Alzheimer’s May Be Prevented By Three Nutrients That Cut Brain Shrinkage By 53%

frank shallenberger md

Back in October, I told you that a vitamin B12 deficiency is one common cause of Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Shortly after I published that article, a major story on preventing Alzheimer’s disease made international news. According to this report, you can cut your risk of the dreaded disease by 50% just by taking B
vitamins.

That’s right! You don’t need a drug to stop this disease. In fact, this story should prove for all time why taking drugs for disease maintenance won’t ever work. Scientists at the University of Oxford conducted a trial on 168 people. They gave them high doses of three vitamin B supplements every day. The results startled the scientists. The treatment reduced brain shrinkage associated with dementia by up to 53%.

The authors suggested the findings were so strong that it should open up a debate as to whether doctors should prescribe the vitamins to everyone with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Research shows that half of those with MCI will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. In the UK, MCI afflicts 16% of people over 70. That’s 1.5 million people in the UK. In the U.S., the number six cause of death is Alzheimer’s!

Could B vitamins be the simplest, yet most effective means to reverse the disease? The answer, according to the authors, is yes!

Professor David Smith is a pharmacologist who co-authored the study. He said the results are “immensely promising.” He went on to say: “It is a very simple solution. You give someone some vitamins and you protect the brain.”

This is the first trial that has shown a glimmer of hope and success. It is the first one of its kind that has worked so clearly. I think it will change the whole direction of Alzheimer’s research.

The human brain naturally shrinks in volume as we get older. By age 60, it’s shrinking by as much as half a percent a year. In those with MCI, it accelerates to one percent a year. With Alzheimer’s, the shrinkage skyrockets to 2.5% a year. With the shrinkage comes severe memory problems, slower thoughts, and confusion.

The research, published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE, is controversial. Why? Because it defies current scientific dogma about the way to tackle Alzheimer’s.

It suggests simply taking vitamins can achieve results that have so far evaded pharmaceutical companies. And that’s despite the millions of dollars Pharma has spent on experimental dementia drugs.

Instead of following the company line, the Oxford scientists set out in a new direction. They targeted the abnormal physical shrinkage of the brain by prevention! Here’s how they made their discovery.

I’ve told you in the past about homocysteine — an amino acid found in the blood. Higher levels cause brain shrinkage in the elderly. Reasoning that less homocysteine might help, and knowing that three B vitamins lower the amino acid, they divided the 168 volunteers (over age 70) into two groups and treated and followed them for 2.5 years. Half of them took a “dummy tablet” and half took a tablet with large doses of folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6.

At the end of the trial, the researchers found the effects of the vitamin treatment were dramatic. In fact, the most pronounced benefit appeared in subjects who started out with the highest rates of brain shrinkage.

On average, taking B vitamins slowed the rate of brain atrophy by 30%. In many cases shrinkage reduced as much as 53%.

Professor Smith said: “This is a very striking, dramatic result. It’s much more than we could have predicted.”

The study was not designed to measure cognitive function directly. But, the researchers found that individuals with the lowest rates of shrinkage had the highest mental test scores. Dr. Smith said it’s still early to say exactly how vitamin B worked. But we know that the vitamins lower homocysteine, and they also support the membranes around your neurons!

Please, if you have noticed problems with cognitive function, or, if your doctor has told you that you have some brain shrinkage, please take plenty of B vitamins. When it comes to Alzheimer’s, this is one case where the benefits far exceed any risk (which is extremely low).

The doses the researchers used in this study were large. For B12, they were 300 times the RDA. The folate dosage was four times the RDA. And they took 15 times the RDA of vitamin B6. That computes to 900 mcg of B12, about 30 mg of B6, and 6 mg of folic acid. You can easily attain these doses by buying high potency individual vitamins at your health food store.

Ref: Alleyne, Richard. “Vitamin B is revolutionary new weapon against Alzheimer’s disease,” London Telegraph, September 9, 2010.

By Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD

For more information about the Dr. Frank Shallenberger MD and the Second Opinion Newsletter Click Here!

Blood Clots Causing Sudden Death Is Avoidable

frank shallenberger md

I will never forget something that happened one afternoon about five years ago. A woman came to see me, and with tears in her eyes in a trembling voice said, “My son just died, and I need some help.” It was very sad. Her 26-year-old son was in the hospital for appendicitis. The doctors successfully removed the infected appendix and presumably all was well. The next day he suddenly died from a blood clot.

The clot had silently formed in his legs in the immediate hours after the surgery. Then a piece of it broke off and traveled to his lungs and killed him. All without any warning. This perfectly healthy young man died from a preventable problem. And here’s the scary thing. It could happen to anyone. Why wasn’t it prevented? And what can you do to protect yourself if you need surgery? I’ll answer those questions in this issue.

Each year somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000 people die from the same kind of blood clots that killed this young man. The medical term for clots that travel to the lungs is pulmonary embolism. It happens commonly. In just the last three months, I have had two older patients who had emergency surgery and ended up with a pulmonary embolism.

Fortunately, the doctors caught it early enough and they are fine. But that’s not always the case. About 30% of the time people die from a pulmonary embolism before anyone can diagnose and treat the problem. If you are in a hospital, no matter what you are in there for, you have a one in a hundred chance of dying from a pulmonary embolism.

There are three factors that cause these killer clots. First, most people are in a hospital for conditions that cause inflammation. Surgery is a significant cause of inflammation. So is any infection. Inflammation causes clots to form.

