Column #301 June 11, 2021
The controversial Alzheimer's treatment called Aduhelm (aducanumab) won FDA approval last Monday via the accelerated approval pathway. By using this pathway, the agency approves a drug for a serious or life-threatening illness that may provide meaningful therapeutic benefit over existing treatments while there remains some uncertainty about the drug's clinical benefit. It’s similar to the approval process for the new COVID-19 vaccines.1
Is this treatment for a chronic disease a huge breakthrough for its developer, Biogen, and a feather in the cap for the entire pharmaceutical industry? Or is it another big-time, moneymaking scam that will pay huge dividends to the pharmaceutical industry and cost patients and taxpayers alike? Well, it might not be a scam in that it is labeled as experimental and the side effects are well known. Yet, if it doesn’t actually work, then it’s a scam.
Elizabeth Cooney, from the Stat website, reported the following regarding side effects: “In two clinical trials, about 40% of clinical trial patients who got the approved dose of Aduhelm developed painful brain swelling. Symptoms included headache, dizziness, visual disturbances, nausea, and vomiting; about 17% to 18% of patients had microhemorrhages, or small bleeds in their brain. Patients will be monitored for brain swelling before their seventh and 12th infusions. If imaging shows severe swelling, treatment can continue ‘with caution only after a clinical evaluation and a follow-up MRI demonstrates radiographic stabilization,’ the label says.”
She also mentioned the cost. “Biogen said the yearly cost for a maintenance dose of Aduhelm, based on an average patient’s weight, would be $56,000. That’s a wholesale list price, not the net price or the price paid by patients with insurance. How much patients will pay out of pocket for the drug will depend on their insurance coverage.”2
That $56,000 tab would buy a lot of Grass-Fed Beef Porterhouse Steaks. In fact, it would buy 1,867 pounds which is enough for 5.11 pounds a day for 365 days. The big bonus with exclusively eating grass-fed beef is that there are no side effects and a much better chance of suppressing Alzheimer's or keeping it at bay. It you prefer the Grass-Fed Ground Beef High-Fat Economy Pack, the $56,000 can buy 6,596 pounds, which is 18 pounds a day per year for the same positive impact on Alzheimer's as the Porterhouse.
How does Aduhelm work? According to Biogen, it eliminates beta-amyloid clumps in the brain—a process that Biogen says slows their ability to destroy neurons. But Dr. Dale Bredesen says the amyloids are part of the brain’s defensive mechanisms. The amyloid precursor protein (APP) is the master switch leading to Alzheimer's. As part of the protective immune system, it breaks down in protective response to pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and toxins or other attacks on the body.3
I’ve written about Dr. Dale Bredesen quite a few times over the years. He is an internationally recognized neurologist, cognitive health researcher, and medical innovator. During 40 years of research he discovered 36 molecular mechanisms involved in cognitive decline. This is too many mechanisms for any single drug to address. This is why eliminating beta-amyloid clumps in the brain, like Biogen wants to do, is attacking a symptom rather than the cause. Drawing from his findings, he wrote a 2017 New York Times Bestseller “The End of Alzheimer’s.”4
Dr. Bredesen’s first paper about his protocol, published in 2014, reported on nearly four years of trials with ten people. It explained that of the first ten patients nine displayed subjective or objective improvement in cognition beginning within 3-6 months. The one failure was a patient with very late stage Alzheimer’s. He attributes their recoveries to a positive lifestyle protocol which has proven to be more effective than monotherapeutics (drugs) in curing or suppressing multiple chronic illnesses, such as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, HIV, and cancer.5
Alzheimer’s is the brain’s defensive response to harm. Therefore, instead of eliminating beta-amyloid clumps in the brain like Biogen wants to do, Bredesen’s protocol calls for eliminating harm and rebuilding the body’s defenses. This makes sense because all chronic diseases are rooted in persistent harm caused by inflammation, obesity, fungi, IBS, toxins, lack of sleep, stress, weakness, nutritional deficiencies, and similar issues. His solutions include improving the diet, 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 days a week, eight hours of sleep per night, daily meditation, fasting 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, optimized oral hygiene, and a list of supplements starting with two teaspoons a day of quality fish oil.6
His diet follows the basic Mediterranean Diet, one of the easier diets for people to transition to. He then fortifies that diet with numerous supplements as outlined in his report. He stresses the supplements because many people do not stick to prescribed diets. Interestingly, all of his recommended supplements occur naturally in the combination of grass-fed meats, wild-caught seafood, Omega-3 meats, and green leafy vegetables.
Chemically, Bredesen’s dementia-prevention diet replicates my recommendation for a low-glycemic, nutrient dense and diverse diet that seeks a balanced Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acid (EFA) ratio of 1:1. Therefore, better than following the Mediterranean Diet and loads of supplements, far and away the best foods to eat are grass-fed meats, wild-caught seafood, Omega-3 meats, and green leafy vegetables and other suitable vegetables. The goal, just like with a cancer diet, is to eliminate high glycemic foods, carbohydrates, grains, seeds, processed foods, and most nuts.
The restrictions on grains, seeds, and most nuts are due to their skewed nutrient loads and anti nutrients. In addition their high-Omega-6 loads makes balancing the EFAs almost impossible even when taking a fish oil supplement. High Omega-6 loads create the Omega-3 deficiency which results in inflammation. Of special note, if one is disciplined in their diet, by sticking mostly with grass-fed meats, wild-caught seafood, Omega-3 meats, and green leafy vegetables they should get the nutrients that are in Bredesen’s recommended supplements. For the greatest benefit one has to eat meats rare. Overcooking always reduces the nutrient compositions of any food—animal or plant. In spite of that, if I were already mentally compromised, I would start the battle by including all of the supplements recommended in his report, at least initially, and then slowly wean myself off them.
Drugs and operations mostly focus on single pathways and that kind of narrow targeting can show change in chronic disease symptoms. But, in human studies those approaches do not eliminate the causes for Alzheimer’s. That’s because Alzheimer’s is a chronic illness like cancer, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and other afflictions that require metabolical approaches that address multiple modalities at the same time. That’s why Bredesen’s metabolical approach of diet, supplements, sleep, exercise, and meditation not only reverses Alzheimer’s, it will have a positive impact on other chronic diseases too. Best of all, it’s a no-risk metabolical approach that doesn’t have negative side effects.7
There are medical people out there who have written negative reviews about the Bredesen protocol. They say his reports are just antidotal stories rather than documented comparisons between two groups—where one group follows the protocol and other is given placebos. Also, they do not like the idea that the treatments may vary with the individual depending on their personal circumstances.
Unfortunately, not everyone fails the same way from the same or differing deficiencies or harms. And, of course, many “professional” medical and pharmaceutical people are going to call everything a scam that’s a low-cost alternative to what they peddle. It’s no secret that prescribing lifestyle changes doesn’t enrich any particular group. That’s because the marketers and producers of the solutions do not have product exclusivity. There’s basically no market entry restriction on the production of beds, vegetables, livestock, seafood, calisthenics, supplements, and what have you. They are commodities the free market produces based on demand.
Obviously, Dr. Bredesen is an outlier in the industry. After the experiences we all have had in the past year with being dictated to by bureaucrats, oligarchs, the MSM, and big pharma, maybe listening to outliers can be more rewarding. We are responsible for our own actions. So let’s be responsible.
To your health.
Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.
Don't miss these links for additional reading:
1. FDA’s Decision to Approve New Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease by Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, Director, FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
2. FAQs: What You Need to Know About the Alzheimer’s Drug Aduhelm by Elizabeth Cooney from Statnews
3. A Precision Approach to End Alzheimer's Disease by Dale Bredesen from TEDx Manhattan Beach—This link is highly recommended.
4. The End of Alzheimer’s by Dr. Dale Bredesen
5. Reversal of Cognitive Decline: a Novel Therapeutic Program by Dr. Dale Bredesen
6. Reversing Cognitive Decline by Ted Slanker
7. Preventing and Reversing Dementia by Ted Slanker