Slowly losing a loved one to dementia is a devastating process. In my practice, I have witnessed the heart breaking frustration of the inevitable cognitive decline, the anger at the loss of control, the despair and fear about what the future holds for patients and their loved ones.
So far, not a single drug has been developed to stop or even slow down the progression of this devastating disease leaving those affected and their families without hope. As I therapist I felt powerless to help. So, a couple of years ago when I was told about a study from the University of California that had not only slowed down, but reversed cognitive decline, I had to find out exactly what they had done.
I was very lucky a few weeks later to receive a grant to attend a conference where the study results and methods were announced. By following the principles of Functional Medicine, the researchers achieved astounding results in reversing memory loss. Nine of the 10 participants displayed objective improvement in their memories within three to six months.
Six patients had discontinued working or had been struggling at their jobs at the time they joined the study; Remarkably ALL were able to return to their jobs or continue working with improved performance, and their improvements have been sustained. This is astonishing given the usual progressive nature of the condition.
In the study each participant was extensively tested to find out what was causing the cognitive decline in their specific case and treatments were tailored to the individual. This takes a very different approach to the one size fits all approach of western medicine where drugs are designed to treat a condition, rather than the individual. The questions the researchers asked what was causing cognitive decline for each individual and then they personalized each person’s programme.
Armed with the details of what the researchers had done, I have started integrating their approach into my practice with remarkable results. I will share a recent case with you.
David, a 76 year old man, had been an executive and had sat on boards of many large multinational companies. Over the past years since retiring, his memory had begun to decline and by the time his family brought him in, David was not able to retrieve memories of his working or family life, was no longer able to drive or even recognise friends. To David, his wife was now a stranger. The emotional distress caused both to him and his family was having a very distressing. In addition, he was having difficulty sleeping and was extremely anxious, depressed and agitated.
We ran a series of tests looking at brain neurotransmitter levels, comprehensive vitamin and mineral panels, detoxification tests and neurotoxicity tests. This identified a range of areas of pathology. I asked my colleague Jean Dow, a very skilled herbalist to join our consultations. Based on the laboratory results, we worked out a tailor made programme of nutrients, herbal medicine and biofeedback for David.
The approach has a synergistic affect whereby the individual building blocks that we add in are enhanced by the global effect of the herbal medicine. This means that the combination of the right compounds in the right amounts can have an astounding effect on overall mental health.
Now 5 months on, David is driving again. He has regained his independence to go out on his own and his sleep and mood has significantly improved. The mental and emotional rewards that comes with regaining independence is priceless.
We have been delighted with David’s progress but for us, the evidence needs to be measurable. So, I was delighted this morning to receive David’s latest neurotransmitter tests showing a much more normal brain chemistry balance in which every single neurotransmitter had significantly improved. David still has a long way to go but there are definite signs of change for the better and that is unheard of in degenerative conditions. Looking at these results today has given me so much hope for dementia patients and their families.
Neurotransmitter tests before beginning treatment
Neurotransmitter tests after 5 months of treatment
In this case we worked to reduce excitatory neurohormones that was creating agitation and anxiety, as well as replacing the nutrients required for building blocks to rebuild the memory networks. Although the individual neurohormones each have their role to play, the real magic happens once the hormones are in a balanced state. Much like an orchestra, each instrument has its role to play but unless they are perfectly orchestrated, the result can be cacophonic!
As the brain neurochemicals begin to balance, we slowly can reduce memory loss, anxiety, agitation and insomnia and create a greater quality of life!
Please find a link to the UCLA study below:
I am very passionate about helping people with dementia or Alzheimer’s regain their life. If you know anyone who could be helped by this approach, please ask them to leave a message on 0131 220 8430. Charmaine will call back and discuss whether this approach could work for you or your loved one. Visit us at www.edinburghhealth.co.uk