A recent trial has used what is effectively the Functional Medicine approach to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
The approach is personalised to the patient, based on extensive testing to determine what is affecting the plasticity signalling network of the brain. As one example, in the case of the patient with the demanding job who was forgetting her way home, her therapeutic program consisted of some, but not all of the components involved in the therapeutic program below, and included:
(1) eliminating all simple carbohydrates, leading to a weight loss of 20 pounds;
(2) eliminating gluten and processed food from her diet, with increased vegetables, fruits, and non-farmed fish;
(3) to reduce stress, she began yoga;
(4) as a second measure to reduce the stress of her job, she began to meditate for 20 minutes twice per day;
(5) she took melatonin each night;
(6) she increased her sleep from 4-5 hours per night to 7-8 hours per night;
(7) she took methylcobalamin each day;
(8) she took vitamin D3 each day;
(9) fish oil each day;
(10) CoQ10 each day;
(11) she optimised her oral hygiene using an electric flosser and electric toothbrush;
(12) following discussion with her primary care provider, she reinstated hormone replacement therapy that had been discontinued;
(13) she fasted for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, and for a minimum of three hours between dinner and bedtime;
(14) she exercised for a minimum of 30 minutes, 4-6 days per week.
The results for 9 of the 10 patients reported in the paper suggest that memory loss may be reversed, and improvement sustained with this therapeutic program.
The downside to this program is its complexity. It is not easy to follow, with the burden falling on the patients and caregivers, and none of the patients were able to stick to the entire protocol. The significant diet and lifestyle changes, and multiple pills required each day, were the two most common complaints. The good news, though, are the side effects: It is noteworthy that the major side effect of this therapeutic system is improved health and an optimal body mass index, a stark contrast to the side effects of many drugs.