Anyone who has experienced Alzheimer’s in a family member knows well that current medical treatments do not work. There is general agreement among neurologists that drugs now used in treatment of memory loss are ineffective.(2-9) In September 2010, for example, the leading medical journal, Nature Medicine, published the following header to a paper by Dr Steven Finkbeiner, Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco:
“Neurodegenerative diseases are the sixth leading cause of death in the US. The market for disease-modifying drugs is enormous, but no drug exists”.(3)
Many papers by neurologists in 2013 have the same message. From the journal, Medical Chemistry, for example,
“Drug discovery for disease-modifying agents in Alzheimer’s disease is facing a failure of clinical trials”.(6)
Memory Loss Begins Early in Adult Life
Don’t ignore the elephant. Memory loss is not a disorder of the old. It begins early. Comparisons of samples of normal adults of different ages show that memory declines with age across the whole range from 25 to 60 years. Memory loss begins even in healthy, highly educated people in their 20s.(10-11)
In April 2011, in its first revision of Alzheimer’s criteria in 27 years, the US National Institutes of Health recognized that degeneration of the brain begins long before cognitive symptoms appear. The new criteria state:
“Converging evidence from both genetic at-risk cohorts and clinically normal older individuals suggests that the pathophysiological process of Alzheimer’s disease begins years, if not decades, before the diagnosis of clinical dementia.”(8)
Responding to this dramatic revision, and to the accelerating epidemic of Alzheimer’s in the US, in 2011 Barack Obama passed the National Alzheimer’s Protection Act, acknowledging the failure of current treatments, and pledging $100 million in grants to establish an effective treatment by 2025. Question is, can you afford to wait?
Recent research has confirmed some potent natural substances that can prevent memory loss. But pharmaceutical companies are loathe to develop them because, under current US laws, they are not patentable. Thus they cannot receive the 16 years patent protection necessary to recoup their expenses for the 13 years and the hundreds of millions of dollars it costs to get new treatments through the FDA.
Dr Francis Collins Head of the National Institutes of Health deplores the costs, and the current 13 year wait, but doubts that there is any way to significantly shorten the time or reduce the expense. So it will likely be 2024 before we see new treatments in place. If you want to protect your memory, you have to do it yourself. Here is some of the recent science that we use in the Colgan Institute Brain Program to stop memory loss.
Colgan Institute Brain Program
At the Colgan Institute we have been developing our Brain Program since 1997, when we first began using nutrients to treat brain damage caused by concussion in professional athletes. We have sought out those natural substances that have multiple controlled trials supporting their benefits for memory and decision making. We have also sought out those nutrients that work synergistically with each other. And we have sought out those nutrients that have zero toxicity in controlled trials, and that have the least allergic and sensitivity reactions.
We first published a combination we found successful in treating brain damage in case studies of athletes in 2005. (8) Other researchers have now used similar combinations with great success. In the most recent study, over six months, researchers at the University of California Medical School improved memory and cognition of 30 NFL players with long-standing brain damage.(12)
In this short article I can cover only six of the main nutrients we use. All have been confirmed to benefit memory by controlled trials in laboratories throughout the world.
ONE CAUTION. I have no knowledge of you personally, nor of the sources you may use to obtain nutrients. Consequently, any use you make of the science in this article has to be at your own choice and risk.
The FDA warns consumers that approximately one in four supplements sold over the internet and in health food stores contains only a fraction of the stated ingredients, or contains banned substances or drugs, or is contaminated.(13)
For a decade now controlled trials have shown that acetyl-L-carnitine reverses memory loss in rats, beagle dogs, and human patients.(14-18)
A special issue of the top journal, Neuropharmacology, will be published in January 2014, entitled, The Synaptic Basis of Neurodegenerative Disorders.(19) That issue confirms the current science showing that acetyl-L-carnitine can maintain and even restore human memory.
We have used acetyl-L-carnitine for the last two decades with great benefit in more than 1500 cases, in amounts of 1000-2000 mg taken in the mornings with food. It also formed part of the supplement used in the successful research with the brain-damaged.
Part 2 will cover more nutrients.
1. Hebert LE, Weuve J, Scherr PA, Evans DA. Alzheimer disease in the United States (2010-2050) estimated using the 2010 census. Neurology. 2013 May 7;80(19):1778-83.
2. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Alzheimer's Drug Discovery. September 14-15, 2009. Jersey City, New Jersey, USA. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2010 May;7(3):188-279.
3. Finkbeiner S. Bridging the Valley of Death of therapeutics for neurodegeneration. Nature Medicine 2010:16:1227–1232.
4. Popp J, Arlt S.Pharmacological treatment of dementia and mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2011;24:556-61.
5. Calzà L, et al. From the Multifactorial Nature of Alzheimer`s Disease to Multitarget Therapy: The Contribution of the Translational Approach. Curr Top Med Chem. 2013;13(15):1843-52.
6. Karakaya T, et al. Pharmacological Treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment as a Prodromal Syndrome of Alzheimer´s Disease. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2013 Jan;11(1):102-8.
7. Sperling R, et al. Toward defining the preclinical stages of Alzheimer's disease: Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association Workgroup http://www.alz.org/research/diagnostic_criteria/ Alzheimer’s Dement, 2011.
8. Colgan M. Save Your Brain. Vancouver: Science Books, 2008.
Colgan M. The Anti-Inflammatory Athlete. Vancouver: Science Books 2012.
9. Bender AR et al. Psychol Aging. 2010 December; 25(4): 940–948. doi: 10.1037/a0020595.
10. Salthouse TA. When does age-related cognitive decline begin? Neurobiol Aging. 2009 Apr;30(4):507-14.
11. Amen DG, Wu JC, Taylor D, Willeumier K. Reversing brain damage in former NFL players: implications for traumatic brain injury and substance abuse rehabilitation. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2011 Jan-Mar;43(1):1-5
12. US Food and Drug Administration http://www.fda.gov/ForConsume…/ConsumerUpdates/ucm246744.htm
13. Virmani A, Binienda Z. Role of carnitine esters in brain neuropathology. Mol Aspects Med. 2004 Oct-Dec;25(5-6):533-49.
14. Goo MJ, Choi SM, Kim SH, Ahn BO.Protective effects of acetyl-L-carnitine on neurodegenarative changes in chronic cerebral ischemia models and learning-memory impairment in aged rats. Arch Pharm Res. 2012 Jan;35(1):145-54. doi: 10.1007/s12272-012-0116-9.
15. Zhou P, Chen Z,, et al. Acetyl-L-carnitine attenuates homocysteine-induced Alzheimer-like histopathological and behavioral abnormalities. Rejuvenation Res. 2011 Dec;14(6):669-79. doi: 10.1089/rej.2011.1195.
16. Milgram NW, Araujo JA, Hagen TM, Treadwell BV, Ames BN. Acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid supplementation of aged beagle dogs improves learning in two landmark discrimination tests. FASEB J. 2007 Nov;21(13):3756-62
17. Montgomery SA, Thal LJ, Amrein R. Meta-analysis of double blind randomized controlled clinical trials of acetyl-L-carnitine versus placebo in the treatment of mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer's disease. Int Clin Psychopharmacol, 2003;18:61-71.
18. Wang X, et al. Acetyl-l-carnitine rescues scopolamine-induced memory deficits by restoring insulin-like growth factor II via decreasing p53 oxidation. Neuropharmacology.2014, Jan;76 Pt A:80-7.