• Dr. Neela Sandal

Inflammation and Alzheimer’s Disease

Casting doubt that plaques are the cause

Here is this year’s big news in Alzheimer’s research: more and more evidence points to inflammation, not plaques, as the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Medications targeting plaques in the brain have not been successful in treating the disease. And treatments that focus on inflammation, like the Bredesen Protocol practiced at Atma Clinic, are able to slow and reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. In 2019, there has been increasing data explaining why a treatment that addresses inflammation is more effective than treatment that addresses plaques.

Inflammation activates the immune system. Chronic inflammation, which many people have, results in chronic activation of the immune system. This is intensified when there are multiple causes of inflammation, such as gum disease, unhealthy weight gain, high-carbohydrate diets, or mold exposure, to name just a few. 

Here is a great excerpt from Scientific American, discussing the mounting research linking brain function and immune function:

“One clue hinting at the need to look further afield [for a cause of Alzheimer’s Disease] was a close inspection of the 1918 worldwide flu pandemic, which left survivors with a higher chance of later developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.  A second inkling came from the discovery that the amyloid of Alzheimer’s and the alpha-synuclein protein that characterizes Parkinson’s are antimicrobials, which help the immune system fight off invaders.  The third piece of evidence was the finding in recent years, as more genes involved in Alzheimer’s have been identified, that traces nearly all of them to the immune system.  Finally, neuroscientists have paid attention to cells that had been seen as ancillary—“helper” or “nursemaid” cells. They have come to recognize these brain cells, called microglia and astrocytes, play a central role in brain function—and one intimately related to the immune system.”

In short: In some people, a heavy, long-term inflammatory load results in an out-of-control cascade of neuron death. That’s when brain function is compromised, memory starts to fail, and mood starts to change. 

At the beginning, sometimes only the patient can tell she has lost some function: she can’t remember the grocery list as well as she used to, she has unusual difficulty remembering books she’s read, or she has started to make detailed lists and notes to get through her workday. But if the chronic inflammation and immune activation continue unabated, the symptoms steadily worsen. 

To contact Atma Clinic to explore your options for treating or preventing cognitive decline, you can call or text us at (785) 760-0695 or send us a message on our website here.

To read the rest of the Scientific American article, click here: