Prevention, Treatment, Reform
Neurodegenerative disease is the fastest-growing cause of death in the world. Misinformation and mismanagement are contributing to the global epidemic.
Alzheimer’s disease alone is killing 50-100 million people now and spreading fast. Experts suggest that the prevalence of brain disease will quadruple by 2050, if not sooner. Meanwhile, death rates from heart disease and cancer are dropping globally due to advances in nutrition, medicine and disease management.
The epidemic is more widespread than anyone knows. Physicians are withholding millions of diagnoses from patients and their families. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, physicians in the U.S. only inform 45 percent of patients about their Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The same suppression is likely at work in most countries. Meanwhile, millions more go undiagnosed and misdiagnosed. Unfortunately, misinformed caregivers, family members, healthcare workers and others are caught in the crossfire of a deadly contagion known as a prion.
Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.”
President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we all are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence and reckless disregard for public health.
TSE is a spectrum disease also known as prion disease. The spectrum includes Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and an extremely aggressive version known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Prusiner claims that all forms of TSE are caused by infectious proteins known as prions (PREE-ons). The prion spectrum varies in severity. It also varies depending on which region of the brain is impacted first. When the presenting symptom is memory loss, the diagnoses flow along the following chart.
People and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them because infectious prions are in the skin, urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva of each victim. These infectious bodily fluids are contributing to the rapid spread of Alzheimer’s and other mutations of prion disease.
It’s not known which patients with brain disease become infectious or when, but both CJD and Alzheimer’s patients are being mismanaged. Informed neurologists won’t touch patients with these symptoms because of the risk of transmission. They are making diagnoses from across the room.
“Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease behaves like Alzheimer’s disease on steroids,” said Dr. Jennifer Majersik, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Utah.
According to neuroscientists Dr. Laura Manuelidis, at least 25 percent of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are not Alzheimer’s disease. These misdiagnoses are actually CJD, which is further up the prion spectrum. CJD, without dispute, is extremely infectious to caregivers and loved ones. Millions of cases of deadly CJD are being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. Millions of patients and caregivers are being misinformed, misguided and exposed to an aggressive disease. Misdiagnosis and misinformation regarding prion disease is a matter of life and death. The mismanagement doesn’t end here.
“There has been a resurgence of this sort of thinking, because there is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins (prions).”
Researchers have more questions than answers, but we know that neurotoxins, head trauma and genetics can all trigger neurodegenerative disease. Unfortunately, that’s where our knowledge gets fuzzy. Most diagnoses are a process of elimination. After eliminating all other possibilities, the guesswork begins:
- If the patient has a memory disorder, it’s Alzheimer’s disease.
- If they have a movement disorder, it’s Parkinson’s disease.
- If the patient shows both symptoms, flip a coin.
- If they ever had a concussion, it’s possibly CTE.
- If the person is incapacitated, it’s Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
Each victim will die of the disease. The only question is how quickly. Each victim contaminates its environment with the unstoppable prion protein. As such, one of the best prevention strategies is to avoid the contagion in your diet, water and overall environment. As we discuss throughout this site, an ounce of prevention might be our only hope. Foolish policies and practices are contributing to the problem.
Research shows that up to 54 percent of Alzheimer’s disease cases in the U.S. could have been prevented with diet and exercise. Exercise generates a beneficial protein in the brain that may help us in the war against dementia. Physical exertion also helps improve blood flow to the brain, which gives Alzheimer’s disease crusaders an added benefit.
The Mayo Clinic claims that the risk for mild cognitive impairment is 42 percent lower in elderly individuals who consume more fat and less carbohydrates.
Recent research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease, like heart disease and strokes, is linked to the saturated fat, cholesterol, and toxins found in meat and dairy products. Studies have shown that people who eat meat and dairy products have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than do vegetarians. In contrast, the protective properties of chemicals commonly found in plants—such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals—help substantially lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A study of more than 3,000 elderly Chicago residents found that those who ate lots of vegetables had significantly better memories and cognitive function than those who didn’t eat many vegetables.
Research also shows that diets high in animal fats have the highest correlation with Alzheimer’s disease prevalence. In fact, people who eat large quantities of saturated fats, like those found in meat and dairy products, have twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, people who eat very small amounts of saturated fat in favor of more polyunsaturated fats (found in vegetables and nuts) have a 70 percent reduction in Alzheimer’s risk.
