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The Insiders

Answer for

Marc S. Micozzi, M.D., Ph.D.

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The Insiders Answer for Dodging Dementia

B rain deficiencies and disorders have been a

mystery to medicine for centuries. In fact, sci-
entists are just as puzzled about mental health and
erful organization of professional psychologists. While
they do not use psychiatric drugs, they have been slow
to embrace the kind of mind-body therapies that
disease today as they were a hundred years ago. This have been effective for problems that seem to cross
is despite the efforts of our recent politically-desig- the border between mind, body, and spirit (although
nated Decade of the Brain (1990-1999). Unfortu- they politely gave audiences to me and my colleagues,
nately weve yet to overcome this century-long and our medical textbooks, at their annual meetings
challenge despite the lavish funds poured into the through the 2000s).
usual academic-medical complex. And of course all the while, research, develop-
Years ago, many mental illnesses were thought to ment, and discovery of effective treatments for you
have an underlying disease (or pathology). If an un- slog on at a snails pace.
derlying disease could be found, then a treatment So what, exactly, DO we know?
could be developed. Sigmund Freud originally became
All confusion and debate aside, thankfully, there
a brain pathologist, searching for these organic causes.
are some important fundamentals about how the brain
But when the brains of people with mental illnesses
works that are central to understanding the similarities
were found to be normal pathologically, he eventu-
and differences inherent in brain biology.
ally switched courses. This is how he came to estab-
lish psychoanalysis as a different path to The brain is very metabolically active. Therefore,
understanding mental health. it needs a constant supply of a lot of blood to deliver
oxygen and glucose to support brain metabolism. One-
On the other side of the equation, brain disorders
third of total blood volume flows to the brain. That
that, in fact, turned out to have an underlying patho-
means one-third of the blood cells, one-third of the
logical cause were mistakenly thought to be psycho-
oxygen, one-third of the blood sugar and other nutri-
logical illnesses. For example, general paresis of the
ents circulating in our blood is needed by the brain.
insane turned out to be caused by tertiary syphilis,
where the untreated syphilis organisms go on to de- Accordingly, the brain is very sensitive to depriva-
stroy brain tissue. tion of oxygen, glucose, and nutrients. In fact, the
brain will die if deprived of oxygen and glucose for
Modern psychiatry still struggles with how to di-
only 2-3 minutes (loss of consciousness, coma, then
agnose and classify brain disorders. Periodically they
death). This is a striking difference when compared to
issue a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical
the needs of the lower body. For example, during sur-
Manual (DSM), the bible of mental health. But lack-
gery, when blood flow is clamped off below the kid-
ing an understanding of the mechanisms of many dis-
neys, the legs can go without oxygen for hours and
orders, we fall back on using statistical descriptions
return to normal health as long as blood flow is even-
and characteristics.
tually restored.
In addition, the process for updating the DSM for
The brain is also very selective in what it allows to
2012 has been fraught with conflict and dissension, as
pass from the blood into the brain tissue. This is some-
documented in the popular press. And of course, its
thing we refer to as the blood-brain barrier. While
all due to the same problems we find throughout mod-
other tissues of the body are generally bathed in the
ern medical research: academic careerism, medicaliza-
same constituents that are carried in the blood, the brain
tion of life events and processes (which particularly
carefully selects what is allowed to pass into the fluids
have an impact on how people are feeling), limita-
that surround the brain (cerebro-spinal fluid). This prop-
tions in research methodology, government interfer-
erty is fortunate because it keeps out a lot of toxins that
ence with professional practices, politicization and
would be harmful to the sensitive brain tissue.
political correctness, and the bias to replace psy-
chotherapies with psychiatric drug therapies. This selective nature of the brain becomes critical
when it comes to medications that are prescribed for
Another part of the problem is the large and pow-

