Is there a Relationship between your Mouthwash and Alzheimers? with Dr Teitelbaum; PLUS: SPRING DETOX – Open Enrollment – your SV Ayurveda Newsletter Feb 23, 2023 – #7, Vol 12

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5 things you can do to prevent it!

~ Dr Marianne Teitelbaum

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease where both the brain cell connections and the brain cells themselves degenerate and die, eventually destroying memory and other important brain functions.

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. More than 90 million Americans are genetically predisposed to the disease. There is a genetic test known as the APOE-4 test which detects the presence of the APOE-4 variant which is associated with increased risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Approximately 30% of the people in the United States test positive for this gene. But testing positive for the gene does not necessarily guarantee that you will come down with the disease.

You can use it as a screening tool. If you are positive you should work early on in your life to learn all the risk factors which could cause Alzheimer’s so that you can avoid them, thus preventing the disease. And even if you don’t have this gene you should take a proactive approach to preventing this disease.

And that is the key to curing Alzheimer’s — it lies in preventing it from happening in the first place. To do that, you need to identify and treat the specific underlying causes which are different in each person and fix them as early in the disease process as you can.

As with any disease, we go through several stages of a disease process as we work our way into a disease we can name. In the first two stages some things could be out of balance, but there are no symptoms just yet. But by the next two stages there are symptoms, but it cannot be definitively diagnosed as a disease. This happens in the fifth and sixth stages where the imbalances have been let go for too long and now pathological tissue damage has taken place to the point where you can identify it on testing.

This is particularly true with Alzheimer’s Disease. The latest research identifies four stages of decline as one works their way to a diagnosis of full-blown Alzheimer’s. The four stages are 1) Pre-symptomatic — this stage can last several years because there are no symptoms as of yet, but changes could be taking place in the brain. By the second stage, known as Subjective Cognitive Impairment you will notice some slip-ups where you might be forgetting a phone number, can no longer calculate a tip or recognize faces. This stage lasts for 10 years before the third stage, known as Mild Cognitive Impairment, develops. This is considered a late stage which ends up as Alzheimer’s. And the fourth stage is full-blown Alzheimer’s where one loses the ordinary functions of daily living and can no longer take care of themselves.

It’s important to know that if you can detect these early stages of cognitive decline and start treatment right away, you will be almost 100% successful in preventing it from blossoming into the 3rd and 4th stages. But to do this you need to be aware of all the things that could potentially be risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s. And if any of these risk factors apply to you, you must be willing to change your lifestyle, diet, and anything necessary to prevent further degeneration of your brain.

So let’s look at the most common problems associated in our modern lifestyles that could potentially lead to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Friendly Bacteria & Alzheimers

~ What’s the Connection? ~

First and foremost is your gut, oral and nasal microbiome. Most of us know that the gut contains friendly bacteria which, among other things, prevents infection from growing. However, we might not be as familiar with the idea of the oral microbiome or the nasal microbiome. The friendly bacteria lying in the gut, oral cavity and the nasal passages prevent infection from growing. Infections enter your body with nearly every breath you take. But there’s no need to worry, since the friendly bacteria in these 3 areas are the first line of defense to kill these unwanted bugs. They are there, ready to kill infection in its tracks, protecting you from nasty bacteria and viruses throughout your whole life. 

However, with the onset of so called “natural” mouthwashes which promise to kill infection, and steroid inhalers taken nasally and orally, the friendly bacteria which ordinarily live in the mucus membranes in the nasal passages and mouth die off, leaving you prone to infections. 

It’s no wonder that the bacteria in the mouth which cause gingivitis are thriving now and wind up in the brain causing Alzheimer’s. How can this happen and what does it mean for brain function?

