A Revolutionary View of Alzheimer’s

Albert Einstein is frequently quoted for saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Much of what goes on in medicine fits this definition. Researchers and practitioners go around in circles, trying small variations on the same approach, and not finding the results they hope for.

The issue is, all of the variations are rooted in the same mindset. In medicine, the prevailing mindset is that the solution to any condition is a magic bullet in the form of a pill to correct the issue. It’s an outdated attitude that worked in the days when penicillin was discovered to kill the bacteria that caused pneumonia, rheumatic fever, blood poisoning and other infections. Penicillin was the magic bullet that ushered in the age of antibiotics at a time when untreated infections were a major cause of death.

However, the landscape has shifted. Today’s health issues are primarily complex chronic conditions. Think heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, chronic fatigue and Alzheimer’s. Despite the enormous amount o money and effort put toward finding the magic bullet, it hasn’t happened.

The prevailing medical view of Alzheimer’s is a good example of stuck thinking.

Doctors are taught that once a person shows signs of Alzheimer’s, continued deterioration is inevitable. Drugs might be able to slow the progression, but there is absolutely no possibility of reversing the condition.

As the title of this post suggests, that belief has now been proven to be untrue. But before we look at who says so and why, let’s get a fuller sense of the prevailing medical view. Here’s some of what the Mayo clinic says in its information for patients:

Alzheimer’s drugs might be one strategy to help you temporarily manage memory loss, thinking and reasoning problems, and day-to-day function. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s drugs don’t work for everyone, and they can’t cure the disease or stop its progression. Over time, their effects wear off.

…Clinical trials testing whether Alzheimer’s drugs might prevent progression of MCI [mild cognitive impairment] to Alzheimer’s have generally shown no lasting benefit.

…Cholinesterase inhibitors [the main class of medication] can’t reverse Alzheimer’s disease or stop the destruction of nerve cells. These medications eventually lose effectiveness… Common side effects can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

…Because Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, your symptoms and care plan will change over time. …Because the effects of Alzheimer’s drugs are usually modest, it might be difficult to tell if the drugs are working. However, you can’t know if your symptoms might be more severe without your medication.

With that as the current view, is it any wonder there is great anxiety among aging adults? What a hopeless situation to face.

Except…it isn’t hopeless at all.

Dr. Dale Bredesen has created an entirely different outcome for patients by approaching Alzheimer’s from a different mindset. Instead of using the magic bullet approach, he’s using a “magic buckshot” protocol.

Discovery quote

Dr. Bredesen sees patients in the same condition as other researchers and clinicians, but thinks differently about what is going on and what would help. Instead of looking for one therapy for Alzheimer’s, he recognizes that it’s a condition with multiple contributing factors. In the interview below, he points out that looking for a mono-therapy to treat a complex chronic illness is like using a checker strategy for a chess match. It can’t work.

His program, which has been tested and published, considers 36 different entry points when determining how to treat a particular person. As he notes, they are looking for the root cause(s) and this can differ from person to person. You might be surprised to learn that mold in the environment and heavy metals like mercury in the body are among these factors.

The stunning finding is that people experience sustained improvement when continuing on the protocol because they are treating the root cause. Next spring, Dr. Bredesen’s organization will launch a documentary that follows people using this protocol and shows the impact on their lives.

Comprehensive protocol

The research is compelling and Dr. Bredesen has recently published a book to make this new information accessible to all of us. A New York Times bestseller. The End of Alzheimer’s is a manual for professionals and the rest of us, featuring both the evidence behind the protocol, and practical information about what we can do.
In addition, physicians and other health professionals are being trained in this protocol around the world. And an institute is being established where people can go for treatment.
All of that is very encouraging, as is Dr. Bredesen’s assertion that we are at a unique point in history where we are able to attack complex chronic illnesses successfully for the first time. The interview below will give you a chance to hear him speak about his work and the impact it can have…for Alzheimer’s and beyond.

Change your mindset, change the game.

Beliefs can be changed

The psychological and physiological effects of anything in our lives can be influenced by our mindset. That means what you think can change your body’s response.

For example, if you think stress is bad for you, your body will respond accordingly. Continue reading

Do your assumptions trip you up?

Mine did. Literally. Tripped me up.

Here’s the evidence. In full colour, an unretouched photo.

Me with blackened eye

So…how did I get a black eye, and how does it relate to assumptions?

I tripped on a curb. Well, not a curb exactly. I was stepping onto the accessibility ramp that transitions the pavement to the sidewalk.

There was no snow or ice. I was not in a hurry. I was not distracted by my phone or iPod. I did not faint and then fall. I was wearing flat shoes that are old friends. There was no obvious reason for this to happen.  Continue reading

Conscious Business. Possible?

I’m a systems thinker, and for a long time have been aware of the dysfunctional nature of the economic system we live in. That’s what prompted me to write a book about navigating the consumer culture without being swallowed up by it.

When I wrote Conscious Spending, Conscious Life, my view was that the system needed a drastic overhaul. I talked about the work of alternative thinkers such as David Korten, Ray Anderson, Paul Hawken, and Muhammad Yunus.

If I’d known then about John Mackey and conscious capitalism, I would certainly have written about him too. Continue reading

Holiday. Fun?

With the arrival of December, many people experience angst over the approaching holiday. For some, this has to do with awkward, difficult and/or impossible family relationships, which come into focus under the cultural expectation of family togetherness at this time of year.

However, consumer debt is a more pervasive source of December dread. Yesterday’s news reported on Bank of Canada concerns about increasing levels of consumer debt. The Globe & Mail referred to “insatiable borrowing,” quoting a senior director of Equifax, a major credit reporting agency: “Following a frenzied start to the festive shopping season with more to come in the countdown to Christmas, we can expect the consumer debt to rise even further. Tis the season, so we can anticipate credit cards getting a strong workout throughout December.”

Living in a consumer culture puts us under enormous pressure to spend mindlessly. And our ready access to credit cards has been the marketers’ dream, fuelling the attitude they want us to have: What the heck, spend beyond your current capacity because you can.

Naturally, they love it when we pay their 20% interest for years and years. However, the financial consequences are far beyond what most people imagine. The system is complicated and complex, and there is much we don’t know. Early in my teaching career, I discovered that students generally thought that if they made the minimum payment on a credit card, they weren’t in debt. By using their cards and paying the required minimum, they thought they were doing the smart and adult thing. However, that is an illusion. It takes a shocking length of time to pay off debt Continue reading

Financial Literacy: Crucial for all of us

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. This annual event acknowledges the need to educate ourselves in a crucial area of life—how to navigate the consumer culture without being consumed by it.

This initiative came out of the work of a task force that travelled the country to assess the state of financial literacy in Canada.  My submission to that task force expressed the view that all post-secondary students should be required to complete a personal finance course in order to graduate.

I was pleased that the final report of the task force recommended that “…all provincial and territorial governments integrate financial literacy in the formal education system, including…post-secondary education and formalized adult learning activities.”

Realistically, this is unlikely to happen. But Continue reading