You’re worried about the future.
Everyone knows someone with Alzheimer’s disease, but now it’s having a more direct impact on your life. You’ve received the diagnosis – or a parent, sibling, or other relative has. There’s suddenly a lot to think about. But there are breakthroughs in medicine every day! Perhaps there’s a new drug or treatment that can help?
When looking up your new diagnosis, or the diagnosis of a loved one, you’re presented with a lot of information – especially on Google! It can be difficult to sift through conflicting information and news reports about potential new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. All you want to know is if there’s an accessible treatment your doctor doesn’t know about.
The buzz around the Bredesen Protocol is growing, but it’s not yet recommended by local GPs or neurologists. Most doctors have been trained to treat symptoms – sounds normal, right? But if you have knee pain, for example, is it better to be repeatedly prescribed painkillers – or for the underlying cause found and treated? Many treatments for Alzheimer’s disease focus on, at best, slowing the progression, or masking the symptoms. But functional medicine practitioners focus on treating the underlying causes of the disease, with less of an emphasis on medication.
The Bredesen Protocol works at tackling the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
What Is the Bredesen Protocol?
The Bredesen Protocol, or ReCode, is a health program designed by Dr Dale Bredesen to prevent and reverse the cognitive decline brought about by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In short, it’s a series of guidelines that a specially-trained practitioner can use to provide you with personalised advice and treatment to combat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
The protocol guides you through different phases – as it’s impossible to change your entire lifestyle overnight! Using individualised testing we guide you through making changes in your:
- Diet and nutrition
- Exercise regime
- Sleep quality
- Stress levels
- Gut health
- Toxin burden
An equally important part of the Bredesen Protocol involves monitoring hormone and inflammation levels – with a focus on combating the underlying causes. Insulin resistance is another key area that we monitor. As Dr Bredesen points out, there’s no one cause of Alzheimer’s disease – there are at least 36! It’s looking increasingly unlikely that just one drug or treatment can reverse dementia, but using the Bredesen Protocol to explore and fix your personal triggers is a solid way to seek change. And the program can form a good foundation for if you’re considering medication as part of your treatment – but that phase would come later.
The Bredesen Protocol is not a pill, medical device, or quick fix. We prefer to think of it as a lifestyle change that can yield amazing results – backed by science.
Does the Bredesen Protocol Work?
In 2014 Dr Bredesen published a study focusing on 10 patients he had led through his program, where 9 patients had successfully reversed their cognitive decline – and several were able to take up work again. Case studies are included in the text. In 2016 he followed up with a study on 100 patients who followed ReCode under supervision. The write-up includes a table summarising each patient’s progress and more case studies. All 100 patients had improved cognitive function, or halted their decline. The Bredesen protocol is clearly transformative.
The Bredesen Protocol is based on cutting-edge science. Here’s a selection of studies that back up the thinking behind the lifestyle changes:
- The ketogenic diet has a neuroprotective effect on ageing brain cells, improving cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s.
- Exercise improves cardiovascular and respiratory health, which in turn improves brain function and cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
- Disrupted sleep is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, poor sleep increases the amount of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain – a known cause of the disease.
- Chronic stress has a hand in the progression of dementia – US veterans with PTSD are up to twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
- Inflammation is a core mechanism of Alzheimer’s.
- The gut-brain axis has a powerful influence on cognitive function. Poor gut health and a gut microbiome imbalance can increase inflammation, and increase the risk of disease – having a hand in the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Exposure to certain metals, pesticides, and other toxins can be a factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Insulin resistance is a known risk for Alzheimer’s.
- Interventions in diet, exercise, cognitive exercises and vascular risk over two years by The Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) improved or maintained cognitive ability in subjects.
There aren’t a lot of studies on the Bredesen Protocol specifically, but more are on the way. Getting funding for these studies is not straightforward. As the program relies less on conventional pharmaceuticals, companies that develop and sell medication have no interest in funding the research.
The science is solid, and there are patients that have already benefited from the Bredesen Protocol. It’s more effective the earlier you start, so while you could stand by for more studies to be published, why wait?
Is the Bredesen Protocol Harmful?
The Bredesen Protocol is an individualised program focused on optimising your health – there are no experimental therapies or medications involved. Provided you embark on the protocol with the right support, and continue to have tests to monitor your progress, there really is little to lose. Emphasis on improving diet, exercise, and combating stress can benefit all of us – but for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, it can be life-changing. It could be argued that doing nothing is far more harmful.
Is the Bredesen Protocol difficult? The program may seem challenging at first – involving exercise up to seven days a week, coping with dietary changes, and learning how to manage stress. Trying to make several major lifestyle changes at once is difficult for all of us – combined with brain fog and forgetfulness it may seem impossible. But you’re not meant to go it alone!
At CogMission we run the necessary tests, introduce the lifestyle changes gradually, provide monthly consultations in our Edinburgh clinic, and we’re on hand to answer any queries that may arise. We work with you to provide an individualised treatment plan that suits each patient. Your Alzheimer’s diagnosis is not the end – with the Bredesen Protocol, it’s possible to seize a brighter future.
If you or a family member have an Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis and you’re interested in the Bredesen Protocol in the UK, we’d love to hear from you. At CogMission we provide a free 15-minute consultation by phone to discuss your options and eligibility, so fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch.