Medicine had nothing to offer my father and millions of other Americans. I set out to find out why.
This quote stuck out to me: But as Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman once said, “Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”
I’ve seen his warning play out time and time again in the medical field, where experts cannot say certain things for fear of upsetting the powers that be.
We need more scientists like Begley that are willing to go against their peers and suggest that some of their ideas are wrong.
I’m re-reading The Power Broker, Caro’s biography of Robert Moses. It’s a timely reminder of the catastrophic power of bureaucratic manipulation to divert funding, blight reputations, and destroy careers. The public is left bewildered, wondering why things don’t work. Whether or not there’s a single Robert Moses-like (or Anthony Fauci-like) figure at the top of the Alzheimer’s research ecology, the symptoms are clear. The myriads of researchers arrange themselves like iron filings around a magnet, eager for funding and promotion, and terrified of retaliation. And the public is bewildered, mourning their sick loved ones, wondering why the Alzheimer’s research process doesn’t work.
My father died of Alzheimer's and my sister was diagnosed with Early Onset at the age of 58 in October 2021. This article points out very well how the medical, pharma, and governmental agencies are captured and are driven by money and not results. Billions of dollars wasted. I encourage anyone with concerns about themselves or their loved ones to check out Dr. Dale Bredesen's work. The End of Alzheimer's Program. His method involves addressing the many underlying issues that may be causing the brain to decline. Diet, toxins, gut health, parasites, and many others. Not a magic bullet like a drug, but there are people seeing improvements. I'm praying my sister is one of them.
Dale Bredesen, a neurologist/researcher in San Diego published a book about 5 years ago called The End of Alzheimer's in which he details how he has been able to CURE Alzheimer's in close to 80% of cases in his clinic, using his individually-tailored approach. He has only been able to do studies on small cohorts of patients because no one is willing to fund his apparently successful approach since it doesn't involve the use of potentially blockbuster drugs. Instead involves the application of fairly simple, not terribly expensive, but highly effective treatments. He has observed that Alzheimer's is mostly caused by inflammation, lack of what he calls "trophic factors" such as hormone, vitamin and other biochemical deficiencies, and toxic exposures. His approach involves reducing inflammation, replacement of deficient trophic factors, and detoxification. He present numerous cases in his book of fairly advanced cases of Alzheimer's which recovered fully under his care. There are still about 20% of patients he is unable to help with his methods, so there is clearly something missing from his analysis, but his results of approximately 80% recovery are astounding to me. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Alzheimer's disease or dementia more generally.
Apparently we didn’t watch the recent destruction of effective treatments for another disease in spite of hundreds of positive peer reviewed studies and entire regions that saw swift resolution to huge numbers of cases.
Nothing new at all.
By that time even the dullest wit could see that every news outlet was using the same phrases, reporting on the same stories, at the same instant , and were clearly being told what to report. Had been for years. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to find it here in this other medical story, it’s been going on in that field for decades.
The word disinformation is such a specialized piece of jargon… how did it suddenly spring into everyday vocabulary?
Anytime you hear every voice shouting the same thing you’re either at a concert or you’re being drowned in propaganda. And when there’s a big story yet every voice falls silent, you’re being drowned in it again. ahh dintcha know??
The stubbornness of humans and science is confounding. Take todays insane fealty to battery powered vehicles. The list of production problems and availability is well known. Rare metals needed means massive new strip mining. China controlling a plethora of those rare earth metals. Nobody wants to recycle those batteries. It is expensive, hard and unclean. With the Avg. price of an EV at $62,000 most people cannot afford to buy or lease. When the lease ends, who is going to buy a used one that may need battery replacement. Winter weather degrades efficiency. Who is going to pay for chargers at 100 unit apartment buildings? You going to have wires laying on ground from each apartment? CA told EV owners not charge their vehicles during peak hours. It will take years to switch over to alll EV’s of our 275 million registered transportation fleet. Fuel Cells are better tech, you could use existing infrastructure. Why don’t we? Because the activist nuts that have taken over the Democrat Party hate anything to do with the oil and gas industry. We could have switched our transportation fleet to natural gas decades ago. Reduced CO2 by 30%. But Nooooo. It supported the oil and gas industry. It is the same thinking that got us the worst environmental program that costs us billions. Ethanol. It is a horrible idea, terrible for the planet, makes too much CO2....and makes midwest farmers millionaires. It is as stupid as is the shockingly dumb cabal that runs Alz. funding.
Our medical system is divided into two parallel paths. Allopathic (largely drug based) medicine gets all the money and prestige while integrative/functional medicine—which can be more effective in chronic illness—is a second class citizen, generally not covered by insurance or given the respect and support it deserves. I say this as someone who has lived 30 years with a major neurological disease. Both branches are important but functional approaches that actually work are never tried due to market forces that attempt to prioritize not what actually lowers symptoms and benefits patients but what makes a profit. Given the vast amount of suffering involved, this non-patient based approach is appalling. I have noticed that many doctors when faced with brain issues in their own families immediately embrace integrative medicine.
My optometrist told me that she has patients who were advised to treat their glaucoma but did not. Then they come back to her asking if laser surgery will fix their vision - and she has to point out that the nerve is already damaged - and no amount of focus will fix it.
