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!
Our understanding of the root causes of dementia and what we can do about it has expanded greatly. Yes, we can live with a healthy mind and body for a lifetime. In the areas of the world documented in the excellent book, Blue Zones (https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150412-longevity-health-blue-zones-obesity-diet-ngbooktalk/), it is NORMAL to live to age 100 and beyond with high level Wellness of body and mind. This is done through lifestyle, not a drug.
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.
You can learn more at: www.brainwellnessaz.com