sound.”
Shannon Macauley, a neuroscientist at Wake Forest School of Medicine, who was not involved with the study, enthused, “I think it’s an absolutely fascinating paper.” The fact that amyloid and tau fell in both the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex is, she explained, “one of the big jumps in the new paper.
“These are the learning and memory centers of the brain. And there was about a 40 or 50 percent decrease in amyloid and tau levels. It’s an absolutely impressive feat.”
Although the effects fade over time, it would be simple to apply regularly at home by patients, if they’re able, or by a relative or caregiver.
The light-sound therapy has already been tested for safety on healthy volunteers, and early-stage Alzheimer’s patients are currently being recruited for the first human trial.
Dementia is an epidemic in Arizona and America. Whether Alzheimer’s type dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, Lewy Body dementia, mixed dementia or others, the result is the same. Loss of memory, declining mental function, loss of quality of life, and death. Neurodegenerative disease (most of which is Alzheimer’s or mixed type dementia) is the fastest growing cause of death in America. Dementia is the only major disease for which we have no effective drug treatment options.
Pfizer, a major American pharmaceutical giant, recently stated that they will be pulling out of Alzheimer’s treatment research. It has been 15 years since a new drug for Alzheimer’s was launched, reflecting one of the longest and most expensive losing streaks for Big Pharma. Now some in the industry are starting to question how long that commitment can last, after Pfizer announced it was pulling out of neuroscience research. Its decision means the race to find the first medicine to slow or halt Alzheimer’s type dementia must now proceed without one of the biggest forces in drug development.
John LaMattina, a former head of research and development at Pfizer, interprets the decision as a portent of things to come, and predicts other large drug makers will eventually follow suit.
What if the Solution was Not a Drug?
The FINGER study in Finland (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25771249) showed remarkable improvements in the high-risk older group studied through Lifestyle Change. Dr. Dale Bredesen, neuroscience researcher and former professor of medicine at UCLA wrote the ground-breaking book, “The End of Alzheimer’s” documenting the 30 years of research in his lab and others showing that Alzheimer’s type dementia is really many diseases. The research shows at least 36 documented root causes of the neurodegenerative disease process. We don’t “get” Alzheimer’s type dementia like we get the flu. We develop it over many years – usually decades – as a result of our lifestyle failing to fit our unique genetic and epigenetic needs.
It’s not just genetic. That’s right. Our genes do NOT determine our health. They influence our health. It is the interaction of our lifestyle choices, our environment, and our genes known as epigenetics that determines which genes turn on and which stay turned off. For the majority of human diseases, our lifestyle choices far outweigh our genes in determining our health and wellness. This is Great News!
Discover Magazine did an excellent summary article in December 2018 issue entitled: “Alzheimer’s Under Attack – Armed with big data, researchers turn to customized lifestyle changes to fight the disease”. Dr. Leroy Hood, biomedical pioneer & chief science officer for one of our nation’s largest non-profit health care systems, says, “Alzheimer’s is a really complex disease that has been utterly intractable.” He goes on to say, “Taking a systems approach reflects my own conviction that these complex diseases almost never respond to a single drug.”
It takes a systems approach process to solve the multiple pieces of the puzzle behind each person with dementia. More importantly, we need to solve the unique puzzle of each sufferer of brain decline since we are each different. This is not a “one size fits all” approach since, in my experience, there is no one size that fits all. Often medical research studies look for what single factor (usually a drug) creates a benefit in a large study group creating statistical significance for the study group – not individuals. This model fails to address the fact that each of us is unique with a dozen or more “root causes” behind our brain degeneration and dementia. This current double-blind placebo-controlled research model is ill-suited to complex, chronic neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. These complex diseases have multiple lifestyle-related causes different for each individual and multiple interventions are needed for synergistic therapeutic benefits. Medical studies typically study just one drug or intervention at a time which is just not enough to shift the direction of an unusually difficult, complex disease process like dementia.
Dr, Timothy C. Gerhart, D.C., DABCI, Dip. Ac., BCN is the author of 4 books on lifestyle approaches to brain and body Wellness and practices in Peoria, Arizona. His most recent book, “Living Free of Dementia – Solving the Puzzle to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline” is scheduled for release in March 2019.
His other books are: “7 Secrets to Wellness, Change Your Brain, Transform Your Life, & Why Am I Not Right Since My Concussion”. Dr. Gerhart understands that the word “doctor” means “teacher” and is available to present to groups to teach the approaches he uses to prevent and reverse cognitive decline.
This Discover Magazine article is a wonderful summary of the emerging research. Discover Magazine is like Scientific American for everyday people. Click Here for article.
This article explains why the Billion dollar blockbuster drug for Alzheimers Disease (AD) is likely to never happen. AD is not one disease but many.
