“In Canada, more than 419,000 adults aged 65 and older were living with some form of dementia between 2015 and 2016, and an estimated 78,600 new cases are diagnosed each year. The healthcare and out-of-pocket caregiver costs associated with the condition are projected to reach $16.6-billion by 2031.” Globe and Mail, June 17, 2019
If you go by the statistics, dementia is becoming a huge issue in Canada. What is it? “Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms affecting brain function that are caused by neurodegenerative and vascular diseases or injuries. It is characterized by a decline in cognitive abilities. These abilities include: memory; awareness of person, place, and time; language, basic math skills; judgement; and planning. Dementia can also affect mood and behaviour. As a chronic and progressive condition, dementia can significantly interfere with the ability to maintain activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, toileting, and dressing.
Alzheimer’s disease, vascular disease, and other types of disease all contribute to dementia. Other common types of dementia include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementias. In rare instances, dementia may be linked to infectious diseases, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.” 
In the next five years, the Canadian government plans to fund a strategy to deal with dementia to the tune of $50 million. According to The Globe and Mail: “The dementia strategy highlights the need to prevent the condition through measures such as promoting healthy living. It also includes the need to eliminate stigma against those with dementia, promote early diagnosis, and develop a skilled workforce from researchers to care providers.”
Experts in the field, however, claim that this amount of funding is woefully inadequate to deal with the coming crisis. So, given that the funding to fight dementia is inadequate and we cannot realistically expect the government to seriously tackle the problem, what can what can we do on our own to prevent and even successfully treat dementia?
Conventional medicine has very little to offer for prevention and treatment of the aging brain. In fact, most of the drugs prescribed by conventional doctors for other conditions actually cause premature brain aging, memory loss, and confusion.
You might even say that prescription drugs are some of the major contributors to accelerated brain aging. Chief amongst these are the statin drugs for high cholesterol, fluroquinolone antibiotics, prescription tranquilizers, antidepressants, the newer atypical anti-psychotics, and electroconvulsive shock therapy. Concussions will do the same.
Statin drugs, for example, deplete the brain of the important antioxidant CoQ10, as well as numerous steroid hormones, including vitamin D. The longer you use statin drugs, the greater will be your cognitive decline. A few years ago, I reported on the dangers of these overprescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs in this magazine (find the article archived online at: http://tinyurl.com/StatinDrugdogma).
A recent study showed that a large number of other common prescription drugs increase the risk of dementia. These include anticholinergic drugs which work by blocking the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain and the nerves. Other drugs that increase dementia risk include bladder and epilepsy drugs.
Anticholinergic activity drugs include:
Commonly prescribed drugs for Alzheimer’s or dementia rarely benefit an aging brain and serve primarily to keep agitated patients with dementia quiet or muzzled. In fact, evidence suggests that the commonly prescribed antipsychotics hasten the incidence of death (see “How We Have Been Lied to by Big Pharma” in Resource List at end).
Another major issue is the growing problem of mercury toxicity from dental fillings, industrial pollution, and fish of all types. Mercury and other toxic heavy metals play an increasingly large role in damaging the brain.
We are all exposed to toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and aluminum. To rid the body of these toxins, consider using the far infrared sauna (which causes the release of toxins through sweating), cilantro (a culinary herb that pulls heavy metals out of the tissues), chlorella (a superfood that detoxifies the cells), bentonite clay (a substance that pulls heavy metals out of the body through the bowels and should be taken within hours of cilantro), and other detoxifying strategies regularly.
The good news is that scientific evidence supports the use of specific nutrient supplements to enhance brain function and prevent brain tragedies in later life.
Following a healthy organic diet and lifestyle while controlling stress can go a long way towards preventing brain damage. This includes avoiding gluten-containing grains and other personal food allergens, as well as sugar (including high fructose corn syrup) and refined carbohydrates, while getting plenty of essential fatty acids in daily meals.
According to neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, the main culprits behind Alzheimer’s disease are excessive consumption of sugar and genetically engineered grain (gluten). Not only are grains and refined carbohydrates associated with the obesity epidemic but they may also be one of the chief causes of brain aging. Perlmutter even labels Alzheimer’s disease as Type 3 diabetes.
