Natural Health Care and Neurologic Diseases
Alzheimer’s disease, MS, ALS and other serious neurological diseases, may be considered to be uncurable, but patients with these conditions may do well by taking steps to improve general health. Each patient and each disease state is different, but no one suffering from any disease, no matter how serious, will not benefit from taking steps to improve his or her general health.
For example, an analysis of data from the Nurse’s Health Study published in the Jan. 13, 2004 issue of Neurology, vitamin D may have a protective effect against multiple sclerosis (MS). Periods of exacerbation in MS patients have been linked to periods of low vitamin D levels and periods of remission have been linked to high vitamin D levels. Because the incidence of MS increases as you get farther from the equator, some scientists think that sunlight exposure and high levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of MS.
Mark Goodman Ph.D. has some interesting observations of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He believes that many patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease actually have dementia caused by a lack of vitamin B12 (“Are U.S. Lower Normal B12 Limits Too Low?” Journal of The American Geriatric Society, October, 1996;44(10):1274-1275).
A team of researchers at UCLA studied mice that were genetically predisposed to get an Alzheimer-like disease. Researchers fed one group of mice a diet deficient in DHA (a fatty acid found in fish oil). Another group was fed a diet that was very high in DHA. After five months the mice were given a memory test. They were trained to find a platform in water. The platform was then submerged. The mice had to remember where the platform was in order to find it again. The mice fed the DHA did much better in finding the platform than those fed the DHA deficient diet. In many cases the DHA deficient mice swam in a circle on the edge of the tank and could not find the platform at all.
In a study, published in the journal, Neurology (March 2000;54:1265-1272) 3,385 Japanese American men ages 71-93 were surveyed and tested for dementia over a nine year period. Participants taking both vitamin E and C supplements regularly (at least once a week) in 1988, were 88% less likely to have vascular dementia four years later. The group taking the supplements was also 69% less likely to have forms of dementia other than vascular or Alzheimer’s related dementia or mixed forms of dementia.
A study performed on mice and published in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry indicates that mice fed folic acid were more resistant to Parkinson’s disease than mice fed a diet deficient in the vitamin. According to research published in the February 14, 2002 New England Journal of Medicine shows high homocysteine levels can also double the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The conversion reactions that change homocysteine to the more benign amino acids are dependent on vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid.
A six-month double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 23 individuals with mild multiple sclerosis (MS) was performed at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. Physicians noted better performance on neuropsychological tests by patients who took Ginkgo biloba compared to those who took an inactive placebo. Past studies have shown that Ginkgo slows mental decline in Alzheimer’s patients, but no previous studies have been done on MS patients.