Tag Archives: alzheimer’s disease


Brain Scan From AboveA large study from Germany suggests that a readily available medication, Actos (Pioglitazone) may prevent Alzheimer’s disease from developing in diabetic patients, reducing their risk by 50%.

This study, looked at the records over 150,000 patients and the connection between taking Actos long term, and reduced Alzheimer’s risk, was substantial…about 50%.

This medication had been controversial int he past, in treating diabetes because of it’s questionable association with bladder cancer.  Subsequent studies have demonstrated NO CONNECTION WITH BLADDER CANCER, and with this new data, there is reason to show renewed interest in this medication.

Read more >>>HERE<<<<


brain lightbulbI am envisioning a day when my older patients with significant neurologic issues (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Dementias and Memory Decline of various types) will return to class to improve their brains and physical constitution.   They’ll go back to school….and they’ll like it!   This school would be called DDA …..Dr. Doug’s Academy (I’m riffing on an idea here…so let me have my fun!)

An elementary school at the age of 70, it would be a whole day affair.  It would start early in the morning, as the older set often have sleep issues.  The day would consist of more physical activity than mental activity, because it turns out that physical activity has the strongest correlation with improvement in brain function and memory.  We’d have 3-4 sections of physical activity daily, and then 2-3 classes that are academically oriented, as this remains important in it’s own right.

We’ll serve healthy food, abstain from liquor (to excess…a little liquor would be OK…perhaps even during the daytime!…..You’ll like my school.)  With all of this going on….we might need a naptime too with cookies and milk.

Why do I construct my school this way?  Because research is showing greater potential for spontaneous brain healing than we have previously imagined.  In this article from the WSJ sent in by a patient, you can read about the research that is informing such an approach.   Read>>>>HERE.



love yeWhy would you give mice Prozac?  Well……not to improve their moods.   Have you ever seen a depressed mouse???  I didn’t think so.

Researchers used Citalopram (a medication quite similar to Prozac as it is an SSRI….Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitor) in mice to see if this reduced the production of Beta-Amyloid protein in their brains, as this protein over-production and accumulation is strongly associated with the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.   Citalopram strongly reduced the accumulation of this protein, and in human volunteers, it reduced the amount of Beta-amyloid protein found in the cerebrospinal fluid.

Could Prozac and similar medications help prevent Alzheimer’s disease?  This data is suggestive, but further studies will be required to further elucidate the connection.  In the meanwhile, patients on these medications can take some comfort in the idea that they are getting protections while also treating their mood and anxiety symptoms.  Rather than worrying ‘what is the medication doing to harm me’, it’s nice to think that such medications may be providing additional benefits beyond what we imagined.







Well….my title for this piece is not quite accurate, but it rhymes!

I’m talking about the famous patient from the past, Phineas Gage.   His story if one of the ‘classics’ of neurology, as he had  a severe injury from an explosion that damaged his brain, and he lived to tell about it.  Although never formally studied by scientists, there have been many reports over the years about the course of his injury, recuperation, and later life.  Much of this has achieved the level of myth, and it is the challenge of sifting myth from fact that prompted the latest article in SLATE MAGAZINE (READ IT HERE).

Did the damage to his brain yield a man forever changed by that fateful day, or did his brain heal and leave him little different than prior to the injury?  Is the frontal lobe area in control of our personality, or is it only a minor player?  Read the SLATE MAGAZINE STORY to get a more objective view of the historical details as they are known.

Even I have spoke about Gage’s influence on our understanding of memory, when I gave my talk about memory and Alzheimer’s disease (Minute 8 of the Memory Video >>>HERE)    Much of what I said was incorrect and influenced by the publication from one of my former professors, Dr. Antonia Demasio (U of Iowa Neurologist…now at USC department of Neurology.)

So…like many people who think they ‘know’ the story….the truth is more interesting than the stories we’ve generally told.





balloonsAs most of you know, I am not a huge proponent of vitamins, based on concerns about the potential negatives they can cause,  as well as the lack of evidence for their general effectiveness.

That said, there are situations in which vitamins can be considered and here is a list of my current recommendations, with particular brands mentioned (that are known to be of high quality.  Other brands may be fine, but these are the ones I am comfortable with.)

Bones (documented osteoporosis with added Vitamin D required.)