Well, once these friendly bacteria in the gut, mouth and nasal passages die off, they have no way of controlling the growth of these bacteria, which can eventually migrate up to the brain. And once they are in the brain they form the amyloid plaque which is seen in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. E. coli is one of the most common infections which can overgrow in our gut. And it too, like gingivitis bacteria, can create plaque. It forms it as a way to protect itself from being killed. The problem is these sticky amyloid plaque fibers can migrate out of the gut, absorb into the blood stream, travel to the brain and then choke out the normal brain cells causing them to die off and lose their synaptic connections and ability to send nerve impulses. 

So please don’t use mouthwashes which kill infection in the mouth as they will also kill off your friendly bacteria which should be living in there. And if you have to use steroid inhalers either orally or nasally, you must learn how to regrow those bacteria as well. Or else run the risk of having oral and nasal infections travel to the brain creating amyloid plaque to protect itself. Probiotics and homemade takra, lassi, buttermilk, and yogurt will regenerate these beneficial bacteria. But it also turns out that whenever unwanted microbes congregate together they can embed themselves into a hardened protective shield to prevent their death from antibiotics, our immune system or probiotics. But just like the protective amyloid plaque, these hardened shields, known as biofilms can travel from our gut, absorb into the blood stream and get into the brain, taking over and causing Alzheimer’s as the plaque and biofilms damage the brain.

Fortunately research on berberine has demonstrated that it can attack and break down the biofilms. Barberries are the best food source of berberine and we have several Ayurvedic herbs such as Daruharidra and Guduchi which are also loaded with berberine. Haritaki has also been shown to break down biofilms. Caprylic acid found in goat’s milk is great for destroying biofilms especially when it is combined with pectin, found in apples and sweet potatoes. This is one of many reasons why we have our patients start out their day with a stewed apple.

The friendly bacteria in the gut and mouth need a thick layer of mucus to grow in. This is where butyrate comes in to both build up the gut mucosal barrier and tighten up the junctions in our gut cells, preventing the organisms to migrate into the bloodstream and travel into the brain in the first place. 

The first line of defense in the gut is this thick gloppy mucus layer forming a shield that cannot be penetrated by pathogens. This shield is made from butyrate, which our gut bacteria make for us. Fiber in the diet is the food used by these bacteria to make the butyrate which pumps out the cells which make mucus. And, remember that the ancient doctors said that ghee could heal the gut lining? They were right! It turns out that ghee is loaded with butyrate.

So to reiterate, because this is very important: our gut has what is called a “gut mucosal barrier.” This barrier is impenetrable to microbes — it separates the inner gut lining from the blood stream. And it represents the first line of defense against pathogens, creating a shield that cannot be penetrated. It is made up of two parts: the gut mucus layer and the tight junctions that hold together the cells in the gut. These tight junctions allow nutrients to pass through into the blood stream while at the same time blocking the pathogens and infections from getting through. 

But if you deplete the good bacteria the bad bacteria will take over very easily and break down the mucus layer, opening up the tight junctions (known as “leaky gut’) allowing infections, biofilms and plaque proteins to absorb into the blood stream and potentially make their way to the brain where they can take over, pushing out the good brain cells, and over time causing Alzheimer’s. And let me repeat this again: butyrate can restore the tight junction barriers. We can’t make butyrate, but our friendly bacteria can — by feeding them fiber found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. And ghee is famous for fixing this “leaky gut,” because it is loaded with butyrate. And the cultured ghee we recommend to our patients, the gold standard for ghee production, contains even more butyrate than regular ghee. So ghee provides not only the raw materials to build up the protective mucus barrier but also provides the butyrate to keep the junctions tight. And it also is the best source of cholesterol needed by the brain to function at peak performance.

No wonder the ancient doctors continually recommended ghee for optimum brain function!

Inflammation is another underlying cause of Alzheimer’s. When you have chronic infection in the gut due to a disturbed microbiome, the chronic reaction of the immune system in response to this infection produces inflammation as a by-product to fighting this infection. We always have inflammation when we’re fighting an acute infection, which is why our mucus membranes swell and we have joint pain when we have a cold or a flu. But these chronic infections stemming from the gut create chronic inflammation which can disturb the brain over an extended period of time. When cells in the brain are disrupted by inflammation, amyloid, a protein normally found in the brain, begins to react chaotically. This chaos results in the creation of beta-amyloid, a protein that is toxic to brain cells. Sticky deposits of beta amyloid build up and collect around the cells, making dense clumps or plaques. Because the brain can’t break down the plaques they stay right where they are and slowly accumulate.

Tangles result when long protein fibers that act like scaffolding for brain cells begin to twist and tangle. The cell is damaged and eventually dies. But the tangled proteins remain in the brain even after the dead brain cells have been cleared away. And inflammation and infection, as stated before, might be the culprit causing the long protein fibers to start tangling. It’s bad enough that these tangles and protein fibers cause brain cell death, but they also prevent the healthy cells from signaling to each other.

Now researchers have noticed a very important fact: People over the age of 65 living in rural areas of India have a less than 1% chance of developing Alzheimer’s. It goes up slightly to 2.4 percent in the larger cities. But people of the same age in the United States have a 17% chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

So researchers are trying to figure out what people in India are doing that we, here in the United States, aren’t doing. One thing they have identified is that people in India eat turmeric just about every day of their lives. And there have been more than 1300 studies on turmeric and its health benefits. It has been shown to reduce, prevent and stop inflammation. Researchers have always noticed the presence of inflammation in the areas where plaques and tangles form.

Amazing findings are coming from research on Alzheimer’s and the use of turmeric in both preventing and treating it. Researchers from UCLA studying turmeric have found it to be more effective than drugs currently being used for Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention.

The researchers have discovered that the actual structure and shape of turmeric allows it to penetrate the blood brain barrier and bind to beta amyloid plaque. Other research findings show that turmeric helps remove beta amyloid that’s already built up in the brain cells. Turmeric also helps maintain healthy brain cellular metabolism, helps the cells repair themselves and keeps the cells connected to each other. The head of UCLA’s research team was recently interviewed and stated that the research that’s being conducted to hopefully prove turmeric’s ability to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s was “tremendously exciting.”

I personally, from my own clinical experience of over 35 years treating thousands of patients, also feel that at least up until now and it could change, but people in India, especially in the rural areas, consume less of the pharmaceuticals which could disrupt the gut micro biome, such as repeated rounds of antibiotics and years on birth control pills. And in addition, most everyone eats home-made yogurt to constantly replenish their friendly bacteria. Combine that with the fact that people in India receive less flu shots containing deadly mercury which is very damaging to brain cells. And they may also be using less pharmaceuticals known to cause dementia, such as statin drugs which starve the brain of much needed cholesterol and acid reflux medicines which deplete acetylcholine. And one other important factor: people in India consume ghee, and especially in the rural areas the cultured ghee is still made, which is probably THE most nourishing food for the brain.

Next, proper blood flow is important to prevent Alzheimer’s. So it’s important to keep moving and exercising as you age to insure a good supply of blood to the brain at all times. 

And of course, we all know how toxins can contribute to Alzheimer’s. This is because those 80,000 chemicals which we have allowed into our environment have an affinity for the fat tissue. Which means that when you use those nasty skin-care products, or live in areas with high levels of air pollution or live around farmers who spray their fields with pesticides or you take various pharmaceuticals, these chemical toxins love to go directly into all your fat cells. And since a large part of the brain is made up of fat cells, the toxins love to go there. And they stay there for years and years and years. 

But of course, we have ways of pulling them out, using various Ayurvedic herbs, teas and tinctures. 

And don’t forget the heavy metals, such as mercury, make a beeline into the brain. Mercury is found in some vaccines, such as the flu shots, air pollution, certain species of fish and old dental fillings. And again, no need to worry, we have ways of pulling mercury out of the brain and flushing it out through the kidneys.

There are other nasty chemicals, such as aspartame, artificial sweeteners and MSG which also are famous for killing off the brain cells. Again, we know how to pull out these chemicals and have several rare herbs for healing the nerve cells in the brain and the myelin sheath, the covering to these nerve cells. 

Researchers at Harvard in 2016 performed the first study to see if acid reflux medicines, known as PPI’s, such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid can cause dementia. Their study proved that the use of these drugs did increase the risk of dementia by 44%. One thing they found out was that these drugs do cross the blood brain barrier which is normally sealed off so toxins can’t enter. But it wasn’t known until a study done in May 2020 and published in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Journal revealed that PPI’s affect the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. 

Acetylcholine plays a significant role in causing Alzheimer’s, and it turns out that these acid reflux medications decrease our brain’s production of acetylcholine so signals can’t be sent in the brain. Fortunately we have both oral and transdermal versions of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) which increases the body’s production of acetylcholine.Vaidya Mishra’s ALA is truly natural, made from broccoli and spinach, which research has shown that it is 10x more potent than the synthetic versions usually used.

Going on a low-fat diet, one which is devoid of cholesterol, is also a bad idea since the brain needs a constant supply of cholesterol in order to work everyday. And the latest research showed that 24% of those on the statin drugs, the drugs that lower cholesterol (the food for the brain) developed dementia over an 8-year-period of time versus 10% of people who didn’t use statin drugs. The cholesterol we recommend in Ayurveda comes from whole milk and ghee, which won’t clog the arteries. Here’s an important fact: the brain contains fat and is the fattiest organ in the body — nearly 60% fat. So this idea of following a low fat diet is a very dangerous one.

The herpes virus has also been implicated as one of the causes of Alzheimer’s. This virus lives in our nerve cells but heat can activate it. Which is why we try to keep the liver cool. The liver in modern times becomes overheated as all these modern toxins come through it, and since the liver makes the blood, the blood can then become hot, which can activate the herpes virus to erupt. So we teach our patients all the various ways to keep the liver cool, using herbs, dietary and daily routine changes.

And finally, it turns out that our body tries to clear out the nasty amyloid plaque in the brain through: sleep! Our brain travels through several phases of sleep, from light to deep sleep to rapid REM sleep when we have more dreams. Deep sleep is where a lot of cleaning takes place during the non-REM sleep.

Cerebrospinal fluid washes over the brain through a “rolling blackout,” which means that only parts of the brain get cleared at a given time. During the cleaning phase that part of the brain shuts down, cerebrospinal fluid rushes in and washes it out. Uninterrupted sleep is important for this cleansing effect which takes place 2-3 hours after falling asleep. But if you wake up during this time you have to start the whole cycle all over again. So it’s important that you have a good night’s sleep to help rid the brain of amyloid plaque which could cause Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, we have many herbs and other treatments available if you suffer from light or interrupted sleep.

Of course, there are probably many other reasons for the development of Alzheimer’s, but through fundamentally changing your diet, bedtime, exposure to sunlight, walking directly on the earth, keeping your toxins and mold exposure low, exercising, having good quality sleep, learning correct detox methods, using targeted herbs which heal the brain and balance the neurotransmitters and taking good care of your gut, oral and nasal microbiome, you have an excellent chance of preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s even if you carry the Alzheimer’s gene.

And don’t be confused if your doctor brushes off your symptoms of forgetfulness saying it’s all part of the normal aging process or if your MRI shows “normal shrinkage of the brain.” Now is the time to jump in and prevent that from progressing into full-blown Alzheimer’s. Remember, these early stages of dementia can last for 10 or more years, and during that time you can do so many things to prevent further cognitive decline. And, as stated before, research has shown that if you jump in during the very early stages of Alzheimer’s you have a 100% chance of preventing it from progressing further. 

You just have to be willing to make these changes, but it’s a good tradeoff for not having to worry about this very terrible disease that is afflicting so many in our country.

Thank you,

Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum

Cinnaminson, New Jersey


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