Worrying about your cognitive function is exhausting. You might be asking yourself questions like:
- When is Alzheimer's going to set in?
- Am I going to remember my children or grandchildren?
- Is there anything we can do to stop Alzheimer's or dementia?
In recent years, effective treatments for cognitive decline have been evading researchers and doctors. With the rates of Alzheimer’s disease increasing at an alarming rate, it is essential that an effective solution is developed.
No drug therapies have been successful at treating cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Thankfully, a recent study made an incredible breakthrough.
A clinical trial found a method to improve memory and cognitive function in people at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.
And it is not a drug.
Heather Sandison, ND, and her team found that complex, multimodal, individualized therapy was an effective way to stop and reverse cognitive decline. According to the research abstract, “No monotherapy has substantially altered disease progression, suggesting the disease is multifactorial and may require a multimodal therapeutic approach.”
What is Monotherapy?
Monotherapy refers to using a single medication or therapy to treat a health condition.
Examples of monotherapies include:
- Using a single drug to treat Alzheimer's disease
- Using a single lifestyle change to treat diabetes
- Using a single supplement to treat depression
Monotherapies do work for certain conditions, but not for Alzheimer's disease. Multimodal therapeutic approaches appear to be needed.
What is a Multimodal Therapeutic Approach?
The therapeutic approach used by Dr. Sandison and her team is a multimodal therapy.
Multimodal therapy refers to using more than one therapeutic technique to treat a health condition.
Examples of multimodal therapies include:
- Using more than one medication to treat heart disease
- Using a medication as well as lifestyle changes to treat diabetes
- Using multiple cognitive restructuring techniques to treat mental health challenges
Individualized Multimodal Therapy for Cognitive Decline
Dr. Sandison and her team theorized that a single treatment type may not be enough to reverse cognitive decline. That is why the therapy in this study was individualized for each participant.
The interventional therapy included the following aspects:
- Lifestyle Modifications: specifically increasing exercise with the goal of getting participants to perform regular aerobic and strength training. Social activities were encouraged to increase interaction. Kirtan Kriya meditation for 12 minutes daily was also recommended.
- Dietary Treatments: a ketogenic diet was utilized, and health coaches supported the participant’s transition to a ketogenic diet. A 12-hour fasting period was also included. Certain foods/drinks were eliminated like alcohol, processed foods, and grains.
- Nutritional Supplementation: all participants used a blend of herbs and nutrients, which included omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and more. Doses were adjusted based on nutrient levels on testing as well as tolerance.
- Mitigating Exposure to Environmental Toxins: this included avoidance of certain products and foods, ingestion of binding and chelating agents, lymphatic mobilization, and hepatic detoxification.
- Sleep Treatment: sleep tracking was recommended, and any participant that had an oxygen saturation level below 85% was referred for a sleep medicine evaluation. Supplements were given to participants based on individual needs and responses.
- Hormone Treatments: bio-identical hormones or herbal hormonal support were given to participants with low hormone levels. This was based on lab testing.
- Inflammation Treatments: exercise, dietary supplements, and changes in exposure to toxins were utilized to reduce systemic inflammation.
Modifying each of these based on physical ability and treatment tolerance allowed for each participant to receive a personalized plan.
Cognitive Function Can Be Restored by Individualized Treatment
The individualized therapy caused incredible results. Over 70% of the participants improved their cognitive function.
And it only took 6 months.
To test mental functioning, Dr. Sandison’s team performed the Cambridge Brain Sciences assessments and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. These are both gold standard tests for determining a person’s level of cognitive function. Participants (n= 34) were recruited from the San Diego, CA area.
Participants took the tests before the start of the study and again at 6 months of study participation.
After 6 months of individualized therapy, the test results were astounding. Dr. Sandison and her team found improvements in:
- Memory: 81.8% of participants improved
- Concentration: 54.6% of participants improved
- Reasoning: 63.6% of participants improved
- Overall Cognitive Function: 73.9% of participants improved
These improvements were statistically significant, and the mean change in overall cognition increased by 5.2%.
These populations are expected to see a continual decline, but this therapy shows that people experiencing cognitive decline can reverse it.
So, what is next?
Next Steps for Sandison's Team
The success of this study sets the stage for larger, clinical trials. If these findings are replicated on a bigger scale, they could revolutionize the treatment approach for cognitive decline.
If the next clinical trials are successful, Dr. Sandison and her team may have found a way to give millions of people a chance of a better life.
In the face of decades of limited success in the realm of cognitive decline therapeutics, this study lights a beacon of hope. This unique study demonstrates the importance of taking a holistic, individualized approach to treating cognitive dysfunction.
Videos from Dr. Sandison on DrTalks
Sandison, H., Callan, N. G. L., Rao, R. V., Phipps, J., & Bradley, R. (2023). Observed Improvement in Cognition During a Personalized Lifestyle Intervention in People with Cognitive Decline. Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD, 94(3), 993–1004. Read it here.