Dr. Jill Carnahan’s interview on the Microbiome Medicine Summit 2 covers cutting edge new information about Alzheimer’s disease, based on the work and research of Dr. Dale Bredesen. They start with the gut-brain connection and Dr. Carnahan shares this:
we used to think of early-onset cognitive decline and dementias and mood disorders as being in their own bucket. And so, we saw psychiatrists or neurological doctors or neurologists to treat those diseases. And now we’re finding as we knew for several years with functional medicine that, obviously, it’s all connected.
And the gut is especially important because this reservoir holds so many of our microbes and possibly pathogens and that speaks to the brain through the vagus nerve and through cytokines and through inflammatory molecules of all types.
And so, this conversation between our gut and our brain is very profound and has a huge impact on things like multiple sclerosis or dementia, Alzheimer’s, or even things like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
So what we’re finding is by addressing the immune system and the gut which are intricately connected, we can often get profound effects on areas in the body that are far from that, like the brain.
Dr. Kellman asks Dr. Carnahan to share a study that will be the slam dunk for really believing in this connection and she mentions a paper titled Microbes and Alzheimer’s Disease. It cites pathogens like herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), Chlamydia pneumoniae, and several types of spirochaete which can affect the brain and play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Carnahan then covers Dr. Dale Bredesen’s subtypes of early-onset dementia which allows you to treat the root cause and actually reverse symptoms. She goes into it in great detail so I’m going to give you the summary version here:
Type #1 is inflammatory
- This could be from inflammation or infections or other poor dietary habits. And that’s where the microbiome could play into that.
- You might see elevated CRP, IL-6, TNF-alpha. You might see a low albumin to globulin ratio. You might see high homocysteine, hypothyroid, elevated cortisol
Type #1.5 is glycotoxic
- The pure pre-diabetic, diabetic
- That’s kind of the pure elevated insulin, elevated fasting blood sugar, elevated cortisol, low testosterone, high triglycerides, low HDL (and has an element of inflammation)
Type #2 is atrophic: So that’s someone who loses their trophic factor of support like estrogen, testosterone, insulin, and vitamin D3.
And often, these type 1s and type 2s actually have ApoE-4 double mutations which are higher risk for Alzheimer’s.
Type #3 is toxic:
- Toxic mold exposure, biotoxins from Lyme disease, or heavy metals or other chemicals.
- Often these chemicals will act on the tight junctions of the gut and increase permeability. And then that permeability leads to massive endotoxemia.
- Younger onset of symptoms (like 40s and 50s) and reversible once you find and remove the root cause
Type #4 is vascular: inflammation of the blood vessels, high homocysteine
Type #5 is traumatic: wrestlers or boxers or football players that have had multiple head injuries or trauma.
By addressing the various root causes, Dr. Bredesen reports a reduction and in some instances reversal of dementia symptoms.
Of course, we know anxiety is common when it comes to Alzheimer’s and dementia. By addressing many of these above root causes we’re also able to reduce anxiety symptoms at the same time.
It was a fascinating interview and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I learned a great deal and find it very useful to group the symptoms into types.
There does seem to be one aspect that Dr. Carnahan didn’t address and I haven’t seen it covered in Dr. Bredesen’s papers: the impact of benzodiazepines on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There is conflicting research on this but I feel there is enough research that does show a correlation – enough for us to be concerned. Here is a recent paper looking at high-dose benzodiazepine use in Chinese patients , supporting an association.
This 2016 paper – Benzodiazepine Use and Risk of Dementia in the Elderly Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis states:
Our results suggest that benzodiazepine use is significantly associated with dementia risk. However, observational studies cannot clarify whether the observed epidemiologic association is a causal effect or the result of some unmeasured confounding variable. Therefore, more research is needed.
This may likely fall under type #3 (toxic). I plan to reach out to them as a follow-up.
UPDATE: May 9, 2017. I did hear back from Dr. Carnahan and she shared that she always discusses history and physical and lab testing, and history of benzodiazepine use or other neuroactive substances.
And new research shows that it’s more than the benzodiazepines: SSRIs, SRNIs and atypical antipsychotics increase the risk of dementia in veterans with PTSD and even in those who don’t have PTSD.
I hope you’ll join the host Dr. Raphael Kellman and all the great speakers on the Microbiome Medicine Summit 2, May 8-15, 2017 to learn more.
If you have questions or comments please feel free to share in the comments.