There is hope to be had if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. The first step is to understand a little bit more about what is happening in the brain. This is not knowledge too difficult to understand. Once understood the options for prevention abound before us.
When you look at the origins of Alzheimer’s research shows it begins decades before symptoms appear outwardly. Functional medicine has given us a great key through their research. This field believes taking food as medicine can actually cure the body. What the research shows is that inflammation is oftentimes happening in the body decades before. It rears its head in anything from diabetes to heart disease to arthritis and even osteoporosis.
Overtime, in some cases and thankfully not in all cases, what happens to the inflammation in the body overflows into the brain. When that inflammation overflows into the brain it begins to interrupt the flow of what we call cerebral spinal fluid. It’s a fluid that bathes and nurtures the brain. When the interruption happens ground for the formation of the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles is established and THEY are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
What my research led me is to believe is that if we can find a way to interrupt this inflammation in the body and then interrupt this information in the brain then perhaps we could prevent the outcome of the disease in the first place and possible even reverse it as well.
One way our research has found to interrupt this pattern includes body centered modalities such as Craniosacral therapy. We tested this theory on nursing home residents with mid to late stage dementia by giving them a 5-10 minute treatment working with the Cerebro-spinal fluid for six weeks. We were excited to see there was a notable change in behavior. A couple remarkable examples included recognizing their caregivers and completing sentences. Yes, these residents began to improve! We looked into other research that might help us understand what was happening and found a new study into the glymphatic structure of the brain.
This new field is contributing significantly to our understanding of the brain. Glymph means ‘glue,’ and lymph means ‘lymphatic system.’ The researchers naming and discovering this part of the system of the brain won a Nobel Prize for their work several years ago, adding great credibility for other research to ensue. This system is very efficient in removing waste products and toxins from the brain. When the system is in good shape it provides the field through which the Cerebro-spinal fluid can move quickly and easily through all the micro channels. When it is inflamed the channels shrink up with resulting tangles and amalyoid plaques. Ultimately the neurons in the brain are destroyed.
They begin to conjecture that if there was a way to increase the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid back to their normal levels and wash away these bits and toxins in the brain then diseases such as dementia and Alzheimers could be prevented and reversed.
It is exciting to see our initial research complimenting the research of the glymphatic system and neuroanatomy. It puts brain health more solidly in our hands.
We want to begin our attention for our brains NOW, however. We found that by the time that Alzheimer’s is actually detected and diagnosed the unhealthy patterns have already existed for quite a while. Even at the earliest stages of forgetting keys and names and places we want to address techniques and lifestyle changes that can help reverse the patterns setting into motion.
Poor diet, concussions, trauma to the body, emotional trauma, and even a life void of exercise for years before set the stage for the inflammation. These factors could be contributing 10-20 years before a diagnosis is even given!
Educating ourselves by knowing even this, and then acting on it, can help us maintain a healthy life, and assist our helping those we love. Take a look at my Huffington Post article to learn four simple steps you can begin today to prevent or reverse Alzheimer’s Disease:4 Simple Steps to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
It was a dark and stormy night. It is indeed a dark and stormy night for millions of our aging population.
On this dark and stormy night we see the villain enter stage right. The villain in this play is Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Our elderly are being relentlessly attacked and invaded by this insipid villain. The elderly are losing their keys, losing their independence, losing the names and faces of the ones they love and eventually losing their precious lives. The final act of their lives is ending poorly with no sunset, only blankness, darkness, and death. This is a tragedy to rival that of Shakespeare.
Studies have shown that in Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients, inflammation in the brain may play a major part in supporting the villain. The stage director is frantic, adjusting here and moving there but alas there is no cure to rid us of the villain.
Many of us have “flown by the seat of our pants” in regards to health and eating habits much of our lives. We could eat and drink what and how much we wanted as often as we wanted. If anyone dared to tell us in our 20’s that “Hey it might not be a good idea to eat all that sugar, caffeine and animal fats”, we would have scoffed and taken the next bite. “Don’t trust anyone over 30”, right?! Well, news flash, you may very well be over 30 now and things they are a-changing. Anyone who is past a certain age can attest to that. Poor choices and habits lead to inflammation, obesity, heart problems and for some Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Enter the hero/heroine from stage left in the form of Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST). CST is a gentle hands-on therapy that is done with the individual fully clothed in either a seated or laying position. CST works with the cerebral spinal fluid, CSF, that bathes the brain, spinal cord within the vertebral column and the cranial nerves that innervate the whole body. Hands-on CST also works with the fascia system that encompasses the body, each organ and muscle. Imagine each organ and muscle with a nice smooth cashmere sweater around it and all the sweaters are connected. Imagine if the fascia (sweater) around the right shoulder is abnormally tightened due to repetitive use, injury or trauma, the tightness will radiate and affect the rest of the body. Or if two sweaters get stuck together and not move freely, the rest of the body will be affected. CST works to loosen the fascia thus increasing the circulation of healing lymph and blood; bringing the body closer to homeostasis. Homeostasis is the state of balance in the body when all parts are functioning optimally or close to optimally. Some say homeostasis is like an engine “firing on all eight”.
We must change some of our habits. We must change how we treat our bodies and just as importantly we must change the way we treat our aging population, those in elderhood. We gently care for, feed and protect those in childhood. Adulthood is about independence and personal choices. And while each of us will strive to carry the adulthood ways deep into elderhood, not everyone is successful. We as a society must support and guide those who are struggling in elderhood. Cranial sacral therapy is one such support. The gentle, caring and focused touch of CST can bring to the third act of your life or a loved ones life peace, wellness and balance.
The government, medical community and the nursing industry also need to change. Aging is not an illness, it doesn’t need a pill and yet our elderly are the most over-medicated group in the Nation if not the world. Cranial sacral therapy offers a holistic adjunct to the aging process. As the stage director of your life or the life of a loved one, consider adding CST to the stage and watch miracles happen.
Many thanks to Ms Laura Attaway for her contribution…
In part one, I discussed how the buildup of inflammatory conditions in the body can contribute to the diseases of aging many people experience.
But in point of fact, you don’t have to be ‘old’ to begin to experience them. Many people in their 40’s and 50’s are all too familiar with diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, auto immune disease, depression and a host of other ailments that I label the ‘diseases of aging.’
It might be useful to ask ‘what causes all of these in the first place?’
Let’s look at one major contributor: what we eat. In looking at this, we may be exposing a looming and growing healthcare crisis in the US.
It turns out that 79 million people in the US are pre diabetic, and another 20 plus million are ‘officially’ diabetic. That’s about a third of the population.
Why is this important and what does it have to do with preventing and reversing Alzheimer’s?
The types of food we are discussing-primarily sugars, breads and carbohydrates-can, if consumed in excess raise our blood sugar and contribute to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means just what it says-the body becomes more resistant to utilizing insulin which is key to converting energy into our bodies and-as a bonus, can create inflammation in the body as well.
It’s as if the body has too much of a good thing, becomes imbalanced and these foods begin to be toxic.
But the story gets worse. This insulin resistance, typically over years, can, in a certain percentage of people, overflow into the brain. Then the brain begins to mirror this insulin resistance, which in turn can create its own inflammation. And there is yet another by product of this condition-it turns out that 60% of the glucose produced by the body it used by the brain. Due to insulin resistance, the brain cannot convert this energy into a useable form, and mental degeneration is the result
It’s as if the brain is drowning in a sea of plenty.
So let’s look into one possible future: if a third of the population is at one starting point to Alzheimer’s: pre diabetes-and they continue on this path-they may begin to also develop cardiovascular disease and other symptoms which are key contributors to Alzheimer’s. In this view we may be severely underestimating the number of people predicted to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the next 10-20 years.
But here’s the good news-this process is usually decades in the making. Even simple changes in diet-a modest reduction in sugars, finding some alternatives to carbohydrates-can begin to change the outcome for ourselves and millions of Americans, and contribute to the prevention and even reversal of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
In part 3 I’ll discuss some of the other contributors to inflammation, the role of exercise, and how CranioSacral Therapy can help with prevention and reversal as well.
In the interim, if you want to know more, take a look at my webinar for the pubic-The BodyEnergy Longevity Prescription-How to Live a Long and Healthy Life.
When we talk about prevention and reversal of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, it is useful to look at prior conditions that actually set the stage for this disease in the first place.
Like many other discoveries, I came across this information by accident.
Years ago when I was consulting on a study about Craniosacral therapy and its effects on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, I noticed a striking correlation. After examining the health records of patients in our nursing homes, I discovered that a good majority of them were dealing with a number of health conditions that existed prior to being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
When I asked our Dementia expert about this, she said in a very nonchalant tone, ‘yes of course.’
I was shocked and instantly started to look into it on a much deeper level.
