Are You Just Forgetful or is it Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease is on the rise and is now the third leading cause of death in America. Women are twice as likely as men to develop it. In fact, a woman in her 60s has a one in six chance of getting Alzheimer’s, while she has a one in 11 chance of getting breast cancer. If this disease continues to rise in incidence at its current rate, it could cripple our economy.

Alzheimer’s, like all degenerative diseases, begins many, many years before diagnosis. Usually, it has been developing for 30 or 40 years before a diagnosis. It is thought to be one of the only diseases that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

That all sounds like awful news, but new research shows that Alzheimer’s Disease, cognitive decline and dementia are preventable and often curable, especially if caught in the earlier stages.  A study done jointly with the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA and the Buck Institute for Research, is the first to suggest that memory loss in patients may be reversed, and improvement sustained, using a complex, 36-point therapeutic program. The therapy provided to participants would fall under the classification of Functional Medicine and is quite a different approach than traditional medicine, though it uses some of the same types of testing.

Functional Medicine is a “systems” approach, recognizing that all parts of the human are affected by all other parts. In other words, we can’t look just at the brain, we must look at all the body’s systems. Dr. Dale Bredesen, the study’s lead researcher and author of the book The End of Alzheimer’s, indicates there are six different types of Alzheimer’s, and that most patients have more than one type. Each type may have many factors needing to be addressed. The reason medicine has been unsuccessful, he says, is because they are only patching one hole in a ceiling with say, 36 holes.

This multi-faceted Functional Medicine approach to reversing and preventing cognitive decline includes comprehensive lab tests to look at the multitude of factors that can cause neurological degeneration. Then, the best protocol to reverse the problem areas is applied, which usually includes diet changes, supplements or natural therapies. The brain also would be assessed for areas of weakness and exercises tailored to the specific needs of the individual would be implemented. No one patient is the same as the next.

Genetics do appear to play a role in Alzheimer’s Disease. The ApoE4 gene is most commonly associated with the disease; however, a person without the gene can get Alzheimer’s and vice versa.

Bredesen believes that everybody over the age of 40 should have a “cognoscopy” by a properly trained Functional Medicine doctor, as most medical doctors and neurologists aren’t yet aware of this approach. If a person has any of the below symptoms, they absolutely should seek more appropriate care.

The 7 Early Signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s:

  1. General fatigue
  2. Constipation or digestion issues
  3. Apathy, depression or withdrawal
  4. Change in personality
  5. Memory loss
  6. Difficulty with learning or concentration
  7. Confusion

Dr. Maria Maricich is a Functional Medicine Doctor and a Doctor of Chiropractic. In her 27 years of practice in Ketchum, Dr. Maria’s passion has been to offer the most up-to-date approaches to optimal health and wellbeing. Functional Medicine and Functional Neurology are emerging new fields of medicine. Their objective is to find dysfunction that leads to disease, rather than disease itself. Treating the dysfunction by natural means allows the body to heal itself whether disease is present, or a person just knows they aren’t their best. It is also one of the best anti-aging measures available. She can be reached at 208-726-6010. For more information, visit her website.