Let us not forget that what happens in the gut will directly affect the brain. This gut-brain connection is especially important in reducing brain inflammation, something that can cause the brain damage seen with dementia. One way that healthcare professionals can see this inflammation, as well as signs of dysbiosis in the gut, is with livecell or darkfield microscopy.
Aside from a healthy diet and lifestyle, there are key supplements that virtually anyone can use to help enhance brain function and stave off the neurological problems of aging.
1) MAGNESIUM L-THREONATE – Most readers know of the importance of the mineral magnesium to numerous aspects of health, especially the cardiovascular system. Magnesium is also vital to the nervous system, pain control, muscle health, bone density, and blood sugar balance. As well, magnesium enhances the activity of over 300 enzymes.
Magnesium comes in different forms and its function is determined, in part, which form it enters the body. For example, magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide or peroxide are the forms best used to produce a laxative effect. Only a tiny fraction of these forms is absorbed into the system and supplementation is usually effective as a way of treating constipation. Magnesium glycinate or bisglycinate, on the other hand, is much better absorbed for most magnesium benefits and produces a minimal laxative effect.
Now comes magnesium L-threonate, a new form of magnesium complexed with the essential amino acid L-threonine that has just become available at health food stores in Canada. Magnesium L-threonate offers some major advantages to the brain and nervous system that are not possible with other magnesium compounds.
Magnesium L-threonate has been found to help repair damaged synapses. These are the spaces between two nerves that allow for information transmission from one nerve to the other through chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. If synapses are damaged, information cannot be transmitted and hence, memory and other nerve functions are interrupted. This is one of the mechanisms by which memory loss occurs in Alzheimer’s disease and other types of brain disease.
Learning, cognitive performance, sleep quality, and memory can be improved by this rebuilding of damaged synapses. In animal studies, no other form of magnesium was able to duplicate these results, mainly because concentrations could never be created high enough for any benefits to be achieved.
Admittedly, animal studies are not conclusive proof that magnesium L-threonate is the answer to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. So human studies are currently being conducted that could provide the necessary evidence for the broad scale use of this new supplement.
Although this has not yet been established either, the dose of magnesium needed to be transported by L-threonine is approximately 600 mg daily. The amount of L-threonine needed to do that would be about 1500 mg. daily. Higher or lower doses could be used depending on stomach and bowel tolerance.
2) OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS (4,000 mg or more daily of combined EPA and DHA daily ) – Omega-3 fats prevent brain cell damage and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, primarily by controlling chronic inflammation. The most potent omega-3 source is fish oils. Canadian brands have had the mercury and other toxins removed from the oil.
3) CURCUMIN (1,000 to 2,000 mg daily) – This powerful antioxidant extract from the spice turmeric is one of the most powerful natural brain-protecting substances ever documented. Turmeric contains only 3% curcumin. Known as a potent anti-inflammatory for the whole body, curcumin boosts overall cognitive function and has recently been shown to be an effective antidepressant.
4) VITAMIN D (5,000 to 10,000 IU) – Receptors do exist in the brain for this hormone-like vitamin. Vitamin D is anti-inflammatory, and the evidence is clear that vitamin D levels are tied intimately to optimal brain function. It helps nourish brain glial cells that repair damaged neurons. Make sure you take vitamin K2 (100 mcg) along with each 1000 IU of vitamin D to prevent calcium deposits in soft tissues and arteries.
5) VITAMIN B-12 (5,000 mcg methylcobalamin daily dissolved under the tongue) – Vitamin B12 injections and oral supplements dissolved under the tongue will boost mood, energy, and sharpen thinking in general. There is now good evidence that regular vitamin B12 consumption can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
6) COCONUT OIL (20 grams daily of MCT (medium chain triglycerides)) – is a type of healthy fat that nourishes the brain and has reportedly reversed Alzheimer’s symptoms in some studies (20 grams = 4 tsp).
7) N-ACETYL-L-CARNITINE (1,000 mg twice daily) – is an amino acid that has been shown to improve memory in addition to heart health.
