Dr Dale Bredesen sits down with Dr Daniel and Tana Amen to discuss the serious threat Alzheimer’s disease still represents to the world’s population. Bredesen shares how difficult getting a simple trial approved by the Institutional Review Board can be and how some groundbreaking work is being overshadowed, thanks to corporate interest.
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.
The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information visit amenclinics.com.
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Welcome everyone. We are so excited to have Dr. Dale Bredesen back with us. He’s one of our most popular podcast guests. And I think it’s because he is a purveyor of rational hope, and he’s the author of the international bestseller book The End of Alzheimer’s. There’s The End of Alzheimer’s Program. He published a study showing that you could revert Alzheimer’s. That was huge. It got international press. And I just love him. I love his work.
And in a time of pandemic, when the isolation, which we know, Dale, is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, chronic stress, the people gained weight during this time. How do people manage their brains during a pandemic?
Dr. Dale Bredesen:
You know, that’s a great point, and it’s always great to talk to you too. And as you indicated that people get what’s called a COVID cushion. They get that extra 10 or 20 pounds with COVID-19 as they’re sitting inside. Many of us are doing a little worry eating and the social isolation.
We saw this on the trial that we just finished. We had a very exciting trial, finished in December and many people would improve. And then toward the end of it, as COVID hit, when we were toward the end of our trial, people would have a little falloff at the end because of all these things. Because you know, there’s more depression. There’s more anxiety. This is your area of great expertise.
So I think you’re right. Essentially, we’re changing the way we think about living on a day-to-day basis. Even though we may be sheltering in place and social distancing, we’re able to do more family things. We’re able to do more with our pod, with our group. We’re able to get out there. I find I don’t have to fly as much as I used to. Get out there and been playing some pickleball with the family. Get out there and hit some tennis balls. Get out there and do some biking and some swimming, and all of the things that you may not have had time to do before. I think it’s a time to pull your network together and to have more interaction.
And you’re right. You do have to spend more time thinking about what you’re putting in your mouth. No question about it. One of the things that’s helped is all of the wearables, all of the quantified self. It is a time when you can follow yourself. And it’s even more important to get that feedback, whether you like to use Oura Ring, whether you like to use… I like my Apple Watch, so check my heart rate variability every day. I can check how much sleep I’ve been doing and do the breath exercise several times a day, and whether you like meditation.
I think there are so many things, but you’re absolutely right. You have to think about this. You have to think actively about prevention and about supporting your own cognition. And with many of the things that you and Tana have talked about in your books over the years.
I know. Our work dovetails so beautifully. I think the hope is you should be on an Alzheimer’s prevention program from before conception. Right?
Right [crosstalk [00:04:31].
I mean ultimately before conception. Right? But embedding your ideas into society as early as possible. One of the things we’ve talked about before we came on was my work within NFL players, that so many of them, they don’t want to come and get scanned because they don’t want to know, because they’re so worried about ending up with CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Well somehow they think not knowing is going to make it better, which-
Well, and that’s so true with Alzheimer’s disease. The fact is, if you’re going to play a brain-damaging sport or work in a brain-damaging profession, you should be doing prevention as soon as you start that. Given the numbers, Alzheimer’s is expected to triple in the next 25, 30 years, isn’t that the statistic?
Absolutely. I think a statistic that really has impressed me, is that if you look at the horror of COVID-19, it is now killed over half a million people. Nearly 100 times the number of people who have been killed by COVID so far will die of Alzheimer’s of currently living Americans, so it’s about 15% of the population that died. So as large as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, the Alzheimer’s pandemic dwarfs it in terms of the numbers. Now, of course, it’s not as quick. It’s over time, so people tend to forget about it. But many, many more of the currently living Americans will die from Alzheimer’s than from COVID-19.
So you’re absolutely right. People should be on prevention for years ahead of time. And, you know, Daniel and Tana, the thing that happens is the experts tell people, “You know there’s nothing you can do about CTE, and there’s nothing you can do about Alzheimer’s, so therefore don’t find out.” And that’s one of the reasons that people stick their heads in the sand. If we could get everybody to come and find out, get on that prevention, or if you’ve already started with symptoms, get on reversal. Do it early.
With the trial, we found that everybody could improve. The only ones who didn’t were the ones who were very far along and who simply wouldn’t do the appropriate things. We have one person who just wouldn’t get out of a house that had massive mycotoxins, for example.
So the bottom line is, there is a tremendous amount you can do. That’s the word that needs to get out to everybody who plays football, everyone who has head trauma, everyone at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Talk about the trial. I know it’s not published yet, but you finished it, you said, in December?
December. Yeah, we just finished it in December.
I said how exciting.
Yes. This has been a while in the making. So as you can imagine, when we were working actually back in the lab back in 2011, we realized when we had developed a drug that looked very nice, that looked like it changed this ratio of the synaptoclastic peptides, the ones that are causing pullback, to the synaptoblastic peptides, the ones that were actually allowing you to make and keep new connections, we were very excited about that.
So we thought, “Okay, great. We want to test this drug.” But then we realized, “Okay, wait, there are all these other pathways. We’re really going to have to do a very comprehensive trial.” So we proposed the first comprehensive trial back in 2011, and we were turned down by the IRB. They said, “You can’t do a multi-variable trial. It’s got to be one thing.” We said, “Well, wait a minute. This is not a one thing disease.” So we thought, “Okay, we’ve got to put together anecdotes.”
Then, Daniel, just as you said, we started publishing the anecdotes. 2014, 2016, 2018, we published a hundred examples with documented improvement. And then in 2018, after those 100, we went back, and we got turned down again by the IRB because everybody wants you to do these single variable trials, which really doesn’t make sense. Finally, 2019, we got okayed for a small proof-of-concept trial. This will now lead to a much bigger trial. This first one was just 25 people, but we very extensively evaluated each one.
You flip the script just as you do with your NFL players that you’ve looked at. You’re flipping the script to say, “Instead of predetermining a treatment, which really makes no sense in cognitive decline, why give everyone the exact same thing?” We’re saying, “Why did each person get this?” In some case, it was their leaky gut. In some cases, it was metabolic syndrome. In some cases, a number of these people had mycotoxins. Some of them had tick-borne illnesses. You’ve got to, as you well know, you’ve got to address the things that are causing it, so we did that for all these 25 people. They had extensive evaluations. They went on a precision medicine protocol. We finished in December, and the vast majority of them showed an improvement.
I want to make one important point here. There was a huge announcement three weeks ago from Eli Lilly in which they said, “We didn’t make people better with our drug donanemab. We didn’t even stabilize people, but we slowed the decline by one third.” In one day, the stock for that company rose by $20 billion for the total value of the company because of saying, “We slowed it by one third.” While our results were far, far superior, that we’re making people actually better, so [crosstalk [00:09:59].
What that tells me is people are desperate. They’re looking for help.
And we just have to make sure that the message we have, “You’re not stuck with the brain you have. You can make it better with a comprehensive program.” That we just have to keep hammering them over and over again.
We got to go to the next podcast, but we are so grateful. We’re with Dr. Dale Bredesen, the author of The End of Alzheimer’s and The End of Alzheimer’s Program. You have a new book coming out in August. What’s that called again?
Called The First Survivors of Alzheimer’s. Great stories from seven [inaudible [00:10:46].
They wrote their own stories. Just fantastic.
Yeah. Love that. Stay with us.
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