Joined: 13 Dec 2006
Location: Cleveland, OH
|Posted: Dec Sun 17, 2006 10:46 am Post subject: Alzheimer's Prevention
(CBS) A new study in Tuesday morning's Archives of Neurology looked at disease in almost 5,000 people age 65 or older in Utah. Those who took vitamins were compared to those who didn't.
Medical Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports the study found a combination of vitamin E and C supplements reduced the incidence of Alzheimer's disease by about 64 percent. There was no benefit from the use of vitamin C alone, vitamin E alone, or multivitamins alone.
The findings suggest that vitamins E and C may offer protection against Alzheimer's when taken together in the higher doses available from individual supplements.
Multivitamins typically contain the relatively small, recommended daily allowance of vitamin E, usually somewhere around 22 international units or 15 milligrams. Vitamin C in a multivitamin is normally 75 to 90 milligrams. Individual supplements of C and E contain much larger doses of up to 1,000 international units of vitamin E and up to 1,000 milligrams or more of vitamin C.
In the study, vitamin E use was categorized as more than 400 international units of vitamin E. Vitamin C use was defined as at least 500 micrograms of ascorbic acid. But there may also be some benefit when a vitamin E supplement is combined with the lower doses of vitamin C found in multivitamins.
Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that gradually destroys brain cells. Comparing two scans of a healthy and a diseased brain, the brighter colors indicate more cell metabolism. The theory is that vitamins E and C may help protect against damage caused by free radicals, the by-products of metabolism that can damage cells. Some believe free radicals may contribute to the development of Alzheimer's, because cells in the brain are especially sensitive to their damaging effects.
Further study is needed to confirm the benefits before any official recommendations can be made, but the researchers say the results are extremely exciting.
The threat from Alzheimer's disease is thought to be growing as people live longer in general. Since antioxidant vitamin supplements are relatively safe, cheap and are thought to have other wide-ranging health benefits, the hope is they could turn out to be an ideal Alzheimer's prevention strategy for the aging population.
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Causes of Alzheimer's Disease
I recently received an e-mail asking me this simple question: "What is the cause of Alzheimer's Disease?" To be completely honest, this is an extremely complex and difficult question to answer. The easiest answer would have to be that nobody knows, but that certainly isn't an acceptable answer to the millions of sufferers and their care givers.
Breaking out my Alzheimer's Disease textbook, I came across a whole chapter on the causes of Alzheimer's. Suffice to say, that even with my nursing background, the material is very complex, covering topics such as: Exogenous and Endogenous Toxins, Selective Vulnerability, Genetic Susceptibility, Domoic Acid Poisoning, and Lathyrism and African Konzo.
I won't even begin to interpret the scientific data in this forum, due to it's complexity, however, I can present current theories and research on this complex and confusing issue. A common microbe spread by coughs and sneezes is being researched as a risk factor in Alzheimer's Disease. Chlamydia pneumoniae has also been linked to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, a major cause of heart attacks.
It has been known for years that an abnormal protein called beta amyloid accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. It was thought that it took years for the protein to accumulate. However, a scientist was able to form the protein in only a few minutes by adding high doses of Zinc to brain tissue.
Along with the beta amyloid protein that accumulates in the brains of AD victims, a protein called tau also accumulates, and can be seen in the spinal fluid. It is not known if these proteins are a cause of Alzheimer's, or merely a sign that the disease is present. It is interesting to note that the neurofibrillary tangles that are a hallmark in the brains of those afflicted only accumulate in the areas of the brain that control memory and retention of learned information. These tangles do not affect the parts of the brain that control breathing, heart beat, or other body functions.
Genetics seem to be one of the major factors in the cause of Alzheimer's. There have been several genes identified in recent studies that may have a large impact on whether or not Alzheimer's is developed. A2M is one of the most recent genes identified. The research shows that if this gene is defective, it allows the beta amyloid protein to accumulate which increases the risk of developing AD. Ancestry and environment may also play an important factor in the development of Alzheimer's. The degree to which Cherokee Indians of pure ancestry or mixed ancestry may play a role in delaying the development of Alzheimer's disease after age 65. A National Institute on Aging study shows higher rates of Alzheimer's in Japanese men who emigrated to America as opposed to those who remained in Japan.
A variant of the APOE gene, which has been identified as a probable cause, has been shown to lead to early development of the disease. The e4 variant being present does not mean that one is automatically doomed to get early onset Alzheimer's however. Scientists are cautioning that the presence of this genetic variant is not to be used as a mass screening tool because it is a poor predictor of risk.
The beta amyloid proteins found in the senile plaques in Alzheimer's brains, are being carefully studied as a causative factor in the disease. Harvard researchers are using monkeys to study this protein and its link to AD.
A very large database of articles on this topic can be found at Alzheimers.com -Richard Ask
Eat Fish to Prevent Alzheimer's?
