November 12, 2019
Honourable Tyler Shandro,
Minister of Health
423 Legislature Building
10800-97 Avenue NW
Dear Mr. Shandro
This month’s budget balancing tips are centered around the disorder that we refer to as dementia. This is a very costly problem due to the incredible amount of manpower and facilities needed to care for elderly people with this disorder or to be more correct, group of disorders.
Part of the reason why this problem has gotten so big and has gone on for so long is because the medical establishment claimed to be looking for a single cause for this disorder. They never found a single cause and they never will because there is not a single cause.
However, the good news is that we probably know 6 or 8 or even more things that cause the brain injuries that can lead to the loss of function that we know as dementia. This list would include: head injuries, excess alcohol consumption, illicit drug addiction, interactions of overprescribed prescription drugs, strokes, mini-strokes and other vascular problems, infections of dental origin, some sexually transmitted diseases, and last and the worst by far is improperly treated diabetes. While this is probably not a complete list, it certainly gives us a lot to get started with and it probably gives us enough to correct enough of the problem to balance Alberta’s budget which is really what we want to do. As you look over the list, the “Inconvenient Truth,” is that most of these problems have existed for decades and the medical establishment has provided some form of care for decades. However, they failed to fix the problem and dementia is what eventually happens when you just treat the symptoms and fail to fix the problem.
The good news is that because we know the many causes of the brain damage that eventually results in dementia; we can consider this disorder to be mainly preventable and somewhat treatable.
Lets start with head injuries and concussions. In the days of the early lives of today’s octogenarians head injuries from sports accidents, motor vehicle accidents, work place accidents and others were not taken seriously and were left to heal on their own. Some did, some didn’t. Up until about the 1990’s we did not believe that brain tissue had the ability to repair and regenerate itself. However, now we know that there are very good protocols for healing traumatic brain injuries. The protocol is actually pretty simple. It is based on the idea that if the brain is going to heal and repair you should provide it with the building blocks that it needs to build new nerves. Nerve tissues are lipoproteins so what is needed is a diet rich in fat and proteins.. Since carbohydrates, gluten and dairy damage nerve tissues, they should be kept to a minimum. Other helpful things include magnesium, coenzyme Q 10, DSH and vitamin D.
Next, let’s deal with addictions to alcohol and illicit drugs both of which can cause brain damage. Generally this is a slow , gradual destruction of ones faculties. People with these problems don’t go unnoticed but our attention generally is focused more on the immediate and obvious problems than on the long term end results of years of brain damage. What is done is done and we can’t do much about opportunities missed but still if there is a protocol that works to heal traumatic brain injuries, then a similar protocol may be somewhat helpful in these cases as well. When we deal with addictions in depth in January you will see that there is some real hope for better interventions going forward although that is not too helpful to the ailing octogenarians of today.
Infections of dental origin can cause all sorts of brain injuries many of which can resemble dementia. Over a half century ago, Swedish neurologist Patrick Stortebecker showed how due to a unique vascular arrangement of the central nervous system that acute oral infections can easily spread to the brain causing lots of problems and should always be taken very seriously Sadly, that is not always the case. However, the more common dental infection that is often linked to dementia is just everyday chronic periodontal disease. The mechanism here is that in advanced and poorly controlled periodontal disease a special kind of bacteria known as spirochetes get established. Oral spirochetes are similar to the Treponema Pallidum which causes syphilis. If syphilis is poorly treated, then in the tertiary stage, the bacteria get established in the brain and cause a form of dementia. A study done at the University of Oregon School of Dentistry studied the frontal lobes of 34 cadavers. Sixteen had Alzheimer’s Disease, eighteen had not been diagnosed with AD. Fourteen of the sixteen with AD had oral spirochetes. Only four of the eighteen controls had oral spirochetes. A University of British Columbia study showed how oral spirochetes can cause production and deposition of Beta amylase in vitro. Antibiotics don’t work against spirochetes because of the ability of spirochetes to produce spores. Fortunately, today in Alberta the quality of dental care is very good, in fact it is as good as any place in the world. While we have had very good dental care for many decades now, the octogenarians of today have not always had the full benefit of this knowledge. In fact, some of the spirochetes involved in present day dementia may have been established since long before we knew that they were a serious problem and before we knew how to deal with them.