The Insiders Answer for Dodging Dementia

mental health and disease. At the same time, its im- Alzheimers is just one form of devastating demen-
portant to make sure any nutrients you may be taking tia. The common denominator in all dementia is neuro-
are in forms that will make it across the highly selec- degeneration, destruction and loss of neurons, or nerve
tive blood-brain barrier. cells in the brain. The common neuro-degenerative
Neuro-nutritive nutrients for problems afflicting the brain and mind include:
your body and mind
Alzheimers disease (AD). Currently, its esti-
There are many approaches to maintaining health mated that nearly 5 million Americans have AD. Its
and managing diseases of the body using herbal and di- also the 8th leading cause of death in the United
etary supplements. However, when it comes to under- States. And once diagnosed, the average life span of
standing and applying basic nutrition to enhancing and an Alzheimers patient is eight years. The spectrum
improving the normal mental functions and perform- (and fearful specter) of age-related cognitive decline
ance of the mind, there is still the blood-brain barrier is a major neuropsychological area that has yet to be
to contend with. The good news is, it can be done. addressed by the pharmaceutical or the natural prod-
Through the combination of cognitive science ucts industry.
and nutritional medicine, science has developed di-
Schizophrenia-related cognitive impairment.
etary supplements and food products that can en-
Today as many as 60 million people worldwide have
hance basic brain and mental function and
schizophrenia. Most people with schizophrenia also
performance. While there is much talk of smart
suffer from cognitive impairment, although it is inde-
drugs, which may theoretically be taken by anyone
pendent of the psychotic symptoms of the illness. In
to support improved mental performance, there is
North America, it is estimated that more than two
some proof of smart nutrients that cross the blood-
million people have schizophrenia. While there is an
brain barrier and help the brain do its basic job using
$18-billion drug business to treat the psychosis asso-
safe and effective vitamins, minerals, and natural
ciated with schizophrenia, there are no approved
drugs for treating the cognitive impairment.
Unfortunately, many of these natural smart nutri-
ents are still clouded in controversy. Fielding heavy Mild cognitive impairment from bypass sur-
criticism from the modern medical-complex. So gery. Approximately 500,000 patients in the U.S. and
much so, that many alternative practitioners will 800,000 patients worldwide undergo coronary artery
even avoid the topic completely. bypass graft (CABG) surgery every year. It has now
been recognized that the changes in blood flow asso-
Even herbs that have been used effectively for
ciated with the procedure bring about dementia in
decadessuch as ginkgo biloba for dementia, kava
many patients. Currently there is no therapy available
kava for anxiety, St Johns wort for mild-moderate
approved to ameliorate or treat the cognitive damage
depression, valerian for insomnia, and feverfew for
migraine headache. So you can imagine that when it associated with artery bypass surgery.
comes to addressing something as serious, and con- Stroke. Every 45 seconds in the U.S., someone
founding, as Alzheimers disease, nearly everyone experiences a stroke. This fact translates into approx-
looks the other way. Which is tragic, because there imately 700,000 new or recurrent strokes in the U.S.
are alternatives that may help. each year. It is the second leading cause of mortality
And recently, the research behind one nutrient in in the world, the third leading cause of death in the
particular is beginning to lead the pack: U.S., and is the leading cause of long-term disability.
Berberinethe Alzheimers answer In spite of this, there has been failure to provide ef-
no one will pay attention to fective treatments.
Ill share the inside scoop on berberine in just a And berberine is one mental powerhouse that
bit. But first, its important to keep in mind may have the ability on almost all fronts to provide