Each of us is unique with unique genetics, epigenetics, and lifestyle/environmental influences so we manifest brain neurodegeneration differently.
AD commonly occurs with Parkinson-like problems as well as white matter brain disease or Vascular dementia. It is more helpful to think of AD as a complex multiple system neurodegenerative disease and move beyond the name of the disease to the root causes. Here are some of the most common root causes from the emerging research and our experience in practice:
Excitotoxicity – the brain over-revving in the internal stress response
Low magnesium a major factor
Excessive toxic stress
Brain imbalances from concussion, life traumas etc. that turn on the yellow sympathetic nerve stress response which stays stuck “ON”
Poor circulation or perfusion
Not enough oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the brain
Low Nitric Oxide a major factor (get tested – cost just 10.)
Exercise deficiency/sedentary lifestyle
Poor blood sugar and insulin regulation.
Diabetes starves the brain for energy and creates massive inflammation damage
Insulin resistance has been called “Type 3 Diabetes” or “Diabetes of the Brain” since 2014 in the research literature.
Creates massive inflammation and damages the blood-brain barrier creating “Leaky Brain”
Loss of microbial diversity a major factor
Creates autoimmune balances that can attack the brain
Sleep is one of the best anti-inflammatories for our brain and body
AD considered by some researchers to be caused by long-term poor sleep
Eating for Disease
Lots of sugar and processed foods
Lots of gluten
Avoidance of vegetables and fresh, living foods
Lots of pesticides, herbicides, and artificial “crap” in our food – best reason to eat organic
What does good balance have to do with preserving memory and brain function?
Our cerebellum, at the base of our brain, governs balance, as well as precision, coordination, and timing. The movements of daily life keep our cerebellum in a constant state of activity.
It’s this constant activity that keeps the rest of our brain on its toes. A healthy cerebellum (with an active lifestyle) feeds our brain a steady stream of information to keep it actively firing.
Bad Balance Leads to Bad Brain Function
This explains why symptoms of cerebellum degeneration, such as bad balance, often tie into loss of memory, poor ability to learn, and weakened brain endurance. Our brain isn’t getting enough “activation” from our cerebellum to keep it charged and running well. Declining balance is also strongly linked to dementia!
Brain Overwhelm from Bad Balance
When our outer cerebellum degenerates, it no longer filters sensory input leading to brain overload.
Symptoms may include restless leg syndrome, tinnitus, hypersensitivity to stress, depression, fatigue, anxiety, and others that you wouldn’t think could be related to balance.
Do You have Balance Problems?
Do you wobble if you stand on one foot with your eyes closed more than 15 seconds?
Can you walk in a straight heel-to-toe line with your eyes closed without stumbling?
Can you stand with your feet together and close your eyes without swaying?
This could be a sign of compromised brain health and needs to be measured since “What Gets Measured, Gets Improved” With a balance test baseline, we can design a Balance Rehab Program to guide your improvements.
Many who think their balance is fine, are surprised when testing reveals early balance problems that can be helped
There are almost 5000 published papers on force plate balance testing showing it is the gold standard with diagnostic value in conditions ranging from concussion & traumatic brain injury to Parkinson’s disease.
The system we use has a normative database of over 17,000 test results so your results can show if you have the balance of someone years younger or years older than you.
The system shows a Fall Risk Assessment: Low, Medium, and High
The system shows your improvements eg. From high to low fall risk, from the balance of an 80 year-old to the balance of a 45 year-old.
This testing is critical to understanding brain & central nervous system, somatosensory, vestibular, and oculomotor systems.
It is ideal to have a baseline test of your balance. Should you have a concussion or traumatic brain injury, we can quickly see the effects and have a target for recovery.
A groundbreaking paper published in the Journal of Vestibular Research, Does Vestibular Damage Cause Cognitive Dysfunction in Humans,demonstrates that the degree of damage to the vestibular system is directly correlated to changes in the hippocampus, which is a key component of memory and higher cognitive function.
A more recent paper published in the journal Stroke entitled Association of Postural Instability With Asymptomatic Cerebrovascular Damage and Cognitive Declinen discusses the irrefutable link between poor balance, cognitive decline, and small blood vessel disease in the brain. Subjects that had a reduced ability to stand on one leg were clearly shown to have lower cognitive functions of memory and spatial awareness. The lead author of this study urged that those with postural instability (impaired balance) should receive special attention as they may be at greater risk of cognitive decline.
With early detection of balance problems, you have the ability to improve. As with anything else in your body, the longer you wait to act, the less likely you will be able to fully recover much needed function and perform at your highest ability.
The better your ability to balance, the better your ability to think!
