Russell Setright Naturopath
Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist, Herbal Medicine, Remedial Therapies, Advanced Life Support Educator, Medical Writer, Consultant to Blackmores, accredited EMT.
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Brain Active helps improve performance on sustained attention and working memory tasks, compared with placebo.
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE& MEMORY
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for around 50 per cent of all senile dementia sufferers and without doubt, as we grow older, this form of dementia is the most dreadful. This disease is distinguished by a steady and progressive loss of memory due to the deterioration of brain function and wasting. This deterioration is also associated with the presence of tangles of fibres and plaques within the brain nerve cells.
Alzheimer’s disease may begin at any age after forty but is most likely to affect individuals over fifty years of age. Over the years there has been a better understanding of this disease, but with all our modern technology and knowledge, modern medicine still has no answer to its treatment and/or cause.
There are many theories regarding the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, ranging from genetic deficiencies to slow acting viruses and although these may indeed have merit, I believe that nutritional deficiencies and toxic mineral accumulation over the years may be the key to the cause of both Alzheimer’s disease and other types of senile dementia.
Eating correctly from a variety of foods each day is a must because the diet is the main source of essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a healthy body and mind. Many studies have shown that patients suffering from dementia are deficient in one or more of the important vitamins or minerals and if their levels are too low the result may be dementia.
Dietary supplementation with antioxidants including beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) vitamins C, folic acid and E and the minerals zinc and selenium could be vital in protecting the brain from free radical damage, a possible cause of dementia and premature ageing.
has been shown to be deficient in nearly 60 per cent of Alzheimer’s patients. This essential vitamin is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E also helps to maintain a healthy vascular system and reduces the viscosity (thickness) of the blood, reducing the incidence of blood clots in the brain, a major cause of CVA (stroke).
Supplementing with vitamin E may help prevent the intellectual decline that can come with aging. Researchers reported that among 1,800 adults ages 50 to 75, those with higher vitamin E levels were less likely to have low scores on a standardized test of intellectual capacity. Low scores, they noted, indicate intellectual decline and possible dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, a progressive brain disorder marked by memory loss, confusion and problems with perception.
The effect of vitamin E on the study subjects' intellectual function was weak but consistent, according to researchers led by Dr. Reinhold Schmidt of Karl-Franzens University in Graz, Austria. After they accounted for other factors such as age, education level, smoking status and cholesterol levels, the relationship between vitamin E and intellectual capacity remained (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 1998;46:1407-10).
The narrowing and hardening of the arteries leading to, or in the brain can cause a reduction of blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and this is a major cause of senile dementia. By supplementing the diet with an antioxidant formula containing natural beta-carotene, vitamins C, E, B6, B12 and folic acid, along with the minerals zinc and selenium, will ensure that these important nutrients are included in your daily diet that may help promote a healthy vascular system.
Long-term supplementation of daily folic acid and vitamin B-12 was found to promote improvements in cognitive functioning after 24 months, particularly in immediate and delayed memory performance (Walker, G, et al. Am J Clin Nutr January 2012 vol. 95 no. 1 194-203).
A study of four hundred and ninety-eight community-dwelling women found higher dietary intake of vitamin D was associated with a lower risk of developing Alzhiemer’s Disease (Annweiler, C. et al. Higher Vitamin D Dietary Intake Is Associated With Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease: A 7-Year Follow-up. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci (2012).
This was also confirmed in a Meta-analysis of 37 studies where the authors concluded lower vitamin D concentrations are associated with poorer cognitive function and a higher risk of AD(Balion, C. et al. Vitamin D, cognition, and dementia A systematic review and meta-analysis Neurology September 25, 2012 vol. 79 no. 13 1397-1405)
In the treatment and prevention of senile dementia the herbs Ginkgo biloba, Ginseng and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) have been shown to be of benefit. Clinical studies have found that the ancient herb Ginkgo biloba (maidenhair tree) has a positive effect on the mental performance and vigilance of the elderly. This herb also helps to improve the memory by increasing the blood flow to the brain and its uptake of carbohydrates. In a meta-analysis of more than 50, English and non-English articles regarding Ginkgo biloba Ginkgo, found a significant effect in the improvement of cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease patients (Oken B S, et al, Arch Neurol, Nov, 1998;55:1409-1415). Ginkgo is available from health food stores and pharmacies and could be valuable in the treatment and prevention of many types of dementia including Alzheimer's disease.
