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 Alzheimer's and Senility are Reversible 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled From Fatigued to Fantastic by . View all columns in series
Alzheimer's is a common form of dementia (senility) affecting almost 5 million Americans. As our population ages, this is an area that drug companies believe may be quite profitable, so there is heavy advertising being done for the medication Aricept, which has very minimal to modest benefit.

The only definitive test for diagnosing Alzheimer's is a brain biopsy, which appropriately is not done. Because of this, and because most doctors do not have time to do a proper 30-60 minute evaluation for underlying causes (Medicare pays poorly for visits over ~ 5 minutes), many elderly folks get a label of Alzheimer's slapped on them and a prescription for Aricept at first sign of confusion, and perhaps a cursory look for other causes of confusion. In addition to the tragic personal costs, the financial cost of caring for someone with Alzheimer's averages from $70,000 to $174,000 (over a lifetime) with global costs for care being $248 billion yearly. It is insane to not aggressively look for and treat simple reversible problems that can cause or aggravate dementia.

Let's look at a simple medical approach to evaluating and treating people with mild to severe loss of mental function. When doing this, you may find that the person never had Alzheimer's, and that even if they do, even modest improvements in mental function can dramatically improve the ability to function and remember names and people. We will also discuss a promising new medication for Alzheimer's that can stop it in its tracks (well, really an old natural compound that they will try to pass off as new).

Also, for those of you with day to day "brain fog" wondering if you may have Alzheimer's, here's a simple rule of thumb:

Alzheimer's is not when you keep forgetting where you left the keys—it's when you forget how to USE the keys.

This article will focus on Alzheimer's and dementia, as well as poor memory & mental function in general. It will also lay the foundation for next week's newsletter on "Brain Fog in CFS & FMS."

Are you ready to get your memory and mind back?

Where Do We Start?

Begin with the basics. These are:

1. Nutritional support. Check a vitamin B12 level. If it is under 540, get a series of at least 15 B12 shots over several months (make sure the injections have 1,000-5,000 mcg of B12 per injection). If the B12 level is under 350, I would take the shots monthly forever, and add 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar to each meal (as convenient) as low B12 is usually associated with low stomach acid and the vinegar can help digestion. The B12 shots can take 3 months to fully kick in. In addition, supply overall nutritional support with the Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder (which also has a strong B complex vitamin which can take care of the low B12 if your doctor won't give the injections). In addition, add fish oil—3 to 4+ servings of tuna, herring, or salmon a week or a tablespoon of fish oil twice a week. The brain is made of the oil found in fish oil (DHA). This can also help treat any hidden depression which may be present (see below). Also check a blood ferritin level (for iron) and treat with iron if it is under 40.
2. Treat hormonal deficiencies—even if the blood tests are normal.

A. I would recommend a trial of Armour Thyroid in most people with unexplained chronic confusion to see if it helps. If risk factors for heart disease are present, the doctor should start with a low dose and work up slowly. A recent study (see Thyroid Function and Alzheimer's) showed that even a low normal thyroid hormone (TSH over 2.1 vs. a TSH of 1-2—anything under 5.4 is consider "normal" by most doctors—even if it can kill you) in women was associated with more than a doubled risk of developing dementia!
B. In men, if the total testosterone is under 400, I would give natural testosterone cream to bring the total testosterone level to ~ 600-800. Testosterone used in the natural form and safe dosing decreases heart disease and diabetes risk as well and does NOT increase prostate cancer risk (in fact , low testosterone is associated with a higher risk).
C. Synthetic estrogen/Premarin and Provera do not improve brain function—and are dangerous. Bioidentical hormones do seem to have heart and cancer protective effects, where the synthetics worsen these. Though I have not seen studies on Bioidentical Estrogen and Progesterone in women and brain function, the other data suggests to me that it is worth a 6 month trial in women with cognitive/memory problems.

3. Consider a trial of 1 aspirin a day. Much of what is called Alzheimer's is really the result of multiple small mini-strokes. This is especially so if the progression of mind problems seemed to occur in discrete small steps (worsening with each small silent stroke). An aspirin a day (or willow bark found in health food stores, 120 mg of salicin a day, if aspirin bothers your stomach) can decrease the risk of further strokes and often improve function as well.
4. Get your 8 hours of sleep a day. Begin with Melatonin 3-5 mg (I usually recommend ½ mg, but use the higher dose in this setting) at bedtime. If needed, add 2-3 capsules of the Revitalizing Sleep Formula herbal mix at bedtime. Other natural sleep aids are also available (see Treating Insomnia).
5. Make sure there is no depression (which can mimic Alzheimer's).
6. Look for and treat diabetes, liver disease, anemia, heart disease, and other medical conditions.
7. Look for and eliminate any chronic infections (e.g., silent bladder infections; yeast overgrowth reflecting as increased gas or clearing one's throat a lot).
8. Look for medications (or excess alcohol) that could contribute to confusion, and see if the doctor will work with you to leave each medication off for 2-3 days (if able) to see if the mind clears.
9. I would add a trial of Gingko Biloba 40-80 mg 3x day. Give it 6 weeks to work. Though a long shot, the natural supplement PhosChol 1-3 caps a day could also raise acetylcholine levels (the brain chemical raised by Alzheimer medicines), but I have not seen studies using it in Alzheimer's and it is expensive.

How About Alzheimer Medications?

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 About The Author
Jacob Teitelbaum MD is author of the popular free iPhone application "Cures A-Z" and author of the best-selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic! (3rd revised edition, Avery/Penguin Group) and Pain Free 1-2-3-A......moreJacob Teitelbaum MD
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