A new approach to treating dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) has had promising results, reversing brain decline in eighty percent of patients. In some cases, patients have increased their cognitive scores from the dementia range to normal.
A team of doctors from three different institutes were looking at innovative ways to treat dementia that differs from the conventional treatment approach. Conventional treatments that use a single treatment modality, often have poor results, due to their one-size-fits-all approach. Currently, treatments for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease do not improve the condition, but at best slow down cognitive decline.
The three different organisations involved in the trial were Functional Medicine Psychiatry and Dementia Clinic in Walnut Creek, California, Northwest Memory Care Clinic in Ashland, Oregon, and Dr. Ann Hathaway Clinic in San Rafael, California. Together they decided upon a precision treatment approach to Alzheimer’s.
Precision treatment is highly personalised for each patient, and takes a holistic approach to disease. This mode of treatment targets factors contributing to disease. Precision treatment looks at the individual’s genes, environment and lifestyle, and allows doctors to create more accurate treatments and preventative measures. This tailor-made approach has been successfully used in cancer treatment in recent years.
Senior author in the study, Professor Dale Bredesen says:
“We believe that the future of medicine, for treatment of complex chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, lies not in simplistic, single-drug medicine but rather in larger data sets and precision medicine protocols such as the one used in this trial.”
For the precision treatment study, 25 patients with dementia or MCI between the ages of 50 and 76 were recruited. Doctors evaluated factors that were associated with cognitive decline and dementia. This included looking at the patients’ insulin resistance; inflammation; gut health; genetic abnormalities such as a tendency to blood clotting; vascular abnormalities; hormones; nutrient deficiencies; and exposure to pathogens and toxins, and any other contributing factors.
Patients were treated for nine months. As part of the treatment protocol doctors set out to correct or reverse the issues listed above. Insulin sensitivity was restored, cholesterol and triglycerides lowered, hormone replacement was offered, inflammation lowered, pathogens and bacterial imbalances in the gut were treated, as was autoimmunity, and detoxification to remove toxins.
Inflammation is perhaps seen as one of the forefront causes of dementia, and so this was treated with a mix of vitamins and herbal remedies, including vitamin C and D, quercetin, liposomal glutathione, fish oil, resveratrol and boswellia. Stress management was also a key component of the study, and participants were encouraged to do 45 minutes of aerobic training a day, six days a week, and strength-training exercises twice a week.
MRI scans showed that patients increased their brains’ grey matter volume by 0.3%. Typically, those with a MCI or mild dementia see their brain’s grey matter waste away at 2.2% a year. The trial originally set out to slow the decline of the loss of grey matter, and did not expect to see improvements in this area.
Lead author Dr. Kat Toups noted, “I have been the Principal Investigator on more than 20 long-term clinical trials for patients with MCI and dementia where the benchmark for success was merely a slowing in cognitive decline. This trial is the first to show actual improvement in multiple domains of functioning, as well as improvements in MRI brain scans.”
The results of the MRI also had positive results in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory. Usually hippocampal volumes decrease in patients with MCI or Alzheimer’s disease at a rate of between 3.5–4.66 percent in a year. Those in the study saw a decrease of 1.29 percent.
The first results were recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.