What if Alzheimer’s disease could be reversed? That’s the stunning hope spawned by new research from the University of Miami and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The study shows that a dietary supplement consisting of an extract of aloe vera and other key nutrients seems to improve cognitive and immune functioning in those with dementia. Lead researcher John E. Lewis, associate professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, recently visited Newsmax Health to discuss his surprising findings.
“It was actually like bringing the people back to life,” said Dr. Lewis.
Although the study was small and involved only 34 patients, it is significant because it is among the first to provide evidence that nutrition changes may be able to reverse brain deterioration in the 4.5 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
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In addition, it looked at people with moderate-to-severe forms of the disease, a population that is often considered beyond help and is usually excluded from such studies, Dr. Lewis said.
“As you can imagine we had caregivers of folks who were just knocking down the door to get in the study. If you know anything about this disease you know the level of desperation people have trying to help their loved ones,” Dr. Lewis added.
After nine months of taking the commercially available aloe supplement, 46 percent of the patients scored significantly higher on a standard cognition test. What’s more, key biologic markers also improved; patients averaged a 377-percent increase in stem cell production, evidence that the brain was being repaired. Immune functioning also improved.
In some people, the cognitive improvements went well beyond what standardized testing could measure:
- A woman in her 90s who could not walk or speak when the trial began was able to leave her wheelchair between the third and sixth month, and speak. “Now she wasn’t talking like you and I are having a conversation, but the fact is that this lady went from mute to actually saying something. She actually called one of our clinical coordinators by name,” said Dr. Lewis.
- A successful architect was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago and was no longer able to clearly remember his son. After being in the study the architect was able to recall details about his son as well as other topics. “One of the things that his wife said was that she felt she got her husband back, so that was very powerful to her,” said Dr. Lewis.
- A man who was his wife’s caregiver had a daily routine where they would go out to lunch together. “After she had been in the study about three months, she told him how to get from where they were located to get back home.” It was stunning for an advanced Alzheimer’s patient to suddenly be able to give traffic directions.
Although there are other ingredients in the supplement, Dr. Lewis said he believed the effectiveness may hinge on aloe vera, a substance that is usually applied as a gel to burns but is “very powerful” when ingested in a concentrated form.
The study participants were given four teaspoons of aloe polymannose multinutrient complex (APMC) daily for a year. The research team used a commercially available powdered form of APMC of the supplement called “New Eden,” which is available from www.wellnessquest.org, but there are other products that contain the same APMC formulation. The powder, which most people believe has a mild flavor, is mixed in foods or drinks.
Dr. Lewis has no financial ties with the company, he said.
In the future, Dr. Lewis and his colleagues hope to get funding to do larger studies on nutritional therapies for Alzheimer's, perhaps in combination with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Dr. Lewis was so impressed with the aloe supplement findings that he told his 73-year-old mother to use it, even though she does not have Alzheimer’s. “With this supplement there is nothing to lose,” he said. “We haven’t found any toxicity associated with it.”
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To view the study abstract, click here.
Lewis, J. E., McDaniel, H. R., Agronin, M., Loewenstein, D., Riveros, J., Mestre, R., Martinez, M., Colina, N., Abreu, D., Konefal, J., Woolger, J. M., & Ali, K. H. (2013).
The effect of an aloe polymannose multinutrient complex on cognitive and immune functioning in Alzheimer’s disease. The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 33, 393-406, DOI 10.3233/JAD-2012-121381.
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