Natural Factors Vitamin D3 (1000, 2000, 5000 unit capsules)

Calcium Citrate…..Citrical Brand (all varieties)



Nature Made Vitamin E 1000 unit capsules, 2 daily

B Vitamins (folic acid & B-12) in the form of Xymogen Methyl Protect, 1 daily (we have this at our office)



Nature Made Vitamin E 400 units capsules, 2 daily


Hair Loss (Alopecia)

Nature Made Biotin 2500mcg

Natural Factors Easy Iron, 20mg tablets, 1-2 daily


Iron Deficiency Anemia:

Natural Factors Easy Iron, 20mg tablets, 1-4 daily (easiest on the digestion)

Ferro Sequels (Ferrous Fumarate), slow release iron, 1-4 per day

Iron Sulfate 325mg, 1-3 per day

“Interesting if true, if not… interesting anyway” –Mark Twain

mark-twain-1Could it be that we have it all wrong about our ‘slower’ brains as we age.  These German researchers suggest so, explaining that older brains take longer to process information because they have so much information stored from past experience, that it takes more time to sift through this data.

Take heart…as we age….we all know things are improving in ways.  Perhaps this is another….

Read more HERE.



brainWhat is CRS? Well…it’s not a scientific term….it stands for “CAN’T REMEMBER SQUAT” …and is shorthand for the memory issues that develop as we get older.

Memory issues develop as young as 40 years-old, with the latest research showing that the 40+ brain is in decline as regards memory, and this is 10-20 years earlier than we previously thought.

With the conversation about dementia increasing with the aging of the population, the concerns about Alzheimer’s disease specifically, is becoming greater and there is an interest in educating the public about this condition.  As a result, efforts have been underway to identify patients with memory loss early to consider interventions in experimental studies.  Unfortunately, there are no medications for early memory loss, so the basics remain:  Good diet, Good exercise, and Good Habits (no smoking…to prevent strokes).

The latest article in the British Medical Journal calls into question the value of identifying patients with ‘CRS’ type memory issues early, as labeling individuals for memory loss may not be strongly associated with future issues of dementia.  Although we all remain concerned about this issue, it may be best to just ‘observe’ your memory and let things be, only  intervening with yourself or your loved-ones if the memory declines to a point of impairing day-to-day function.  Early identification may not provide benefit and may create more worry than help.



mark twain picMark Twain definitely was onto something when he said:
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
At least, it may apply to the latest research on Alzheimer’s disease and MS.
Most of us have know that Alheimer’s disease is defined by memory loss and that it is associated with findings in the brain under the microscopic.  These specific findings to the condition are ‘plaques and tangles’;  Microscopic evidence of the process that is robbing the brain of memory.

Recently, the ‘plaque’ seen in Alzheimer’s disease was also seen in mice with a form of MS (Multiple Sclerosis), and this finding prompted researchers at Stanford University to see if injecting mice with the ‘plaque material’ would result in progression of their disease.

The researchers took mice who were paralyzed by MS and injected them with this material and were expecting to see a progressive decline in their nervous systems, consistent with the idea that the plaque is causing the MS.  Much to their surprise, they found just the opposite.  They found that the mice that were injected actually regained the ability to walk.  This suggested to the researchers the possibility that  plaque is actually  a protective mechanism produced by the brain to thwart the progressive deterioration.  Of course, if this is correct, then this is a 180 degree turn in research and may provide a ready therapeutic modality for treatment of both conditions.

Time will tell, but remembering Twain’s quote is sobering.




brain lightbulbOur body is ‘electric’ in some ways.  The heart rhythms are developed through an electrochemical process, as are all the interactions of the nerves in the brain and nervous system.  For this reason, pacemakers have been used to correct slow heart rhythms or used to stimulate areas in the brain to improve Parkinson’s tremor (Barrow’s pioneered this.)

Now a small pilot study is being conducted at Johns Hopkins Hospital to see if electrical stimulation, implanted deep in the brain’s memory centers, can stimulate and protect memory in Alzheimer patients.  Although a ‘pilot study’, if useful, this is a fairly simple method for helping with early Alzheimer’s disease.   Data should be forthcoming in 1 year.




A just published article in the widely respected journal Nature, shows that genetic protection against Alzheimer’s Disease exists. The real excitement is that this genetic trait prevents the production of beta-amyloid, a protein known to be found in excess in brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
This strongly supports the idea that medication that prevent beta-amyloid production will potentially prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and these drugs are currently under study.