Dementia is a devastating condition affecting upwards of 10,000,000 Americans, with approximately 5 million having Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Research shows that at autopsy, the majority of people previously diagnosed with Alzheimer's never actually had it. They had other, sometimes treatable (but missed), causes of their dementia.
Dementia can be triggered by numerous causes including Alzheimer's, multi-infarct dementia, medications, hidden infections and inflammation, and nutritional deficiencies. Current treatment is geared towards prescribing two barely helpful (but very profitable) medications, Aricept® and Namenda. Aside from this, little is usually done.
It isn't because these drugs aren't helpful. But rather it's because they're so inexpensive that there's little profit incentive in the medical industry to make physicians more aware of them — as well-meaning as most physicians are. Wondering if this is so? Ask your doctor if they've seen the studies I discuss below. If not, they may want to explore why, as it will blow their minds to realize just how much Big Pharma controls their education!
Best for Fibromyalgia:
To support cognitive health in general, especially those with fibromyalgia, my favorite tools are:
Fortunately, A lot can be done to prevent or slow Alzheimer’s and dementia. Especially that from the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. In fact, repeated autopsy studies have shown that 30-50% of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's didn't have the slightest trace of the illness. Instead, they had other, potentially reversible, causes of their dementia!
Below are my top 7 tips to help optimize and maintain cognitive function in people in general! I've organized them using the easy-to-remember pneumonic "DEMENTIA," which represents:
- Metabolic issues
- Ears and eyes
- Tumors and other issues in the brain
- Infections, Anemia and other overt medical problems
Let's go through each.
Get off unnecessary drugs, as some can contribute to cognitive impairment.
Anticholinergic medications, or "ACs," (benadryl, tricyclic antidepressants, incontinence meds) are especially problematic. Risk for cognitive impairment increased 50% in adults who received at least 3 mild ACs for more than 90 days and 100% in those who received 1 or more severe ACs for more than 60 days. An exception is blood pressure medication, which can be protective, especially Beta Blockers such as Inderal and Ace Inhibitors.
Common Drugs That Often Cause Memory Loss:
- Antianxiety drugs
- Cholesterol drugs
- Antiseizure drugs
- Antidepressant drugs
- Narcotic painkillers
- Parkinson's drugs
- Hypertension drugs
- Sleeping aids
- Incontinence drugs
2. Emotions (Depression, Anxiety and Sleep)
Natural remedies can be especially helpful here, without the worsening often caused by medications. For example, a special form of curcumin BCM-95® Curcumin (provided in the nutritional supplement CuraMed®, 500+ mg 2x daily) was more effective for depressed mood than antidepressants in 2 six-week long head-to-head studies (also see "Nutrition" below). For anxiety and sleep, a special component of Echinacea provided in a product called AnxioCalm® can be very helpful with no side effects. Terrific ZZZZ™, Revitalizing Sleep Formula, and a special melatonin called Melatonin EP120™ with sustained release 10 mg melatonin can also be very helpful for sleep.
3. Metabolic Issues
This means optimizing bioidentical hormone levels, as studies have shown:
- Low-normal thyroid levels were associated with a 240% higher risk of dementia in women. Borderline elevated thyroid had as much as a 800% higher risk in men. I consider a trial of prescription desiccated thyroid if the free T4 blood test is low normal in those with fatigue or cognitive issues.
- Every 50% increase in free testosterone in the bloodstream was associated with a 26% decrease in the risk of developing Alzheimer's. I keep testosterone levels over 550 ( preferably over 800).
- Men who developed Alzheimer's disease had about half the free testosterone in their bloodstreams as men who did not.
4. Ears and Eyes
Get regular vision and eye exams to optimize function.
Optimize key areas of nutrition. Begin with good common sense and a whole-food diet low in gluten. Drinking tea may help as well. For specific nutrients:
- Optimize folate, B12 and B vitamins. Check your vitamin B12 level (keep it over 540) and homocysteine level (keep it under 9). Better yet, simply take a high-potency multivitamin. I recommend Clinical Essentials™ tablets, which supplies virtually all the needed nutrients in optimal amounts in 2 tablets. Research in JAMA Psychiatry supports this. The VITACOG study, in which 271 individuals older than 70 years who had mild cognitive issues and received supplementation with high-dose folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, confirmed what other studies showed. "They lost less brain compared to people who had normal homocysteine and normal vitamin levels, meaning that those with high levels of homocysteine or with clinical or biochemical vitamin deficiency can benefit from supplementation," said study author Dr Hooshmand. Recent research shows low vitamin D is also a concern for poor cognition, which is also addressed by the multivitamin.
- Take a special, highly absorbed form of curcumin called BCM-95® Curcumin (provided in the nutritional supplement CuraMed®). Take 750 mg 2x day (it would take 14-600 caps a day of other forms to get the same effect as this brand, so brand matters). The prevalence of Alzheimer's in India is 70% lower than in the US, and this has been traced to the curcumin in their diet, which shows promise in many neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson's.
- Explore ketogenic diets, which focus on consuming low-carb, high-fat foods (e.g., fatty fish, eggs, coconut oil, etc). I recommend reading the book Alzheimer's Disease: What If There Was a Cure? The Story of Ketones (Second Edition) by Mary T. Newport, M.D.
6. Tumors and Other Issues in the Brain
Dementia is a very good reason to get a CT Scan or Head MRI.
7. Infections, Anemia and Other Overt Medical Problems
The potential of developing dementia means it's time to get a thorough checkup from both a neurologist and your holistic physician (visit The Institute of Functional Medicine to find one)
With these 7 commonsense, research-proven tips, you can often prevent, and sometimes even reverse, dementia!
"Hospital Induced Delirium & Dementia"
In a topic related to dimentia or dimentia-like behavior, let's consider how to support a family member of yours if they should become hospitalized and exhibit signs of cognitive confusion, a topic I'll call "Hospital Induced Delirium & Dementia."
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.