Eating fish may be a way to ward off Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia and cognitive afflictions, according to investigators at the University of Guelph, Canada. Lead researcher Dr. Julie Conquer and colleagues found that elderly people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia or cognitive impairments had lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids than did elderly subjects with normal cognitive functioning. These substances "are found in high concentrations in many fish species and our research suggests that the need to increase fish, fish products, or other sources of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet of both the population at large and the elderly seems prudent," they write in the journal Lipids. -Richard Ask
Huperzine A - Hope for Alzheimer's and Memory Loss
Since its introduction to U.S. markets in 1998, Huperzine A has been aggressively marketed as a natural memory enhancer and concentration aid and is commonly paired with other memory-enhancing ingredients such as Ginkgo, Ginseng, and Vitamin E. Several studies, including a 1997 review paper published in JAMA, indicate that Huperzine A, a purified alkaloid compound isolated from Chinese club moss, inhibits the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Studies show that acetylcholine is rapidly broken down in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and a shortage of the neurotransmitter appears to contribute to their memory loss.
The above information explains why NSP has added Huperzine A to their Brain Protex formula. Its addition only strengthens the formula which also contains Ginkgo Biloba for circulation within the brain; phosphatidyl serine, choline, ethanolamine and Inositol - substances proven to help support memory and brain functions; as well as lycopene and alpha-lipoic acid which are powerful antioxidants; and Rhododendron caucasicum, a potent free radical quencher used for decades in Russia by longevity enthusiasts.
More on Brain Protex with Huperzine for Memory, Senility and Alzheimer's. Everyone wants to live a long, healthy life, and retain their physical and mental capacities. Yet, as we grow more "experienced," our memories may grow a little foggy, our bodies may slow down a bit, and we just don't have the edge we used to have. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that 9 million baby boomers will live into their late 90s and almost 3 million of them will live to be 100 years old. That's far beyond the current life expectancy of 76 years. If your goal is to be numbered among those who will live to be 90 or 100 years "young," the time to prepare is now. Retaining health and vitality requires attention to diet, exercise and supplementation. To assist with supplementation, Nature's Sunshine created Brain Protex to help protect your brain from damaging free radicals and maximize your mental capacity. Think of it this way: your brain is protected from outside damage by your skull, and now you can protect it on the inside with Brain Protex.
Brain Protex aids the brain in two ways. First, it utilizes three powerful antioxidants that cross the blood-brain barrier to protect brain cells from free radical damage. Second, it feeds this vital organ with the specialized "brain food" nutrients Ginkgo biloba and phosphatidyl serine. Ensuring the health of brain cells may promote memory and increase brain function, concerns many people have as they mature. Brain Protex is especially helpful for individuals age 50 and older.
Ingredients and Benefits:
Huperzine is a substance that occurs naturally in Chinese club moss, a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine. It appears to block the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, helping to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. People with Alzheimer's disease or memory trouble have characteristically low levels of acetylcholine.
Ginkgo biloba leaves extract, an antioxidant that promotes circulation throughout the body as well as to and within the brain. Improved circulation may promote better concentration, memory and alertness. Ginkgo also protects capillaries and strengthens the blood/brain barrier, increasing resistance to unwanted invaders.
A blend of phosphatidyl serine, choline, ethanolamine and Inositol, which help support neurotransmitters and thereby help improve memory and brain function. Lycopene, a powerful free-radical quencher found in tomatoes. Alpha-lipoic acid, a versatile antioxidant that enhances the properties of vitamins C and E and may help improve memory.
Rhododendron caucasicum, a powerful antioxidant, has been long-used in Russia and has recently come to the U.S. It has been found to be more potent than some well-known antioxidant vitamins.
Nature's Sunshine Advantage: Unique formulation of powerful antioxidants and nutrients. One of the few formulas in existence that contains rhododendron extract and phosphatidyl serine, choline, ethanolamine and Inositol. Recommended Use: Take two capsules twice daily with meals.
Success Stories: "I stopped in The Herbs Place on recommendation of a friend to get some ideas for my mother who has Alzheimer's. I talked with Randal and also read some materials on the research table and decided to use Brain Protex since it was the most potent. She used it according to directions, and by the end of the first bottle the entire family could tell there was a difference. I just came back to buy two more bottles and wanted to let you know how excited I am that's there's something natural that is REALLY helping her." S. Mason
(Brain Protex with Huperzine (60 capsules) - Stock #3114-1) -Georgiana Duncan
Alzheimer's & Heart Diseases
Durham, N.C. (Reuters) - High amounts of an amino acid commonly found in the blood of elderly people may be associated with Alzheimer's disease, researchers reported Sunday.
"These findings are important because they provide a testable hypothesis that it may be possible to prevent Alzheimer's disease from developing in a portion of potential sufferers' since the amino acid can be lowered by taking Folic Acid, A. David Smith, one of the researchers, said. But he cautioned that people should not take extra Folic Acid without consulting a physician.
Smith and Robert Clarke, both of Oxford University in Britain, discussed their findings in papers released at an American Medical Association conference at Duke University Medical Center. They reported on a study of 164 patients aged 55 and older who had Alzheimer's-type dementia. They found elevated levels of homocysteine in the patients' blood. Higher levels of the amino acid are common, increase with age and have also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, the researchers said.