The herb Ginseng was valued more than gold by the ancient Chinese as it was aid to slow down the ageing process, improve the memory, the concentration and the zest for life. Ginseng has undergone many clinical trials, the results of which indicate that the Chinese were correct in their evaluation of this ancient and valuable herb.
Interesting new evidence about the herb rosemary, the herb of remembrance, has come to light. Rosemary contains at least five acelycholinesterase inhibitors, these inhibitors may prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter that's breakdown is also thought to be associated with the progression of Alzheimer's disease. This herb also contains about 12 phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties. Studies are now under way, and the results could show that by using a little rosemary oil in the bath or on the skin each day may slow or stop the progress of Alzheimer's disease.
The herb Turmeric has been found to have positive effects on brain function. Turmeric contains curcumin that possesses many properties which may prevent or ameliorate pathological processes underlying age-related cognitive decline, dementia or mood disorders. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examined the acute (1 and 3 h after a single dose), chronic (4 weeks) and acute-on-chronic (1 and 3 h after single dose following chronic treatment) effects of solid lipid curcumin formulation (Blackmores Brian Active contains 400 mg as Longvida®) on cognitive function, mood and blood biomarkers in 60 healthy adults aged 60–85.
One hour after administration curcumin significantly improved performance on sustained attention and working memory tasks, compared with placebo. Working memory and mood (general fatigue and change in state calmness, contentedness and fatigue induced by psychological stress) were significantly better following chronic treatment. A significant acute-on-chronic treatment effect on alertness and contentedness was also observed. (Katherine HM Cox et al. Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population J Psychopharmacol October 2, 2014 0269881114552744)
Garlic has been used as a medicinal and culinary herb since ancient times and is a valuable cardiovascular tonic. Studies have shown again that history was correct in the evaluation of this herb over the centuries. The action of fresh or freeze-dried garlic can be beneficial in many ways. Investigations into garlic show that when it is taken on a regular basis it can help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure which can be responsible for strokes and diseases such as hardening and narrowing of the arteries, the known cause of dementia.
Garlic should be included in the daily diet, but if the smell is a problem look for a garlic supplement that has an enteric coating that allows the garlic to be ingested in the intestine and not the stomach resulting in all the advantages of the whole garlic herb without the smell.
A 12-month, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study using concentrated fish oil supplementation was undertaken. The fish oil supplemented group showed significant improvement in short-term and working memory, immediate verbal memory and delayed recall capability. Also, after a 12-month follow-up the fish oil supplemented group had a significantly memory (Lee, L. et al. Docosahexaenoic acid-concentrated fish oil supplementation in subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI): a 12-month randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Psychopharmacology August 2012)
An increase in aluminium levels has been detected in the brain cells of patients who suffer Alzheimer’s disease; many researchers believe that aluminium could be a factor in relation to the cause of the disease.
Some of these studies question the use of aluminium based antacids and deodorants as these can cause elevated aluminium levels within the body. The herb slippery elm is very effective in relieving the symptoms of gastric reflux, heartburn and ulcer pain; symptoms that many people would seek to relieve by using aluminium-based antacids. There are also alternatives to aluminium-based deodorants that are available from health food stores; choose one of these instead.
Phosphatidylserine, a chemical derived from soy lecithin may help alleviate age-related decline in memory, leaning and concentration. Phosphatidylserine is the building block of cell membranes, and is most concentrated in the brain. As we age we produce less of this important brain chemical, therefore we may need to take it as a supplement in order to maintain correct levels. Keep active both mentally and physically; the mind needs exercise as well.
Prevention is always better than cure so remember it I s never too early to start.
FIVE STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY
1. Eat a well-balanced diet, high in fibre and low in animal fats.
2. Supplement with an antioxidant formula daily.
3. Include ginkgo plus garlic and ginseng in the daily diet.
4. Avoid the use of all aluminium products.
5. Keep active both mentally and physically; the mind needs exercise too. Remember it’s never too early to start; prevention is always better than cure.
Blackmores Brain Active 1 capsule daily
Ginkgo Forte 2000 1 tablet three times daily
Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) 2.4g (eq.To fresh plant) daily
Containing bacosides A 25mg
BIO ACE Excel Antioxidant Complex 1 tablet morning and night
Fish Oil 1000mg 3 capsules daily
Folic acid 500mcg daily
Vitamin D3 1,000iu daily