Here are some of the things that I discovered:
A common similarity among people with Alzheimer’s is the number of inflammatory conditions or diseases they are diagnosed with. This often starts out as an autoimmune response to some invader, or perceived threat to the body, and the immune system, in its attempt to product the body, gets confused and crates some undesirable side effects, such as the body attacking itself, one of the common characteristics of autoimmune disease.
I also found that many experts are calling a number of diseases inflammatory or autoimmune, such as diabetes, heart diseases, osteoporosis, MS, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even depression are more common than ever.
Alzheimer’s patients generally have 1 or more of these diseases which I have been calling the ‘diseases of aging’ as a collective. There is no age requirement and could start in the 40’s or 50’s age range or even younger.
In the next article I will go into what causes these diseases in the first place, but in the interim know that CranioSacral Therapy, changes in diet, and exercise can help to prevent and even reverse these effects.
Understanding the Nature of Alzheimer’s
I think most of us know the severity of Alzheimer’s in America and how greatly it has impacted the elder population.
For those who don’t know the specifics, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are diagnosed with this form of dementia; 5.2 million are 65 and older. This condition challenges the latter stage of people’s lives making the dynamic of everyone involved equally as difficult to deal with. I got into craniosacral therapy because I believed that unlike the tradition of seeking solutions outside of us, our bodies had everything needed to sustain health in the long run.
The Effects and Treatment of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s causes the amyloid β of the glymphatic system to back up the brain’s pathways and block spaces in between cells. Many specialists agree that amyloid β plaques prevent neuron generation and become the precursor to developing dementia. Therefore, by speeding up circulation of these elements in our glymphatic system, we can reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Although this may be considered an alternative treatment, the concept has been discussed for over 30 years. Dr. John Upledger introduced his pressure stat model which would cycle cerebral spinal fluid within the dural membranes promoting blood flow and releasing built up compression. Now, this gentle hands-on treatment is being validated in numerous health settings and published works around the world.
The Link Between Foods and Our Health
Additionally, what many of us have forgotten is that food was one of mankind’s very first medicines.
Researchers are barely beginning to rediscover the link between gastrointestinal health and our brain. By cutting out most of the ingredients found in an average diet such as processed foods, sugars, grains and starches, inflammation in the body and brain significantly decreases. This ultimately improves cognitive productivity and has the potential to not only treat but stop symptoms of dementia in its tracks. Of course, it’s most effective in conjunction with exercise, mental activity and a strong support system. Nevertheless, by re-evaluating our habits rather than looking outside of ourselves for solutions is giving mainstream science a run for its money.
I’d had a number of requests for a summary of our Alzheimer’s and Dementia, which I’ve outlined below:
Summary of our research
Published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing in 2008
Title of the Study: Craniosacral Still Point Technique:
Exploring its Effects in Individuals with Dementia
A pilot group of individuals with moderate to severe Dementia and Alzheimer’s were administered the Craniosacral Still Point Technique at the same time every day for 5-10 minutes.
Individuals in rest homes in Iowa and Minneapolis were the study candidates.
One of the key variables that were studied was agitation-a key behavior in patients with this condition. An improvement in just this one behavior would be seen as a positive by administration and staff.
Therapists trained by the Upledger Institute were utilized in this study.
Premise of the study:
It was felt that the Craniosacral Still Point-an easily administered and learned technique-would increase the
volume and production of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) in the brain. It has been documented that a normal adult
produces about 800ml a day of CSF, and over time, as aging occurs the production drops to half of that, or 400ml a day. In individuals with senile dementia or Alzheimer’s, the production could be as low as 200ml a day, or 75% less than that of normal adult production.
The suspected consequences of this decreased CSF flow this that there is a decrease in the ability of the brain to chelate, or wash away, heavy metals in the brain. Secondarily, immune system factors which prevent inflammation from occurring in the brain are diminished. Regular application of the Craniosacral still point on a daily basis is thought to increase the flow of CSF and aid in the removal of metabolic waste and toxicity in the brain.
Results of the study:
There were both clinical and statistical results that were of significance.
1. A decrease in agitation-both during and after the study. After the intervention stopped, the patients still experienced a decrease in agitation which was monitored before, during and after the project.
2. It was reported that clients were more interactive and could remember names of caregivers and children previously forgotten, as well as displaying increased cooperation with staff.
3. At about week 3 of the intervention, it was noticed that these results and changes in behavior begin to be exhibited.
4. It was generally concluded that ‘further investigation is warranted’ into this technique.
A proposal for a more expanded study is now in process.
For more information or a copy of the original study contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org