The Insiders Answer for Dodging Dementia

greater cognitive support and protection. To dodge blood-brain barrier and affect cells of the central
dementia before it stops you. And its a solution you nervous system. And new experimental results have
arent likely to hear about elsewhere. found that berberine works in three distinct ways:
And thats just the tip of it all 1. It can safeguard your brain from the dangerous
Brain health might be the obvious problem no oxidation damage that can eat away at brain tissue.
one is paying attention to, but that doesnt mean its 2. It targets and destroys memory-killing en-
the only thing this medical marvel has going for it. zymes that have long thought to be key in the devel-
Berberine has been shown to help in the fight against opment of Alzheimers.
diabetescholesterol infectioninflammation 3. It promotes healthy blood flow directly to the
and more. brainan essential element to conquering dementia.
Berberine is a natural powerhouse that has long Berberine also seems to be able to block certain
been used throughout history. It is still used today in nerve receptors, which may partly explain its anti-
Northern India, as a bright yellow coloring dye for Alzheimer and neurotransmitter modulating proper-
leather, wood, and wool fabrics. In fact, if you have a ties. Other experimental studies have shown
woven Indian carpet on your floor, you have proba- berberine to increase neurotransmitter (noradrenaline
bly already noted the bright yellow color imparted by and serotonin) levels in the brain. Berberine may also
berberine. It also has a use in modern medicine and act in a manner comparable to some anti-depressant
pathology because of its ability to stain certain tissue drugs by increasing available serotonin in the brain.
cells to show their appearance under the microscope.
Results suggest benefits in patients with depres-
Berberine is found in numerous plants worldwide, sion, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, or re-
including the large plant family Berberis, or the bar- lated diseases in which cognitive capabilities are
berries. It is also found in the important (and ecologi- affected.
cally threatened) medicinal plant Hydrastis
canadensis (Goldenseal), and the important Chinese The half-life of berberine suggests administration
herb Rhizome coptidis (Golden thread or Huang- of a daily dose of 500 mg, taken two or three times
Lian), among others. Berberine is usually found in per day to achieve a steady state.
the roots, stems, and bark. Chemically, it is an iso- Beyond berberine
quinolone alkaloid, and the plant alkaloids are known As mentioned above, there are several natural
to have a number of potent biological activities. products that have been shown to help protect the
Indeed, typical of plant alkaloids, berberine has a brain. Following is a quick list of those least talked
number of health effects, throughout the body, includ- about in terms of brain function and mental health by
ing acting as a potent antibiotic (which can also over- both mainstream and alternative practitioners.
come infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to Creatine
drug antibiotics), anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic. Creatine is a beta-amino acid popularized in re-
Hundreds of recent research studies (far too many cent years by bodybuilders and other athletes for
to share in detail here) reveal this medical marvel can muscle development and repair of muscle tissue after
provide a host of additional health benefits. Its been exercise, as well as energy-enhancing properties.
shown to help lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar Some reports suggest that people over 60 do not
metabolism, and has anti-cancer properties. make enough creatine to maintain muscle and
And incredibly, new research shows berberine strength.
may also hold the key to preventing and even slow- But creatine is becoming more widely researched
ing the progression of Alzheimers disease and other for its neuro-protective and neurogenesis benefits.
dementia, like nothing before it. In part, because For example, as an element for some alternative treat-
berberine has been found to be able to penetrate the ments for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and

The Insiders Answer for Dodging Dementia

Parkinson s disease. The dosages for such treatment Modern research shows that royal jelly improves
would be at a higher, therapeutic level, and not the lipoprotein metabolism, promotes growth of neuronal
more typical recommended dose of between 1 and 2 stem cells and neurons, inhibits oxidation of lipids (as
grams. Accordingly, use of creatine should be individ- in brain tissue) and is a general antioxidant. A dose of
ually tailored and monitored under supervision of a 6 to 10 grams (6,000 to 10,000 mg) per day, essen-
qualified health practitioner. tially used in food quantities, is recommended.
Lecithin Cocoa
Lecithin is generally a mixture of glycolipids, Cocoa contains biologically active flavonols and
triglycerides, and phospholipids (e.g. phosphatidyl- polyphenols. Flavonols have recently been the sub-
choline, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidyli- ject of much research. They have been found to en-
nositol). Phospholipids are the major component of the hance vasodilation which in turn decreases blood
membranes that encase every cell in the body. In the pressure and increases peripheral blood flow to the
brain, phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylinositol muscles as well as to the brain. Cocoa has also been
protect nerve cells by forming a protective sheath shown to improve lipid metabolism. And interna-
around them to insulate them, allowing nerve impulses tional researchers have recently uncovered even more
to move more efficiently to and between cells. In addi- healthy properties associated with the flavonol an-
tion, phosphatidylcholine is a precursor of acetyl- tioxidants found in cocoa beans.
choline, a neurotransmitter in the brain and muscles. Eighteen chocolate-centered studiesincluding
An increase in acetylcholine may lead to more effi- investigations of how cocoa might affect blood pres-
cient nerve and muscle function and increased mem- sure, heart disease, painful nerve disorders and can-
ory performance and capacity. Unfortunately, some cer riskwere presented at the American Chemical
medications can deplete acetylcholine. Supplementing Societys annual meeting in March 2012. These stud-
with lecithin may help counter this drug side effect. ies establish the biological plausibility of antioxidant
Some qualitative research on lecithin supplementa- effects of dark chocolate in small groups and even
tion found that when a short-term or long-term mem- demonstrated the potential harm-reducing effects for
ory deficit exists, a single therapeutic dose of lecithin smokers.
can increase memory performance within 90 minutes. But dont look for health benefits from your fa-
It may also help improve verbal and visual memory. vorite milk chocolate candy bar. Most of the studies
And lecithin has neuro-protective effects related to used unsweetened regular cocoa powder. Theres a
Alzheimers disease. couple of degrees of separation because when you
Lecithin is available in 1,000 mg supplement make chocolate you add fat, in the form of cocoa but-
doses, but may require up to 25 grams (25,000 mg) ter and sugar. And nobodys going to eat a tablespoon
daily, used in food quantities, to see the full benefits. of unsweetened cocoa. So the studies used cocoa-
Royal Jelly flavonoid compound supplements, with average
doses of 400 to 500 milligrams. Which is equivalent
Royal jelly is an amino acid-rich gelatinous sub-
to 32 bars of milk chocolate or eight to nine bars of
stance secreted by worker bees to feed queen bees.
dark chocolate. Too much for even the most die-hard
Since queen bees grow to be considerably larger than
worker bees, and live much longer, it has been as-
sumed by many enthusiasts to produce benefits for But no matter how much you love dark chocolate,
humans. The popularity of health products containing it simply cant substitute for healthy eating, exercise,
royal jelly has increased over the past years. While and above all, cutting back on smoking.
its anti-aging and energy-enhancing properties have You can find cocoa flavonol extract supplements
been reputed for many decades, only recently has with up to 1,000 mg in natural supplement shops and
more rigorous research been performed to separate from online supplement retailers.
fact from folklore.
The Insiders Answer for Dodging Dementia

