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A recent shift in treating patients with cognitive decline diagnoses such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has been to focus more on the underlying factors that increase your risk and less on its symptoms. Perhaps the most common of these underlying factors is inflammation. In the second episode of a series with Dr. Dale Bredesen, he and the Amens explore the connection between inflammation and your brain, and why you should be checking and tracking your inflammatory markers.
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
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Welcome back. We are still here with our friend and colleague, Dr. Dale Bredesen. And we’re talking about his program, The End of Alzheimer’s. We talked about his book, what probably a year ago, at least. And now we’re talking about the program. This is the how to, and we’re just having so much fun, well, I’m having fun because I like to geek out on this stuff as a neurosurgical ICU nurse. So this is just so interesting. But for me, this is personal, Dr. Bredesen, because as someone whose father was misdiagnosed and when we got him on the right medications and off the wrong medications and got him doing a program that’s actually very similar to yours, very similar to what you talk about before I even knew you, he radically transformed his life and was preaching and doing all day seminars within a matter of months. So talk to us about what’s in this program that can literally give people their lives back.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Right. So we have just followed in this program directly from the test tube. What are the things that drive the underlying pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s? So you can literally follow, as I mentioned before, you can follow a nuclear factor kappa b, as an example, anything that’s causing inflammation from oral bacteria, like p gingivalis or T denticola or f nucleatum to herpes simplex, to molds that can collect in your sinuses to, of course, HHV-6 is another herpes virus that can get into your brains. As you know, the studies of brains even include candida, finding candida in the brain. So identifying the things that are driving the process, and then simply changing that ratio of the app signal. So you’re changing from a synaptic classic signaling where you’re pulling back based on these various factors to a synaptic blastic signaling, where you are growing forward making and keeping connections.
And so we start by looking at what are the dominant ones and what subtype. When you start looking, you can see that there are these subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease, and then you want to address those. So for this book, I actually worked with two other people. So I was very excited to do this with Julie G, who is a user who’s actually been using this and has gone from 35th percentile on cognitive scores to 98th percentile. She’s an APOE4 four with a strong family history. She’s now been on eight years doing extremely well. And so she has all sorts of workarounds and things that she’s done that have been very helpful. And then my wife, Dr. Aida Lasheen Bredesen, who is an integrative practitioner. So what do you do? And you actually have to look at, is there ongoing inflammation?
And so you then want to address that inflammation. Of course, leaky gut is a huge issue, making sure that you have the appropriate microbiome. And of course the microbiome is different in Alzheimer’s disease, on average than it is in control patients who don’t have Alzheimer’s disease. And then it is supporting insulin sensitivity. It is inducing some mild ketosis, because of course, as your SPECT scan showed Daniel, there is an energy failure in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s and for about 10 years or more before Alzheimer’s is diagnosed. So we want to get an early, we want to support the energy. One of the things that’s come out in the last several years is how incredibly common nocturnal hypoxia is in these patients.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Wow.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: So patients who are beginning to have cognitive [crosstalk [00:04:20].
Daniel Amen, MD: That’s been one of our big risk factors.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Exactly.
Daniel Amen, MD: So what I hear you saying and how I’m almost listening to myself except you’re saying more [crosstalk [00:04:28].
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Yeah. You guys are very similar.
Daniel Amen, MD: … Scientific way. Is the first thing to do is know your important health numbers.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Yes.
Daniel Amen, MD: That’s the first thing. And the famous business consultant said, you can’t change what you don’t measure. Peter Drucker said, you can’t change what you don’t measure. And I heard you say, well, we need to check for inflammation.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Yeah.
Daniel Amen, MD: And so we use C-reactive protein, there are other ways to check for it.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Well, one thing that I heard him say that, and I want to bring this up because all of our brainiac friends that are on our show say the same thing. And this is just so important because I know people still get tripped up by this. All over the brain doctors on our show, including us, the gut, it’s the gut, the gut brain connection. It’s one of the things we have to pay attention to.
Daniel Amen, MD: From a practical standpoint, people should be getting their important numbers checked likely on a yearly basis. So some measure of inflammation. What else do you use to test for inflammation?