Meanwhile, some are studying turmeric, folic acid and Vitamin D3 as deterrents to Alzheimer’s disease. The immune-stimulation effects of vitamin D3 in combination with curcumin (found in the spice turmeric), seems to help purge some of the protein buildup in the brain. Both vitamin D and curcumin help fight Alzheimer’s disease independently. They might accomplish even more when used together.
Other studies indicate that foods rich in B12 and Omega 3 fats might lower one’s risk of acquiring the disease. Coconut oil and blueberries also are beneficial. Alpha-lipoic acid supplements show early promise in clinical studies. It also helps reduce brain inflammation.
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Research from China indicates that melatonin supplements can prevent the development and slow the onset of dementia. Melatonin protects neurons from protein toxicity and prevents protein formations such as fibrils in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone found in plants, animals and microbes. It decreases with age within patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
In other dietary news, British researchers claim that sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, can trigger a number of neurological conditions, including dementia. (As you have noticed, protein is a common theme in this battle for the brain.) Writing in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, Dr. Marios Hadjivassilou stated, “Gluten sensitivity can be primarily, and at times exclusively, a neurological disease.”
Many factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease also are associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. These factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension in midlife.
There appears to be a correlation between dementia and diabetes. Even small elevations of blood sugar generate a significant increase in one’s risk for dementia, even for those who don’t have diabetes. Some researchers are exploring the link between dementia and diets that are high in saturated fat and sugar.
Mounting evidence accumulated over the past few years indicates that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a significant role in cognition. Serotonin (5-HT) neuron and neurotransmitter loss may contribute to behavioral changes often observed in people who have dementia. Serotonin therapies are in research now. Since serotonin is a derivative of tryptophan, turkey meat might prove therapeutic and effective against Alzheimer’s.
Other scientists are looking for links between aluminum, copper, and iron in the body. For example, some scientists have found increased iron levels in patients with Alzheimer’s. The researchers believe that the iron is due to meat consumption. One could ask whether the protein buildup has more to do with the meat and fat consumption than the iron level.
According to Stephanie Seneff, a Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Glyphosate could be the culprit behind Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders. Glyphosate is a major component in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides around the world. A number of scientific studies have shed light on its effects within the human body. It could be triggering health problems such as gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In humans, glyphosate disrupts enzymes that help detox the body, which can contribute to illness and disease.
According to Dr. James Duke, affectionately referred to as “Uncle Sam’s Medicine man,” plant-based nutrition offers hope. One of Duke’s books, The Green Pharmacy, has a chapter devoted to Alzheimer’s. He prescribes diets that include rosemary, horse balm, Brazil nuts, dandelion, fava beans, sage, ginkgo, stinging nettle and willow. He says that rosemary and horse balm have compounds that preserve acetylcholine, the vital brain chemical in cognition and reasoning. He notes that while the pharmaceutical tacrine hydrocloride (cognex) preserves acetylcholine and reportedly slows the progression of Alzheimer’s, the natural herb horse balm has compounds that do likewise, along with compounds that can cross the blood brain barrier. A horse balm shampoo might work nearly as well as FDA approved tacrine. It would probably be safer, easier on the liver and a whole lot cheaper (simply add several droppers full of horse balm tincture to your favorite herbal shampoo).
Dr. Morgan Otis, a respected American Indian of Kiowa/Cheyenne-Arapaho descent, with a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, says that horse balm is a great healer plant. His culture traditionally used it all over their head and hair.
“My Kiowa ancestors have always had a special relationship with horse balm (Monarda fistulosa) and its twin, lemon mint (Monarda pectinata),” said Otis. “We know to use them on our heads, hair, and faces. They are healer plants, known as good medicine for many things.”
The Kiowa’s understanding of these plants fascinated the renowned ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. He documented his time with the Kiowas in his publication with Paul Vestal, “The Economic Botany of the Kiowa Indians As It Relates to the History of the Tribe,” (1939 Harvard University Press).
Preventing Alzheimer’s disease is easier said than done. This book explores Alzheimer’s disease as part of a protein epidemic. It dissects several causes of Alzheimer’s disease, including genetics, food, water and contact with patients who have the disease. Explore the pages on this website for more detail about what causes Alzheimer’s disease.
Deadly prions are contagious and unstoppable. They are behind some forms of neurodegenerative disorders in mammals, including humans.
Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. The prion disease epidemic is one of our special areas of practice.