Coconut oil, Alzheimer’s disease, Seizures, Autism and more

As I mentioned a few months ago in this newsletter, researchers are now looking at Alzheimer’s disease as a new form of diabetes and the expressions “Type 3 Diabetes” and “Diabetes of the Brain” have been coined. More specifically, in Alzheimer’s disease the brain loses its ability to burn glucose or blood sugar for energy.

As we are all taught in school, the brain – unlike other tissues – cannot burn fat for energy, so as it loses the ability to burn sugar it rapidly becomes starved for energy and begins to die. One thing that is always omitted in physiology classes is that while there is no doubt that brain cells cannot burn fat, they do have an alternative energy source, aside from sugar: ketones.

Not only can the brain use ketones for energy, it will use them preferentially over glucose when they are available, and it appears to function optimally when using ketones as its main source of energy.
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Vitamin B3 for arthritis, anxiety, behavioral problems, diabetes and maybe even Alzheimer’s

Vitamin B3, one of the B-complex vitamins, attracted little attention until a recent study from the University of California at Irvine found it to reverse Alzheimer’s disease in laboratory mice. Now you can read about this study in just about every natural medicine newsletter and if you Google it you get more than 15,000 hits.

First of all it is important to realize that this study used the “niacinamide” form of vitamin B3. This vitamin, generally referred to as niacin, actually comes in two different forms with significantly different properties. One is niacin, or nicotinic acid, and the other is niacinamide. Niacin is known to cause a flushing sensation when ingested in large doses, and to lower cholesterol.  It has also been used as a component of highly effective detoxification programs involving sauna therapy.
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Your liver: the key to good health

About a year ago I attended a conference on autism at which a key speaker opened his remarks by asking what did breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity and autism all have in common. Most of the audience, made up entirely of doctors and nutritionists, looked puzzled and there were quite a few blank stares as people struggled to find an answer. When the answer was finally given it came as quite a surprise to many: a faulty liver!

How can this possibly be? It is because the liver is the most metabolically active organ in the body. It is where fat and calories are burned. It is also where toxins from the environment and those the body itself produces are processed so that they can be excreted from the body. If the liver doesn’t do this job well toxins will be retained and, over time, cause damage to the brain, heart, breasts or any other organ or part of the body.
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Nutrition and the mind: amino acid therapy for depression and much more

As my nutrition practice turns ten years old, it is a good time for me to reflect on lessons I have learned about the effects of nutritional therapy on the mind. Though nutrition is a second career for me, and one to which I came relatively late in life, it is the realization of my lifelong interest in psychology and the mind in general.

While at an earlier point in my life I might have chosen to study psychology or psychotherapy, by the time I was finally able to embrace this field I had learned enough about the interaction between the mind and chemistry or nutrition to know that nutritional medicine held far more powerful answers than any type of talk therapy.

This interest led me to chiropractic school in a roundabout way, basically because I felt I needed some medical training and a license that would enable me to practice. In any case, while in school and in my first years of practice I took every seminar and advanced training I could find on clinical nutrition. However, seminars on nutrition for the mind are rare, when available at all, and consequently the field is replete with preconceived ideas and unsubstantiated theories.
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Can pulsed electromagnetic fields make your (or your child’s) brain grow stronger?

Yes, concludes a study recently reported by New Scientist magazine. The study was carried out at City University in New York where researchers used pulsed electromagnetic fields directed at the brains of mice for a period of five days.

At the end of the experiment, the mice were sacrificed and their brains analyzed under a microscope. What the researchers found was remarkable: compared to controls, the brains of treated mice had developed stronger connections between neurons, indicating better function.

This by itself would have been significant enough, but researchers found more: in treated mice the brains showed proliferation of stem cells in areas associated with learning, memory, and moods. It is now known that stem cells are present and divide throughout life in the brain, where scientists believe they play a determining role in preserving health and repairing damage. Therefore any therapy found to activate stem cells could also stimulate healing of the brain and, conceivably, recovery from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and possibly even autism.

You can read about the study at
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Inflammation and Alzheimer’s Disease

Several studies have shown that chronic inflammation of the brain plays a role in causing Alzheimer’s disease and that long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is associated with a lower risk of contracting this disease. However, NSAIDs taken over long periods of time can cause gastrointestinal, liver and renal toxicity.

In one study (J Neurosci 2001;21:8370-7) researchers evaluated the common Indian spice turmeric in mice. After six months of use, the mice eating the turmeric had a significant reduction in two markers of inflammation in the brain and also had less free radical damage to brain cells without experiencing any side effects. Incidentally, mice receiving less turmeric every day did better than those fed larger amounts. The most beneficial dose would be roughly equivalent to 1,600 mg of curcumin per day for a 150 lbs person. Curcumin is believed to be the most active ingredient in turmeric. Researchers caution that, even though this preliminary study is promising, there still is no research in humans on the effects of turmeric.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: a comparative study of Americans and Africans

This study (JAMA 2001;285 (6):796-8) followed two groups of men and women aged 65 and over for about five years. The first group was made up of African-Americans from Indianapolis and the second group was composed of Africans living in Nigeria. At the end of the study, after adjusting for all other variables, the American group proved to have more than double the rate of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia than the African group. This study again suggests that dementia is an environmental rather than a genetic disorder.

Inflammation May Cause Alzheimer’s Disease

Inflammation has been linked with heart disease and cancer, the two major killers of our time. Now, a recent study (Nature Med. 2000;6(9):973-974) has found that people who took a daily dose of ibuprofen had a reduced incidence of Alzheimerís disease as compared to the general population.

Since ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug, this study suggests that inflammation, probably of the brain, can lead to senile dementia and, therefore, that controlling such inflammation can have a protective effect.

The question is then whether a drug like ibuprofen is a wise choice for long-term protection from inflammation since its side effects include an increased risk of stomach ulcers.

Future research is likely to show that a complex set of causes interact to trigger inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease. In the meantime, avoiding allergic foods, eating a diet low in sugar and junk food, and balancing body chemistry through a targeted supplement program may be our best plan of action. If needed, dietary supplements – such as fish oil and the pineapple enzyme bromelain – are strong natural anti-inflammatories that have no adverse side effects.