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Yeah. We often use albumin to globulin ratio. It’s a time honored and inexpensive way to get at the same thing. Sometimes TNF, so tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin six and interleukin eight are both increased often, again within an influent inflammatory state. And then of course, for people who have inflammation with respect to the innate immune system, you can look at things like C4A or TGFB1. Those are also good ones to look at. And one of the interesting businesses you know that’s come up with COVID-19 is that COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s have many parallels.
And in fact, many of these comorbidities we talk about with Alzheimer’s as risk factors are comorbidities that predict a core outcome from COVID-19. But instead of over 20 years, everything’s compressed into two weeks. So things like low sync, low vitamin D, obesity, type two diabetes, hypertension, these are all important in Alzheimer’s, they are also important in COVID-19. So we want to look at [crosstalk [00:06:54].
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Yeah. So interesting.
Daniel Amen, MD: [crosstalk [00:06:55]. Your best defense against COVID-19 is your immune system not…
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Exactly. And the innate. Yeah.
Daniel Amen, MD: So inflammation also Omega-3 Index.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Absolutely.
Daniel Amen, MD: Because we did a study 49 out of 50 consecutive patients had suboptimal levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can increase inflammation. You also said, I have meeting with my dentist next week, that gum disease is a major cause of inflammation, so taking care of your teeth is absolutely [crosstalk [00:07:34].
Tana Amen, BSN RN: So many people think, “Well, if I just eat right.” When I met you, and I’m a nurse, and I went to Loma Linda where they’re very nutrition conscious. And when I met you, my Omega-3 fatty acid ratio was horrific and my vitamin D was 17. And I’m like, “How is that possible?”
Daniel Amen, MD: Because you can’t change what you don’t [inaudible [00:07:57].
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Right.
Dr. Dale Bredesen: Yeah. Absolutely.
Daniel Amen, MD: So in The End of Alzheimer’s Program, you tell people what lab tests that they should get. Now you mentioned infections like herpes 6. So many people are positive. Just because you’ve been exposed in the past, so you have IgG antibodies to whether it’s herpes whichever one or CMV or Epstein-Barr, how do you know if it’s significant and you should talk to your doctor about treating it?
Dr. Dale Bredesen: It’s a great point, Daniel, and with HHV6, there is HHV6A and HHV6B and most of us are positive and have been exposed to HHV6B, the one that is more associated with cognitive decline is HHV6A. Now the research studies are just beginning to look at the ability to distinguish these. Right now, you’re right, if you get HHV6 antibodies, they’re going to be them both. They don’t distinguish between A and B. Fairly soon you’ll be able to distinguish those. And the big one to worry about is HHV6A.
So this comes back to the idea that it’s the innate system, both in COVID-19, where we’re dying of cytokine storms and in Alzheimer’s where part of the innate immune system is a beta. So you’re making this amyloid as part of your innate immune system’s response to these various pathogens or insults, but there’s the inability to hand off to the adaptive system, your T cells and B cells and the more modern part of your system, which then turns off the innate system.
So the problem is, as long as you don’t turn this off, and of course, some of the things that are abnormal in Alzheimer’s patients where they can’t turn this off and they don’t have an appropriate adaptive response happen to be things like low Omega-3s, just what you talked about and low vitamin D. These are absolutely crucial for the ability of our adaptive systems to become active and part of what they do, they not only attack the pathogens and clear them, but they also come feedback and turn off that innate system that is giving you that chronic inflammation that is giving you Alzheimer’s disease. So that’s a critical part, supporting that handoff.
Daniel Amen, MD: All right, it’s so interesting.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Yeah.
Daniel Amen, MD: It’s really groundbreaking work. Know your important health numbers, optimize them. I think optimizing them… I wrote a book called The End of Mental Illness and we just have the wrong paradigm. It’s not mental illness, it’s brain hell. And I actually got the idea from that from… I wrote a book in 2004 called Preventing Alzheimer’s, which is basically, if you want to do that, you have to prevent all the risk factors. So the synergy between our work, but as I wrote that, I’m like, “That’s also how you prevent depression. That’s also how you prevent ADHD or anxiety disorders.” It’s get the brain right, your mind is better, your cognitive function is better, your marriage is better. So your program, yes, it’s about cognitive decline, but it’s also about mood decline. And it’s also ultimately gets your brain right. Everything in your life tends to be better. All right. When we come back, we’re going to talk more about the practical application of The End of Alzheimer’s program. And we’re going to talk about the types of Alzheimer’s disease. Stay with us.
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