Vascular problems like strokes and mini-strokes often present themselves with symptoms similar to dementia. Patients with cardiovascular problems have often been under medical care for decades before the strokes finally occur. Unfortunately, the medical establishment have had all their eggs in the , “Cholesterol causes heart disease, “ basket for most of the last half century and have largely ignored a lot of good research pointing to products of inflammation,( creactive protein, cytokines, and interleukins) and side effects of insulin resistance as more important causes of vascular problems.
Still, the single largest cause and the best known cause of dementia is poorly treated diabetes. This has become so widely accepted that many have come to call Alzheimer’s Disease Type III diabetes. The mechanism of this progression from the onset of Type II diabetes to the development of the masses of nerve tissues that are plugged full of beta amylase is not entirely worked out yet but here are a few ideas. First, diabetes leads to high blood glucose which causes vascular damage which can cause the strokes and mini-strokes discussed in the previous paragraph. Also, diabetes leads to insulin resistance that leads to fat storage and the fat cells produce the inflammatory products mentioned earlier, C-reactive protein, cytokines, interleukins, etc. Also, insulin resistance leads to a closing off of cells from the blood supply which leads to cell death. Glucose can react with the protein in nerves in a process called glycation which can lead to clumps of useless protein in the nerve cells. This glycation of proteins gets worse when gluten gets involved. Another mechanism contributing to cognitive decline is that high blood sugar leads to an immediate and serious depletion of many neurotransmitters including serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA, and dopamine. This depletion in turn leads to depletions of things like Vitamin B complex and magnesium that are required to replace these neurotransmitters. ( These same mechanisms of high blood sugar causing neurotransmitter depletion are also a major cause of depression and addictions that we will see later.) While this is not a complete explanation of the Diabetes-Alzheimer’s connection it is enough to establish that poorly treated Type II diabetes as the main cause of dementia/Alzheimer’s.
There are other causes that should be considered as well. Prescription drug interactions have caused cognitive impairment in the past. Inflammation is a known cause of serious neurological damage and it will be discussed in depth at a later date.
One other major contributor to cognitive decline is lack of exercise. In fact, next to elimination of sugar and other carbs, increasing exercise is just about the best thing a person can do to prevent and even reverse cognitive decline. Increased cerebral blood flow and oxygenation is a good thing to be sure but exercise does much more than that. It controls inflammation, increases insulin sensitivity, influences better blood sugar control, expands the size of memory centers and increases levels of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) which aides in repair and regrowth of neurons.
Other helpful things include promoting good sound sleep and decreasing stress.
So, after identifying and discussing all of these known causes of cognitive decline and dementia, the big question is, “What is the practical application of this knowledge and how can it be used immediately to balance the Alberta Budget?”
The practical use of this knowledge basically falls into two categories. First, the standard of care when treating any of the known causes of dementia must become that: ”Whenever the known causes of dementia are treated that the caregiver must first attempt to treat the cause of the disease rather than treating the symptoms and as a central part of the informed consent for treatment of these disorders the patient must be informed of the definitive cause of their disorder and how it must be treated and also the patient must be informed that dementia/Alzheimer’s can be the eventual outcome if the problem is not properly treated.”
The second practical application of this knowledge is that whenever possible institutions or for that matter , family members treating patients with dementia/Alzheimer’s should do everything possible to address the known causes of the problem. To this end, doing everything possible to reduce pharmaceuticals is a good start although the medical establishment and Big Pharma won’t like this. Good exercise programs, good sleeping environments, and a low stress environment will also be helpful. However, what will make the biggest difference is good diet. Government institutions today use the Canada Food Guide which is just a political abomination created by bureaucrats to appease lobby groups. It contains way too many carbs, grains and dairy products and it has no place in healthcare. We know that sugar and refined carbohydrates cause serious neurological damage and we know that fats and proteins are essential for neurological repair. Therefore, it is just good common sense that the best diet should be very low in carbs and high in good fats and protein. Also, supplementation with vitamin B complex, C, D, magnesium, zinc, selenium, DSH and Coenzyme Q 10 would also be helpful. A study in Kansas used a keto diet for just three months and they had better improvements in cognitive ability than any anti-Beta Amylase drug on the market. In the end, a lot of what we call dementia is really just malnutrition.
Again, thank you for reading my letter. Hopefully this can be a budget balancer and hopefully it can improve a lot of lives. Again, no reply to this letter is expected although an acknowledgement that it was received would be good. Next month, just in time for Christmas, our topic will be the evils of sugar. How is that for a humbug?
Dr. Murray Hennings, DMD