The second reason is being bedridden. Lack of walking leads to a stagnation of the blood in the legs. This increases the chance of clotting. That explains why the most likely surgeries to cause clots are those involving the pelvis, hips, and legs. And it is also why surgeons are so insistent in getting people to walk soon after surgery.

And third, there is an inherited tendency for certain people to form clots. This condition is referred to as hypercoagulability. It means an excessive tendency to form a clot. This is the major reason that our young man and most people die from blood clots. They have a genetically inherited tendency toward hypercoagulability.

When you cut or injure yourself, the body stops the bleeding by forming a blood clot. This process is called coagulation. It’s a very complex and delicately balanced process. If there is a lot of bleeding, there needs to be a lot of coagulation. On the other hand, if there is no bleeding there should be no coagulation.

Hypercoagulability is when the coagulation process tends to form clots when there is no bleeding. And it explains why certain people will form dangerous blood clots after surgery and others won’t. Wouldn’t it be great to know if you had a tendency toward hypercoagulability before you had surgery instead of finding out the hard way later on? Fortunately, there is a way to do just that.

The most common genetic tendency to hypercoagulability is an abnormal gene called factor 5 Leiden. Close to 30% of the time someone gets a blood clot it is because they have factor 5 Leiden. About 5% of Caucasians have factor 5 Leiden. It is much less common in Hispanics and African-Americans, and is extremely rare in Asians.

The second most common cause of hypercoagulability is the female hormone estradiol. There are two ways that estradiol can cause hypercoagulability. One is when a woman takes too much estradiol as part of a hormonal replacement program. Even bio-identical estradiol can be a problem if the dose is too high.

The other is when the woman does not have enough progesterone. Progesterone offsets the tendency to hypercoagulability that estradiol causes. Every woman taking estradiol as part of her bio-identical hormone replacement must have the right amount of progesterone to balance it out. The ratio between the two is very important, and you should have it checked. But men also need to be concerned about estradiol.

Men make estradiol. But this is not a problem for men who have an adequate amount of testosterone. Testosterone offsets the clotting effect of estradiol in men just like progesterone does in women. But as they get older, men often make less testosterone and more estradiol. This is especially true if they drink too much or are overweight. And this switch in hormone balance can cause hypercoagulability. This is one reason why it is so important to check estradiol levels in men who are getting testosterone replacement. And there is a twist to this story.

Having a factor 5 Leiden makes the blood even more sensitive to the hypercoagulable effects of estradiol. That’s why it makes good sense to run a factor 5 Leiden test on any man or woman receiving bio-identical hormone replacement. If the test is positive in a woman, it is especially important to keep the estradiol dose as low as possible. It is also equally important to make sure that the testosterone-to-estradiol ratio in the blood of men with a positive factor 5 Leiden is at least 20. Anything less might result in hypercoagulability.

But these aren’t the only risk factors that cause hypercoagulability. Others are less common, but still important. They are:

• Prothrombin gene mutation (G20210A). Next to factor 5 Leiden this is the most common genetic reason for hypercoagulability.

• Deficiencies of antithrombin, protein C, and protein S. These are proteins that prevent clotting.

• Elevated levels of homocysteine.

• Elevated levels of fibrinogen.

• Elevation in levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1).

So here’s what I wish would happen for everyone anticipating surgery, especially those who are Caucasian, have a family history of blood clots, or are on hormone replacement therapy. Have your doctor run the following tests: fibrinogen level, factor V Leiden, prothrombin gene mutation (G20210A), PAI-1 activity, antithrombin activity, protein C activity, protein S activity, and fasting plasma homocysteine.

If these tests are all negative, there is not much chance that you will have a blood clotting problem. If one of them is abnormal, then your doctor can take the necessary measures to keep your blood thin after surgery. If these tests were taken routinely before surgery, we could save between 50-200,000 lives a year.

There is one other factor to consider. If none of the coagulation tests are positive, but you are either going to have surgery or are confined to bed for any reason. Just to be safe, I recommend the following.

First, take curcumin extract. I like Life Extension Super Bio-Curcumin. Take one tablet two times per day. Curcumin is very effective at decreasing the inflammation that can cause clots.

Next, take 100 mg of nattokinase twice a day. I have written about nattokinase before. It is an enzyme that comes from a fermented food called natto, which has been popular in Japan for over 1,000 years. Nattokinase is able to dissolve the fibrin that forms clots.

We already have something that naturally occurs in our blood that dissolves blood clots. It’s called plasmin. Studies show that nattokinase has four times more clot-busting power than our own plasmin. The product I recommend is Advanced Natto Formula from Advanced Bionutritionals.

You can take both curcumin and nattokinase before surgery because they won’t increase the risk of bleeding. The next two supplements should be started as soon as possible after surgery.

Take my Super Immune QuickStart. It has a full dose of gingko biloba. I put gingko in there because it helps to protect the blood from an excessive tendency to clot. You can find gingko at any health food store and online.

Finally, take two fish oil capsules a day. Fish oil contains the fats EPA and DHA. The membranes of platelets take these up and they prevent the platelets from sticking together and forming clots. I prefer Daily Omega from Advanced Bionutritionals.

So the idea is that curcumin, QuickStart, and fish oil act to prevent clots. And if a small clot somehow happens anyway, nattokinase will dissolve it before it can cause a problem. You can order QuickStart, Advanced Natto Formula, and Daily Omega by calling 800-791-3395.

REF: Rahimtoola, A. and J.D. Bergin. “Acute pulmonary embolism: an update on diagnosis and management.” Current Problems in Cardiology, 30 (2): 61–114.

By Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD

For more information about the Dr. Frank Shallenberger MD and the Second Opinion Newsletter Click Here!