I spent last week in New York city at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium Annual Conference listening to some truly brilliant speakers and would like to share some highlights from the wonderful presentation by Rudolph Tanzi, PhD : What Can Alzheimer’s Disease Teach Us About the Brain, Mind, and Self?
Dr. Rudolph Tanzi is the Vice-Chair of Neurology and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and serves as the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Tanzi co-discovered three of the first Alzheimer’s disease genes and has identified several others in the Alzheimer’s Genome Project, which he directs. He also discovered the Wilson’s disease gene and participated in the discovery of several other neurological disease genes.
The focus of his research is in identifying and characterizing the genetic and environmental factors involved in neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease and autism.
Dr. Tanzi shared this fundamental information:
- the Alzheimer’s disease pathology begins in all of us after the age of 40
- two thirds of those with Alzheimer’s disease are female
- and women are especially susceptible after menopause
- head injuries increase the risk
- these genes predispose us to the disease: APP, PSEN1, PSEN2 and APOE
Most of the above apply to me (I know I have the APOE gene) but I’m less concerned about Alzheimer’s disease that I have ever been and this is based on what was shared later in his presentation.
Dr. Tanzi’s whole presentation was fascinating and the section on fungi/candida, although concerning, was promising because we can do something about candida. This is the paper he shared: Different Brain Regions are Infected with Fungi in Alzheimer’s Disease with this question: Are clinical microbial pathogens triggering Alzheimer’s disease?
It was really interesting to hear that
- the amyloid is an antimicrobial agent in the brain and provides protection against the candida/fungi
- and that that the amyloid plaques also provide protection against Borellia, periodontal bugs, Herpes Simplex 1 and other infectious agents
What was most encouraging was this:
- your brain can handle tons of amyloid plaques and tangles and yet not develop Alzheimer’s disease.
- the big deciding factor seems to be inflammation
- “resilient brains” had plaques, no inflammation and no Alzheimer’s disease!
So these are some of my thoughts:
- Tanzi did share that many people with Alzheimer’s disease suffer from depression and agitation. Here is a paper I retrieved; it does state that depression is worse when benzodiazepines have been used and we know benzodiazepines have been found to contribute to dementia so we need to consider this too.
- We also know anxiety is a factor in Alzheimer’s disease and this study “showed that anxiolytic behavior…is predominantly due to cox-2 mediated neuroinflammation induced neurodegeneration in the brain.”
- Some of the same underlying causes of anxiety and depression seem to be underlying factors when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease – like candida and inflammation – and there is something we can do about this. We can get rid of the candida and can use natural methods to reduce inflammation starting with eating an anti-inflammatory diet with wild oily fish, no gluten, no sugar and reduced carbs.
Dr. Tanzi also shared these for preventing Alzheimer’s disease:
- Social engagement (this is why addressing pyroluria/social anxiety is important – interestingly zinc, vitamin B6 and evening primrose oil are anti-inflammatory)
- Learning new things
- Reducing emotional stress and deep sleep (this is where my work with the amino acids comes in – interestingly I found this study that discusses how enhancing GABA signaling can prevent cognitive decline in mice with the apoE4 gene)
- Exercise (also so beneficial in anxiety and depression)
- And nutrients like ashwaganda and cat’s claw (to address stress and kill infections/candida)
Clearly I have more reading and researching to do! As you can tell I love putting all the puzzle pieces together.
I’ve also got more to share from Dr. Tanzi’s talk and will do so next week. Stay tuned for more information on his “three- dimensional human stem cell-derived neural culture system that recapitulates Alzheimer’s disease plaque and tangle pathology.”
Feel free to ask questions and share your thoughts in the comments section.