"Low blood levels of folate and vitamin B-12 and elevated homocysteine levels were associated with Alzheimer's disease, the study said. "The stability of homocysteine levels over time and lack of relationship with duration of symptoms argue against these findings being a consequence of disease and warrant further studies,' said the report, published in the Archives of Neurology. In an editorial in that journal, Ramon Diaz-Arrest of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said the report "raises as many questions as it answers.' "Although it may be premature to advocate population-wide programs to screen for (elevated levels of the acid), neurologists may want to add measures of homocysteine levels to the battery of blood tests that are routinely done in usually futile searches for reversible factors that predispose to dementia,' Diaz-Arrastia wrote. Reuters. -Sammye Lamb
Supplements for Patients with Alzheimer's Disease
© Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Author of "Mind Boosters: A Guide to Natural Supplements That Enhance Your Mind, Memory, and Mood" (St. Martins Press, 2000), and other titles Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a progressive deterioration in mental functioning first described by Alois Alzheimer in 1907. The onset most commonly starts in one's 80s, although it has been known to start as early as age 30. One of the major cognitive problems with AD is the inability to acquire new knowledge. Loss of the sense of smell is common, and the mental deterioration proceeds to affect language and motor skills.
While scientists have not fully determined the actual causes of Alzheimer's disease, a number of treatment options have been proposed. These include the use of antioxidants, blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine, and improving blood flow to brain cells. There are currently no effective pharmaceutical drugs for treating AD. If someone you know has AD, I believe it is worthwhile exploring nutritional therapies.
Vitamins E and C: It's quite likely that quite a number of different antioxidants are beneficial. A highly publicized article in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the daily use of 1,000 units of Vitamin E was effective in slowing the progression of this disease. Researchers at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, Rush University, in Chicago, Illinois, found through an epidemiological survey that the use of Vitamin E and C supplements reduces the risk of developing AD.
Blocking the Breakdown of Acetylcholine: Another approach that has been tried is to prevent the degradation of acetylcholine, the brain chemical associated with learning and memory. This can be achieved by providing drugs that block the activity of the enzyme cholinesterase, which breaks down acetylcholine. Two of these drugs are tacrine (Cognex) and donezepil (Aricept). A Chinese herbal extract called huperzine A has been shown in preliminary studies to block cholinesterase even more potently than tacrine. Early studies indicate that huperzine A is much safer than tacrine. [NSP has huperzine in their Brain Protex w/Huperzine]
Improving Blood Circulation: Any step taken to reduce atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is likely to improve blood circulation to the brain. A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association had good news about the herb Ginkgo Biloba. Therapy with 40 mg of Ginkgo three times a day for one year had a positive effect in patients with AD. There are several compounds in Ginkgo that improve circulation and act as blood thinners and antioxidants. [To this end, the Mega Chel program is helpful, taken with Ginkgo Biloba]
Combination Therapy: The nutritional approach to treating patients with AD is still very new, and there are no standards that have been developed. It may take trial and error to find the ideal regimen for each patient. In addition to Antioxidants, Ginkgo, and Huperzine, B Vitamins at about two to five times the RDA should be helpful. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to obtain important carotenoids and flavonoids. [NSP has Beta Carotene w/Mixed Carotenoids] Vitamin E, between 200 and 400 units a day, preferably of mixed tocopherols, should be taken with a meal. The dosage for Vitamin C is 250 mg once or twice a day. A 40-mg dose of Ginkgo twice daily with breakfast and lunch is recommended. Huperzine A is an exciting addition to the nutritional armamentarium of natural therapies for AD. A dosage of 0.02 to 0.05 mg per day can be tried instead of the standard cholinesterase inhibitors.
Summary Finding: An effective therapy for AD is very challenging. However, with a great deal of patience, and trial and error, it is likely that a combination of nutrients can be found that can improve quality of life and cognitive function. Even though many nutritional options have been presented in this article, it is important not take all of these supplements at the same time, but to gradually add one, and then another, in low dosages in order to determine the effectiveness of each addition. The use of nutrients is especially appropriate in the treatment of AD since currently there is no effective pharmaceutical therapy for this condition.
Ray Sahelian, M.D., is the author of the newly published Mind Boosters: A Guide to Natural Supplements That Enhance Your Mind, Memory, and Mood (St. Martins Press, $14.95, 2000). For more details, updates, and to ask questions, see www.raysahelian.com.
Le Bars, P.L., et al. 1997. A placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized trial of an extract of Ginkgo Biloba for dementia. JAMA 278:1327-1332.
Morris, M.C., et al. 1998. Vitamin E and Vitamin C supplement use and risk of incident Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer. Dis. Assoc. Disord.Sep;12(3):121-6.
Sano, M., Ernesto, C., Thomas, R.G., et al. 1997. A controlled trial of selegiline, alpha-tocopherol, or both as treatment for Alzheimer's disease. N. Engl. J. Med. 336:1216-1222.
Xu, S.S., et al. 1995. Efficacy of oral huperzine-A on memory, cognition, and behavior in Alzheimer's disease. Chung Kuo Yao Li Hsueh Pao 16(5):391-5. -Richard Ask