8) COENZYME Q10 (600 to 1,200 mg daily) – Best known for its benefits for cardiovascular disease and cancer treatment, CoQ10 may slow down and help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. Recent studies do show enhancement of brain function after using high doses of CoQ10.
9) PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE (PS) (300 mg or more daily) – This is a natural substance used by the brain to basically improve communication between neurons. It has been used effectively for any type of age-related mental functioning decline as well as for Alzheimer’s, ADHD, depression, and even for the improvement of athletic performance.
10) GINKGO BILOBA (120 mg daily of the standardized extract) – This extract from the ancient ginkgo tree has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain and can be used to both prevent and reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s.
11) ZINC PICOLINATE OR CITRATE (50 to 100 mg daily) – Remember the slogan “no zinc, no think” because this mineral is crucial to normal brain function and memory. High levels of copper in the system can be brain damaging and trigger dementia. Zinc antagonizes copper and can rid the body of excessive copper from environmental contamination. A hair mineral analysis can provide information on both minerals.
12) 5-MTHF (1,000 to 3,000 mcg daily) – is the active form of folic acid. Deficiency is caused by a genetic defect that needs to be corrected in some individuals to reduce high levels of homocysteine that can damage the nervous system.
13) ASTAXANTHIN (5 to 20 mg daily) – is a very powerful carotenoid antioxidant, which can prevent damage to the brain and nervous system. It’s the pigment that gives salmon and flamingos their pink colour.
14) FRANKINCENSE OIL (2 drops twice daily) – supports brain function.
15) ROSEMARY OIL (2 drops twice daily) – also supports brain function.
16) CANNABIS THC COMPONENT – has been found to protect the brain and prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s. The exact dose and duration of therapy has not yet been established.
17) MATCHA GREEN TEA (sipped throughout the day) – can lower your Alzheimer’s risk by 86%. Another tea that could be helpful is chamomile. No doubt the benefits are from the tea content of antioxidants.
18) LITHIUM OROTATE (10 to 20 mg daily) – High doses of the mineral salt lithium (1200 to 1500 mg daily) are often used to treat bipolar disease (manic-depressive illness), but few people realize that low-dose lithium can do wonders for brain function at virtually any age. Low-dose lithium enhances nerve cell DNA replication. In actual studies, shrunken brains as seen on CAT scans and MRIs in patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s can be grown back over time to their original size. Lithium prevents damage to the brain from toxic molecules (heavy metals, drugs, pollutants, etc.) and normal brain erosion occurring over time. In other words, it prevents typical brain aging. Lithium prohibits beta-amyloid secretion, a substance found to be associated with Alzheimer’s. Lithium also protects the brain from damage by aluminum, another purported cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
19) GLUTATHIONE (1,000 mg or more daily) – also shows some promise in improving cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients. Glutathione is a molecule made up of the three amino acids: L-cysteine, L-glycine, and L-glutamic acid (a.k.a. L-glutamate). The power of this tripeptide molecule resides in its sulfur (SH) content, which can bind onto toxins and remove them from the body. One can naturally increase glutathione levels in the body by supplementing with N-Acetyl-Cysteine. There are also new supplements on the market of well-absorbed forms of glutathione. Alternatively, intravenous administration is possibly the best way of getting high concentrations to the brain.
20) INTRAVENOUS EDTA CHELATION THERAPY – a series of 40 or more IV sessions is especially appropriate in the removal of toxic heavy metals from the system. Mercury, cadmium, and lead in particular are capable of damaging the brain and nervous system. Chelating and eliminating them from the system can go a long way in both treating and preventing nervous system damage.
21) INTRAVENOUS B VITAMIN COCKTAIL – given once or twice weekly, has been shown to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Most naturopaths and complementary medical doctors offer this as the “Myers’ cocktail” which also includes calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals.
Estrogen is the hormone of memory in women. There is evidence that boosting low estrogen levels in women can both improve memory as well as prevent dementia. In prescribing estrogen, it must be balanced with bioidentical progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone. In men, low testosterone is associated with a greater dementia risk. Low testosterone levels can at least be normalized to prevent this potential cause of suboptimal brain function.
For an individualized program see your natural health care provider.