Schedule Your Balance Test Now! Call us at (623) 776-0206.
Our Microbiome and Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA’s)
In many ways, we are as healthy as our Microbiome. What is the Microbiome?
Our Microbiome is the trillions of bacteria that live mostly in our gut but also on our skin, in our mouth, throat, sinus, and in the urogenital tract.
Some researchers conclude that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the health of our gut microbiome. Our microbiome is home to trillions of microbes, diverse bacteria that help govern nearly every function of the human body in some way. The importance of our gut microbiome cannot be overstated: Poor gut health can contribute to leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases and disorders like arthritis, diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and cancer, while our health, fertility and longevity are also highly reliant on the balance of critters living within our intestines. 3000 new strains of bacteria have been discovered so far.
Human Health = diversity of microbiome = diversity creates immune tolerance
We need Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA’s) from diversity of our microbiome. Diversity of plant fibers in our diet boosts SCFA’s production & diversity of microbiome, High amounts of pesticides, antibiotics in meat, dairy, and processed foods harm the microbiome leading to loss of diversity
Americans have the LEAST diverse microbiomes in the world with more autoimmune diseases than all cancer and Cardiovascular combined!
· We get most of our nutrients from our microbiomes – not from our food or supplements. B-vitamins, Vitamin K, folic acid made by gut bacteria.
o Post-biotics are what microbiome produce – eg. SCFA’s
o Diverse microbiome converts plant foods to powerful anti-carcinogenic enzymes.
o Declining microbiome diversity predicts loss of function/health as people age
o YouCan change microbiome in 3 days – eg. Netflix video binge, little sleep, lots of junk food and alchohol
Junk Food, lack of veggie fiber
Terrible Diet, lack of exercise
Stress – poor sleep, too many fright or adrenalin-junkie action movies
The Most exciting is research showing how gut microbiome can create diabetes
o Lack of diversity of microbiome = extract more energy from food we eat = high blood sugars and weight gain of human host
o Optimal health with lots of microbiome diversity = microbiome gets first shot at our calories and consumes many of our calories first. Help us manage our energy absorption, blood sugar regulation, and body composition so we stay lean easily.
How Do We Boost Intestinal SCFA’s? I
o Support a more diverse microbiome to make more SCFA’s
o Consume more diverse plant food fiber sources (not meat)
o Celery, bok choi, turnips, kale, beets, brussel spouts, etc.
Benefits of More Microbiome Diversity & Intestinal SCFA’s? I
o Signals appetite control
o Lack of diversity, low SCFA’s = always hungry, never satisfied
o Increased diversity, higher SCFA’s = satisfied, less hunger – quickly
· Affects brain function: low diversity tilts us towards anxiety & depression
· Burns fat more effectively for weight loss
o Improved insulin resistance – support lean, low body fat
· Makes tight junction proteins – for gut repair:autoimmune, many food allergies, chem sensitive patients
· Reduces inflammation in the gut, brain, and body
· Enhances immune tolerance to food, chemicals, and self – especially important in autoimmune disease, chemical sensitivity, and food allergies
How do We Boost Microflora Diversity & SCFA levels?
o Eat LOTS of veggies for the fiber. Eat new and different veggies.
o Try new veggies each visit to the market. Add to a Vitamix/blender and enjoy.
o Do NOT do juicing – it removes the critically important fiber
o Mimimize refined sugars and avoid antibiotics and pesticides when possible
Supplementsto boost diversity and SCFA’s:
o Enterovite – the 3 critical SCFA’s in the proper ratio. Can create benefits 1st day of use for those with low microflora diversity.
o Trizomal Glutathione – best tool to reduce gut inflammation that damages diversity
o Apex AD – specific ratio of Vitamin A and D shown to boost immune tolerance
Neuroinflammation or the Brain on Fire is the Root mechanism for Alzheimers, Parkinsons and many of our brain diseases. When our brain is on fire, our brain begins to degenerate. We lose volume and our brain begins to shrink from the inside and outside.
When we tip one way we are making neural connections in the brain, when we tip the other we are removing neural connections in the brain. This moves us towards Alzheimers and other types of dementia.
The research shows us 36 factors that influence towards Alzheimers or towards brain health. They include:
vitamin D – critical for brain health
essential fatty acids
brain derived neurotropic factors
how well our mitochondria works to make energy
glutathione (an essential molecule for antioxidant balance)
improving blood flow to our brain
Reducing oxidative stress
neurotransmitter hormone balance
optimizing our cortisol and stress hormones
improving GABA which is calming to our brain
How do we help people with Neurodegeneration? We help them by dealing with root issues – not covering up symptoms. We work by solving the puzzle of why we are having our issues. We use a functional medicine, functional neurology approach