Can dementia patients actually get better?

head_outline_puzzle_1600_wht_10307There has been some excitement about reports that people with early-stage Alzheimer’s have recovered from their memory after being put on a controversial recovery plan.

Scientists say the results are unprecedented. There were only 10 patients, aged late 40s to mid-70s, in the trial and most of the reports are anecdotal but they include a 69 year-old entrepreneur who was able to go back to work and expand his business and a woman who recovered her fluency in two foreign languages.

There is currently no one drug which can reverse the symptoms which include confusion, loss of speech and memory loss (but see post about symptoms other than memory loss).

The California researchers claim that a customised programme of 36 different treatments can restore some patients with Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairment to normality and improve their lives significantly.

The plan is called Metabolic Enhancement for Neural Degeneration or MEND. Basically it requires patients to make major lifestyle changes – exercise and sleep patterns – as well as taking drugs and vitamin supplements.

Brain scans of all 10 patients showed significant increases in grey matter. The improvements lasted as long as the patients stuck to the plan lasting up to four years.

The MEND programme

  • Fast at least 3 hrs before bedtime
  • Low GI & low-calorie cereal
  • At least 30 mins exercise, 4 to 6 days a week
  • Hormone supplements
  • Melatonin to guarantee 8 hours sleep
  • More than a dozen dietary supplements including reveratrol, curcumin & vitamins D3 & K2

British experts are being more cautious one saying the experiment had been carried out sloppily and risked raising unfair expectations among patients.

The head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said it was likely that the best way to deal with it was to use multiple strategies but that this study was too small.

The researchers at the University of California now want to expand the trial to larger groups. This will be important to establish the reliability of the plan using a blind controlled method with good diagnostics and follow-up.

See previous post on dementia

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One thought on “Can dementia patients actually get better?

  1. mikethepsych says:

    Reblogged this on Mike the Psych's Blog.

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