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Stabilization of early Alzheimer's disease
There are now three studies in which mild Alzheimer's disease has been stabilized: panax ginseng, chinese herbs with conventional Alzheimer's medications (Aricept and/or Namenda), and Anavex 2-73. They all work by the same mechanism: limit oxidative stress, scavenge oxidants and nitro-oxidants, and partially reverse nitro-oxidative stress. The results can be seen in the links below.
Korean red ginseng
Chinese herbs plus conventional medicine
Anavex 2-73 (see page 29)
If you stabilize Alzheimer's disease early you likely stabilize it for the rest of the person's life.
For moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease, the picture becomes somewhat more murky. The items listed above appear to slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease, but not stop the progression at these stages.
Mild Alzheimer's disease primarily affects the hippocampus whereas moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease affects both the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Both are damaged by nitro-oxidative stress in Alzheimer's disease.
The hippocampi – the brain centres for learning and memory – are one of the earliest regions to be sabotaged by Alzheimer’s pathology. Our data revealed that GSH levels plummet in the hippocampi of patients with Alzheimer’s as well as those with MCI (Fig.1). The frontal cortices – brain CEOs responsible for a variety of executive functions – are chronologically affected later in Alzheimer’s.
Could it then be that GSH [glutathione] levels would be able to act like a detector test for MCI and Alzheimer’s? It appears that may well be the case. Using only GSH levels in the hippocampi and frontal cortices as indicators, we were able to differentiate between healthy subjects and MCI patients as well as between patients with MCI and Alzheimer’s with a remarkably high accuracy.
The damage done to the hippocampus appears to be partially reversible at any stage of Alzheimer's disease. People can remember their name again, recognize their home, complete phrases, repeat the alphabet, count numbers, engage in conversations, recognize relatives, be more alert and aware, etc.
Here are a couple of examples for late Alzheimer's disease. One is rosemary an antioxidant and the second is bryostatin-1 which may help with memory loss due to NMDA hypofunction late in Alzheimer's disease.
[Bryostatin-1 recepient] was given multiple infusions over a period of 5 months. He became more alert and engaged, watched TV, began speaking, and requested to return to work. The improvements lasted for several weeks, after which the treatment was discontinued due to non-drug-related infections.
The [second] patient, who had previously been largely immobile and absorbed in constant hallucinations that had occurred for many months prior to the bryostatin trial, became free of hallucinations, became mobile, able to feed himself, care for bodily functions, speak and recognize words, interact conversationally with others, and engage successfully in complex physical activities such as swimming and billiards.
However as yet, no drug or natural compound has restored prefrontal cortex function which includes retrieval of memory of events and the ability to put words and thoughts into logical order. Perhaps antioxidants are more effective in the hippocampus than in the preforntal cortex. Or perhaps by the time they help reverse damage in the hippocampus there is nothing left for the prefrontal cortex.
We have the opportunity to prevent the progression of early Alzheimer's disease and to contribute to some improvements in memory in those with late Alzheimer's disease.