This simple supplement may halt Alzheimer's Disease

12 September 2015  |  Editor

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Could a simple supplement halt Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer's patients who took resveratol twice-a-day for a year were found to have fewer dementia biomarkers in their blood and scored better on cognitive tests
Researchers used a technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation which uses a magnetic pulse to trigger electrical charges in the brain cells, forcing them to become more active.
A cheap supplement may halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease after a trial suggested that dementia sufferers stopped deteriorating while taking it.
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound which is found in foods like red grapes, raspberries, dark chocolate and red wine.
Although quantities in food are tiny, high-dose supplements are now available over-the-counter in most health food shops for just a few pounds and purer forms are available from pharmacists.
Scientists enrolled 119 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease in a trial in which they were given 1g of high-grade resveratrol twice a day for 12 months while a control group received a placebo.
Normally, as Alzheimer’s disease progresses the level of a protein called Abeta40 decreases in the blood. But those taking the supplement showed:
  • no alteration suggesting that the disease had stabilised. 
  • They also recorded improved scores on tests which recorded how well they dressed themselves, cooked and used public transport.
Sufferers who were taking the placebo continued to show decreased levels of Abeta40 and did not improve on cognitive tests.
"Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound in red wine, chocolate and peanuts and other foods,” said Dr Scott Turner, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Centre, in Washington.
"Number one, we found that resveratrol was safe in older people with Alzheimer’s Disease and number two, it looked like it may have had a beneficial effect on biomarkers and disease progression.
"We had four cognitive measurement levels and one of them showed a benefit of resveratrol treatment. This was the activities of daily living scale, which are things like cooking and using the phone.

Reveratrol activates valuable proteins

resveratrolThe researchers chose resveratrol because it activates proteins called sirtuins - the same proteins switched on by calorie restriction.
The biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer's is aging, and studies with animals have found that most age-related diseases, including dementia, can be prevented or delayed by cutting calories to two-thirds of the recommended level.
Resveratrol is also released by plants in response to injury or attack and is thought to have antioxidant properties.
The researchers also discovered that the brain volume of participants taking resveratrol had decreased during the trial period, which could be linked to a reduction in brain swelling, they believe.
"We're not sure how to interpret this finding. A similar decrease in brain volume was found with some anti-amyloid immunotherapy trials," added Dr Turner.
The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging and conducted with the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study, began in 2012 and ended in 2014.
"Given safety and positive trends toward effectiveness in this phase 2 study, a larger phase 3 study is warranted to test whether resveratrol is effective for individuals with Alzheimer's -- or at risk for Alzheimer's," Turner says.
Resveratrol and similar compounds are being tested in many age-related disorders including cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders. The new study is the largest, longest and highest dose trial of resveratrol in humans to date.
"It is important to highlight that the level of resveratrol used in this study was far higher than what is found naturally in foods. People who enjoy a glass of red wine or bit of dark chocolate now and again should not take it to mean that they should be increasing their intake of these foods to try and treat Alzheimer's or reduce dementia risk.