About The Show       Blog     
 

The Alzheimer’s Conundrum

Here is what we know about Alzheimer’s Disease. It is age related. Its incidence is increasing. It is characterized by deposits of a protein called amyloid between nerve cells, unusual protein tangles within nerve cells, and fewer connections between nerve cells. The rate of the disease varies around the world. Drugs have a minimal effect on the progress of the disease, but the drugs that have some efficacy are thought to function either by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, or blocking the effects of the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate. Alzheimer’s Disease is not curable and its cause is unknown.

Given the uncertainties surrounding the disease, it is not surprising that attempts to unravel its mysteries make for an active area of research. There are various theories about its cause which sets the stage for exploitation by marketers who claim efficacy for their products with insufficient evidence.

A typical example would be “Souvenaid,” a dietary supplement developed by Dr. Richard Wurtman of MIT. Wurtman is a very reputable researcher and the formulation of Souvenaid is based on legitimate science, but unfortunately the evidence for its effectiveness is virtually negligible.

In Alzheimer’s there is a loss of synapses, the connections between nerve cells that form when protrusions develop in cell membranes and reach out towards neighbouring nerve cells. The theory is that providing nutrients needed for healthy cell membranes encourages the formation of new synapses to compensate for the experienced loss.

Souvenaid provides a range of nutrients that include including omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), phospholipids, choline, uridine monophosphate, vitamins E, C, B12, B6, folic acid and selenium based on the theory that these are needed for the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, a major constituent of synaptic membranes. The more phosphatidylcholine in cell membranes, the greater the likelihood of synapse formation, at least so goes the theory. But a theory needs evidence to back it up if it is to evolve into practical recommendations. And that evidence is not forthcoming. It isn’t for lack of effort.

A number of studies have been carried out on Alzheimer’s patients with Souvenaid using standardized assessment scales. The results are disappointing. There is no evidence of decreasing the rate of cognitive decline or delaying the progression of the disease in any way, but one of the studies offered a slight glimmer of hope. In patients experiencing early Alzheimer’s Disease, who are not yet taking medication, there was an improvement in verbal recall. That isn’t much to hang a hat on, but at least the supplement was tolerated without side effects.

A number of studies have been carried out on Alzheimer’s patients with Souvenaid using standardized assessment scales. The results are disappointing. There is no evidence of decreasing the rate of cognitive decline or delaying the progression of the disease in any way, but one of the studies offered a slight glimmer of hope. In patients experiencing early Alzheimer’s Disease, who are not yet taking medication, there was an improvement in verbal recall. That isn’t much to hang a hat on, but at least the supplement was tolerated without side effects.

Leave a comment:

· Subscribe to comments
Be the first to comment here. You DO NOT need to be a member to comment.

Share this article: