and Reduce Your Chance of Getting it Closer to Zero!
by Shihan Mary Bolz
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Doctoral Fellow, FBU
If a person goes online to WEB M.D. this disease is listed as incurable. This prognosis is not only inaccurate, but it is very egotistical of conventional medicine to announce it as such. The standard of care in mainstream medicine in this country would make it SEEM SO. But, as we all at one time or another have likely experienced, they are at times proven wrong. But why is it usually the case that it just seems to progress, getting worse and worse, until the end, so that the medical establishment comes to view it as incurable? Could it be that standard medical practice is taking the incorrect approach as far as prevention and treatment? Allopathic (Western) medicineâ€™s methods can not altogether be condemned, though, in fact much of it is reasonable, and even much of their approach in the care through the kindness and capability of many of the caregivers in Alzheimer’s treatment centers can be applauded and greatly appreciated. Some of the people who work in those centers and those especially that directly care for the Alzheimer’s patients are compassionate, wonderful, and amazing human beings. The support these people give the patients and their families is indeed awesome. But letâ€™s take a look further before we give the prognosis of incurable and lets especially recognize that this is a preventable disease and NOT one of the diseases of ‘a normal progression of aging.’ There are medical doctors in Japan not accepting this prognosis and are studying other avenues rather than just looking for pharmaceuticals to save them. Some of the major risk factors according to WEB M.D. are 1) AGE and 2) family history. This is very bleak, since we all age. Age being a risk factor sounds ludicrous. How, in general, is the diagnosis made in allopathic medicine? First of all, a thorough workup with laboratory tests, chest x-rays, EKGâ€™s, etc. are done to rule out other diseases. CT scans can show certain changes that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease in its later stages. These changes include a reduction in the size of the brain, referred to as atrophy. Electroencephalography (EEG) is a medical technique that measures brain function by analyzing the electrical activity generated by the brain. This activity is measured through special electrodes applied to the scalp. EEG can be used repeatedly in adults and children with virtually no risks and is helpful in diagnosing seizures, which may be contributing to behavioral changes seen in the patient. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a test that produces very clear pictures, or images, of the human body without using X-rays. Instead, MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce these images. MRI is beneficial in ruling out other causes of dementia, such as tumors or strokes. It also may help to show the structural and functional changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropsychological tests accompany a comprehensive interview with the patient and may include tests to assess memory, language, the ability to plan and reason, and the ability to modify behavior, as well as assessments of personality and emotional stability. Neuropsychological testing also can help the doctor and family better understand the effect of a disorder on a patient’s everyday functioning. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) Scan are less common on patients as routine testing and are more often used in research. There is much research going on in the United States on Alzheimerâ€™s disease. What I am going to discuss in this article in particular, is information on the disease coming from Japan. This information is from modern high-tech medical departments of major universities in Japan using scientific studies and trials. The information I am providing you here was obtained from a quiz program on NHK (Nippon Honso Kaisha–Japan Broadcasting Company). NHK is one of the leading broadcasting companies in Japan, is owned and operated by the federal government and is paid for by the citizens of the country. Everyone who owns a television (or two or more) pays a monthly fee to support it. The company sends out hired employees to go door to door to collect the money. There is no commercial paid-for advertising on this channel. The quiz show that comes on once a week is entitled, ‘Science for Everybody’ and the quiz panelists are prominent entertainers such as actors or singers. All of the questions asked are multiple choice and the guests have to take a shot at the correct answer. The correct answers are what was found through scientific research in actual clinical trials and empirical evidence with patients at the universities. In their studies, these doctors found preventive methods of varying degrees with one method resulting in 3 times less likely to get Alzheimer’s, another method with 6 times less likely to get it, and another method with 8 times less likely to get it. What are these? This is what the show was about. Before that the show gave a background of the causes, as far as what is going on in the brain, in a simple manner, using manga (comics, anime). It is well known that people with Alzheimer’s have an atrophy, or shrinking of certain areas of the brain that are affected, as shown on CAT scans. Here is what was found by Dr. Yamaguchi at Gunma University Medical School, Gunma Prefecture, Japan. Gunma University has a part of Albert Einsteinâ€™s (1879-1955) preserved brain, which they obtained 20 years ago. A sample of Einsteinâ€™s brain shows a powdery-appearing substance on the brain as well as atrophy. The powdery-like substance is beta protein which builds up and seems to increase in number, on the surface of the dura mater (outer covering of the brain). This beta protein buildup is believed to cause the neurons to die. The beta protein seems to be a byproduct or waste refuse from neuron activity; their activity creates a kind of dust or â€œtrash.â€ Normally, enzymes come by and clean up the â€œgarbage,â€ the betaprotein deposits. As people get older, these enzymes slow down. How long does it take after the buildup of beta protein and the death of neurons before a person would start developing symptoms of forgetfulness and even progressing to Alzheimerâ€™s? It take at least 20 years! But, does it develop because of the aging process? Mr. Einstein didnâ€™t have the disease. And, many other people that have the same beta protein buildup and the same amount of atrophy of the brain do not have Alzheimerâ€™s either. This was discovered by Dr. Yamaguchi and others at Gunma University. One of the first live examples, outside of Einstein was found by Dr. Sugai. Dr. Sugai was looking at the brain scan of an 83-year-old man which he thought very clearly was that of an Alzheimer patientâ€™s brain because of the atrophy and the beta protein dust. The memory center of this brain was very small compared to a younger, healthier brain. However, in actual life, this 83-year-old male is very active with no signs of any kind of memory loss or any type of Alzheimer symptoms. He took the neuropsychological, cognitive, and memory tests that are also given when determining a diagnosis for this disease, and this man passed with flying colors. This man is also very interesting to have a conversation with; displaying knowledge, â€œspunk,â€ and a vibrancy in his voice and actions. Dr. Sugai decided to look into what this person is doing everyday. This man does push ups, crunches, cycles and lightly jogs. He is very active in following, analyzing, and investing in the stock market. He researches the activities and financial strategies of the companies, using sophisticated methods on the computer. He has an active family life and a normal circle of friends that he communicates with daily. After finding this case, this prompted many other doctors at Gunma University and other universities to start studying the brain scans and investigating the lives of the real people who belonged to these scans. Same thing—brains that are atrophied and that look like typical Alzheimer brains were not Alzheimer victims at all. These were healthy, active, bright, and sharp people. These doctors also began doing experiments on mice. Mice with the same beta protein dust and atrophied areas of the brain were tested. In one group, the mice were put in cages alone and isolated. Another group was also isolated but given the exercise wheel. The group that were alone and without exercise developed symptoms of confusion and dementia. Those that exercised were normal, even though the brain scans were similar in both groups. Could it be that the brain, like the body, ages and atrophies some, and that is normal; but it is not the atrophy that causes the Alzheimerâ€™s disease? It appears so. Another type of testing was done. Thermogram studies were done on people who were watching TV only and those who were interactive in conversations with other people. The thermogram of the brains of the people watching TV showed mostly blue areas. The thermogram displayed the brains of the people in active conversation and more analytically challenging communication as mostly red areas on the thermogram. Various doctors, including Dr. Fujii at Sendai University has been studying this phenomena and running such research about Alzheimerâ€™s disease for 45 years. The collective final data they come up with is as follows: 1. To reduce the chance of getting Alzheimerâ€™s by 38%, exercise two times per week for 20 minutes, lightly with minimal sweat. 2. To reduce the chances of getting Alzheimer’s by 66%, add to the exercise regime active communication. This factor, communication, seemed to be one of the most important factors. All the people who had Alzheimerâ€™s disease seem to be very lonely people and had lost good communication with family and friends. Their conclusion is that conversation is very important! 3. To reduce the chances of getting this disease by 89% (meaning the chance of getting it is 11%), eat a good diet, mostly the traditional diet like the Japanese had: rice, vegetables, fish, seaweeds, miso soup, etc.; not the modern Western-type diet high in fat, salt, and sugar. Obese people were discovered to be much more likely to develop Alzheimerâ€™s. 4. To reduce your chances even further, you may want to take Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine. It is Dr. Fujii (an allopathic M.D.), who is using this medicine, not Western pharmaceuticals, to treat Alzheimerâ€™s, in addition to incorporating the three previously listed factors. Patients taking a certain herbal formula named â€œYoku Kan Sanâ€ in Japanese, in Mandarin it is pronounced â€œYi Gan San,â€ meaning â€œRestrain the Liverâ€ in English, improved on this formula; smiling more often, communicating more often and some even go back to their families. Why restrain the liver? Because this formula treats emotions, such as anger, frustration, unfulfilled desires and other forms of liver Qi stagnation according to Traditional Chinese Medicine pattern diagnosis. The fact that this formula works so well tells us how much emotions and other factors are involved. It is not a â€œmalfunctionâ€ of the brain. As in any Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnostic and treatment method, each individual needs to be evaluated by a professional practitioner to get an herbal formula that matches their condition whether used for prevention of the disease, or for treating the existing disease. If you practice all of the above four methods, your chances of getting Alzheimerâ€™s disease is likely very low, despite of any family history. Martial arts provides exceptional exercise for the brain-body connection, such as kobudou and karate, which I teach, or tai ji which can be found at the McBride Senior Center here in Vacaville; there are also many other activities that are good. Learn what kind of foods and way of eating really is sensible, donâ€™t just follow fads. In conclusion, finding out about these studies makes us very hopeful. The thing is, donâ€™t sit and wait; DO these things! They work!