It is the prevalent medical view that little can be done to prevent the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer's disease (AD), and that nothing can be done to halt its progress. It is accepted that some lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise, may reduce one's risk of developing AD, and that certain medications may improve the symptoms for a time (alzheimers.org.uk), but that nothing exists that could be described as a 'cure'. However, in 2014 Dr Dale Bredesen, Professor of Neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles, published a paper in which he documented the treatment of 10 patients with cognitive decline, of varying degrees of severity; nine of these showed subjective or objective improvement, and, most important, all six of the patients whose cognitive decline had a major impact on job performance were able to return to work or continue working without difficulty (Bredesen et al., 2014). Dr Bredesen has since followed this up with an account of 100 patients successfully treated by different physicians trained in his protocol, ReCODE (Bredesen et al., 2018).
Since Alzheimer's disease develops over many years before symptoms appear, the earlier treatment is started the better the results are likely to be. Those who feel that things are 'not quite right', or who have been diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, may benefit from changes in diet and lifestyle, as well as herbs and supplements, as laid down in the ReCODE protocol. As with any other condition, my approach is patient-centred: the aim is to identify and remedy the factors that may be contributing to cognitive impairment in a particular individual.
In 2018 I completed the programme Reversing Cognitive Decline Advanced Clinical Training, hosted by the Institute of Functional Medicine and taught by Dr Bredesen and his colleagues. In line with this, I am a participating practitioner in the Brain Health Programme Online, in which patients who are concerned about, or wish to improve, their cognitive health receive six online recorded workshops, which they can listen to at their own convenience, as well as two private consultations with a qualified practitioner. The aim of this programme is to advise patients on measures they can take - which may include nutrition, lifestyle, and herbal extracts or supplements - to safeguard their cognitive health. For patients following the Bredesen Protocol, specific blood tests will be recommended.