Research: Foods/Spices Slow, Perhaps Reverse Alzheimer’s

26th June 2012

By Sayer Ji

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Did you know that so-called “incurable” neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed, if not also partially reversed?  Regeneration, after all, is the default state of the human body.

This may sound all the more surprising when you consider that over 1,000 clinical trials have been performed, and billions of dollars expended, in order find an effective solution, without any significant progress in reversing the underlying trajectory of the condition.  [i]

In fact, some of the very same patented chemicals approved by the FDA to “treat” the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, e.g.  donepizl (trade name Aricept), are chemically related to insecticides, chemical weapons and venom, and are notorious for greatly increasing the  risk of seizures  in those to whom they are prescribed.

Back in 2006, a study published in the  Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease  (AD) found that a class of compounds found within  turmeric  known as  curcuminoids  enhance the amyloid-beta uptake of macrophages within Alzheimer’s disease patients.   Amyloid-beta (Abeta) plaque is found in unnaturally elevated levels in  neurodegenerative disorders  such as AD, and is believed to contribute to the underlying disease process.  [ii]

In the study, researchers treated the macrophages of six AD patients and 3 controls by curcuminoids and measured the Abeta uptake.

The results were as follows:

After treatment of macrophages with curcuminoids, Abeta uptake by macrophages of three of the six AD patients was significantly (P<0.001 to 0.081) increased.

They concluded:

Immunomodulation of the innate immune system by curcuminoids might be a safe approach to immune clearance of amyloidosis in AD brain.

Another study published in the same journal in 2009 found that  vitamin D3  increased the efficacy of curcuminoids in enhancing the clearance of the  amyloid-beta plaque.

While these two studies are amazing, they are not novel. In fact, we have identified  30 studies  in total which show the potential value of curcuminoids in Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment.  These study abstracts can be viewed in full on our  Alzheimer’s disease  page.

Curcumin is, in fact, only one of several natural compounds and/or therapeutic modalities with promising anti-Alzheimer’s activity. Others include:

Coconut Oil  (MCTs):  Alzheimer’s disease is associated with a pathological decrease in brain glucose, the brain’s principal source of energy.  In 2006, a study was published in the journal of  Neurobiology of Aging,  involving subjects with mild cognitive impairment who were given an oral dose of medium chain triglycerides. When tested 90 minutes later, subjects showed increased cognitive performance, believed to be associated with increased ketone bodies and their brain-metabolism enhancing effects.  [iii]

Alpha-Lipoic Acid: A 2007 study published in the  Journal   of Neural Transmission  found alpha-lipoic acid “dramatically lowers” disease progression in Alzheimer’s disease patients who received 600 mg a day for 12 months.  [iv]

B-Complex: A 2011 study published in the International  Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry  found B-complex to slow cognitive and clinical decline in people with mild cognitive impairment.  The researchers noted that homocysteine is a risk factor for AD and that B vitamins may slow brain atrophy by suppressing homocysteine accumulation.  [v]

Alpha-GPC: A 2003 study published in the journal  Clinical  Therapeutics  found that the cholinergic precursors choline and lecithin (phosphatidylcholine) in the form of choline alfoscerate (Alpha-GPC), and naturally found in neuronal membranes, was tolerable and effective in the treatment of the cognitive symptoms of dementia disorders of the Alzheimer type.  [vi]

Gingko Biloba:  In 2006 the  European Journal of Neurology  published the results of a 24-week randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind  study  showing an extract of this plant was as effective as Aricept (donepezil) for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.  [vii]  Another study published in 2009 found that it was as effective as Aricept in improving symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease,  but with less side effects.  [viii]

Saffron:  A 2009 study published in the journal  Psychopharmacology  found that 22-weeks of  saffron supplementation  compared favorably to Aricept in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.  [ix]

The Mediterranean diet  – The Mediterranean diet is one of the most extensively research therapeutic diets known in the scientific literature.   There are over 50 diseases that have been studied to be mitigated or prevented through employing the  Mediterranean Diet. A 2011 study published in the journal  Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics  found that adherence to a  Mediterranean-type diet  could be associated with slower cognitive decline, reduced risk of progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), reduced risk of AD and a decreased all-cause mortality in AD patients.  [x]   Another 2007 study found lower mortality in Alzheimer’s disease patients consuming a Mediterranean diet.  [xi]

Vitamin E  – A 2009 study published in 2009 in the journal  Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disordersfound that  vitamin E  use is associated with improved survival in an Alzheimer’s disease cohort.  [xii]

[i],  Alzheimer Studies: 1,088

[ii]    Curcuminoids enhance amyloid-beta uptake by macrophages  of Alzheimer’s disease patients. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Sep;10(1):1-7.

[iii]  Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Mar 22;54(6):2123-8.

[iv]  Alpha-lipoic acid as a new treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease–a 48 months follow-up analysis. J Neural Transm Suppl. 2007;(72):189-93.

[v]  Cognitive and clinical outcomes of homocysteine-lowering B-vitamin treatment in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial.  Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Jul 21. Epub 2011 Jul 21.

[vi]  Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia after treatment with the  acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Ther. 2003 Jan;25(1):178-93.

[vii]  Ginkgo biloba and donepezil: a comparison in the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia in a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study. Eur J Neurol. 2006 Sep;13(9):981-5.

[viii]  Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761(R), donepezil or both combined in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with neuropsychiatric features: a randomised, double-blind, exploratory trial. Aging Ment Health. 2009 Mar;13(2):183-90.

[ix]  A 22-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind controlled trial of Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.  Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Jan;207(4):637-43. Epub 2009 Oct 20.

[x]  Diet and Alzheimer’s disease risk factors or prevention: the current evidence. Expert Rev Neurother. 2011 May ;11(5):677-708.

[xi]  Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer disease mortality. Neurology. 2007 Sep 11 ;69(11):1084-93. PMID:  17846408

[xii]  Vitamin E use is associated with improved survival in an Alzheimer’s disease cohort. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord.  2009;28(6):536-40. Epub 2009 Dec 10.

About the Author

Sayer Ji is the founder and chair of His writings and research has been published in the Wellbeing Journal, the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, and have been featured on Reuters,,,,, His critically acclaimed essay series The Dark Side of Wheat opens up a new perspective on the universal, human-species specific  toxicity of wheat, and is now available for PDF download.


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