Virgin Coconut Oil veloped a role in vision and eye health as a dietary
Coconut oil, in its virgin state, is a tropical oil supplement. Since the eye contains neurological tissue,
consisting of medium-chain fatty acids that convert this has led to current interest in its possible benefits
readily into energy and are not stored in the body as for the brain. In addition to eating green leafy vegeta-
fat. These kinds of essential fats are important for bles, a daily dose of 12 mg of lutein is recommended.
brain tissue cell membranes and neuronal sheaths. Going above and beyond for total protection
A saturated fat, it has been maligned for several In addition to supplementation, staying active
decades as a result of misinformation by the vegetable (mentally and physically) will help keep your brain
oil industry (see the Weston A. Price Foundations fit as well as your body. Do the daily crossword puz-
website at Alternative health zle and keep up with your monthly Insiders Cures
practitioners advocate coconut oil consumption for newsletter and Daily Dispatch emails.
weight loss and maintenance regimens. Coconut oil is A healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight
a rich source of lauric acid and monolaurin, known is also important (see The Top of the Food Chain
agents that are being explored by pharmaceutical com- Cure for Obesity in your free Library of Confidential
panies for drug development potential. Coconut oil Cures). And controlling blood pressure and heart dis-
lowers lipoprotein cholesterol levels in the blood and ease is key to maintaining healthy circulation and
tissues and lowers lipoprotein markers for heart attack. blood flow to the brain (and to avoiding strokes) (see
A dosage of 20 grams (20,000 mg), essentially in food High Blood PressureSilent, Deadly, but Easily
quantities, appears beneficial. Overcome in your free Library of Confidential
Taurine Cures). Controlling diabetes is also critical as high
Taurine is so named because it was initially iso- blood sugar can destroy nerves and the blood vessels
lated from ox bile (Taurus, the bull). It is a beta- that supply them.
amino acid gaining attention from researchers and Not to be overlooked
supplement manufacturers for health-promoting and In late-breaking news, the FDA has now issued a
anti-aging properties. warning that statin drugs for lowering cholesterol
Research has shown taurine plays a role in the (see High Blood PressureSilent, Deadly, but Easily
function of skeletal muscles and the central nervous Overcome in your free Library of Confidential Cures)
system, as well as regulating blood pressure and glu- may cause memory loss and confusion, in addition to
cose levels. Its also being explored as an adaptogen raising cancer rates and interfering with blood sugar
and anti-anxiety agent. Taurine has been identified as in diabetes.
an amino acid neurotransmitter. A dose of 500 mg per And in an ongoing effort to bring you the whole
day offers sufficient health benefits. truth about tobacco (and not just the politically cor-
Lutein rect version), it has been found that nicotine improves
Lutein is a prominent constituent of green, leafy dementia and cognitive impairment (see The Day Sci-
vegetables. I helped discover its role in human metab- ence went Up in Smoke in your free Library of Confi-
olism and nutrition in the 1980s. Since then, it has de- dential Cures).

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