Is it possible that Alzheimers is the same problem? We're trying to fix something that is already beyond repair?
There might be 10 researchers out there who are as brilliant at seeing thru the fog as Mr. Feynman. Maybe we should be concentrating on finding and supporting them - outside the normal (and failing) organizations?
Perhaps funding like Common Sense?
(And before anyone jumps on me - I lost my father to Alzheimers - I'm glad I only had one father to lose, I couldn't do it twice.)
Dear Ms. Silberner - Thank you for this excellent article. Obviously there is an ingrained case of group-think that is limiting the creative and rewarding the narrative. Have a blessed day. KenMc
There can be no cure for advanced Alzheimer's disease, since the brain's limited reconstruction facilities cannot replace large swaths of destroyed neurons with new cells with all right characteristics and connections.
Prevention - not cure or drugs - is the only way to thwart this and numerous other neurodegenerative diseases. The word "drug" appears 34 times in this article, but there is no mention of nutrition or vitamin D.
Without proper vitamin D3 supplementation, such as (for 70kg 154lb body weight without obesity, 0.125 mg 5000 IU a day) or recent extensive UV-B skin exposure, most people only have 5 to 25 ng/mL circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), which is made in the liver from vitamin D3. The immune system needs 50ng/mL (125nmol/L) or more to function properly - to mount full innate and adaptive responses to cancerous cells, viruses, bacteria and fungi and to reduce the chance of self-destructive inflammatory responses.
Inflammation is an indiscriminate cell destroying immune response primarily intended for multicellular parasites, such as intestinal worms (helminths). Our ancestors were ubiquitously infected with helminths, which long ago evolved compounds which downmodulate our inflammatory responses. The human immune response today evolved over millions of years to be overly-strong to counter this downmodulation. Now we are all dewormed, our inflammatory responses are overly-strong, with some people having genetic variations which gives them especially strong and inappropriately triggered inflammatory responses which cause psoriasis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and the various neurodegenerative diseases.
Low 25(OH)D levels make this inflammation much worse. Many elderly people have only 1/10th to 1/4 of the circulating (25(OH)D) their immune systems need. So excessive, dysregulated, self-destructive, inflammation is easily triggered.
Annweiler et al. 2013 https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad121432 report a strong relation between low 25(OH)D levels and AD. Only some of this would be due to the disease depleting the levels or reducing the person's exposure to UV-B light.
Ogura et al. 2021 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405650221000617 report that compared to healthy controls, whose 25(OH)D levels averaged 26.8ng/mL, Parkinson's disease (PD) sufferers averaged 13.4ng/mL and Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) sufferers averaged just 10.5ng/mL. PD, MSA and Dementia with Lewy Bodies are closely related, since they involve different patterns of misfolding of the alpha-synuclein protein (Ayers et al. 2022 https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.2113489119).
AD's etiology is somewhat different from that of PD/MSA/DLB but the details are unimportant from the point of view of prevention. What is needed is stronger innate and adaptive immune responses and especially better regulation of the inflammatory responses which are prone to being excessive, due to our lack of helminths. This requires at least 50ng/mL 25(OH)D, which most people can only be attain with proper vitamin D3 supplementation at levels above what most MDs think is required.
You won't read about this from drug companies, or from most professional researchers - whose goal must be to induce the funding of further research - since prevention (to a very large extent) of these neurodegenerative diseases involves better nutrition, especially regarding vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium and probably boron. To many MDs and PhDs, this sounds impossibly simple, but it is true. This knowledge and approach to prevention leaves no place for them as highly qualified, highly paid, gladiators against an enormous and poorly understood threat to health.
The scarily large "5000 IU" vitamin D a day requirement for average weight adults people is a gram every 22 years. Pharma grade vitamin D3 costs about USD$2.50 a gram ex-factory. There's no need for drugs or more research.
Please read the research articles concerning vitamin D, the immune system, sepsis, influenza, COVID-19, autoimmune diseases, autism and neurodegeneration cited at: https://vitamindstopscovid.info/00-evi/ .
As a Biological Psychologist, I find this a very interesting story… However, it could be written about any number of scientific problems. In that sense, it's almost tautological. There are three factors at work here. First, people are people. We all live in a subjective world of belief systems that are very hard to change. If anyone — including a scientist — has a particular worldview (for instance, amyloid plaques are the sole cause of Alzheimer's), it is extremely difficult to change that point of view. Sometimes it's impossible. Think about the people who believe that they are actually reptiles:
Second, the concluding comments are correct. It's probably not the case that Alzheimer's has one single cause because, quite frankly, Alzheimer's is a diagnostic category which includes a variety of neurological conditions whose symptomatologies are similar (https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/how-alzheimers-disease-diagnosed). Most people don't realize that. It's analogous to the category "autism", or any of the other dementias. So, there probably will never be a single, "cure" for the condition.
Finally, as the article points out, it's impossible to affect one aspect of brain function (for instance, synaptic stability), without affecting other aspects of brain function. There will always be biological trade-offs. That's just a fact of the way biology works. In fact, based on what I know from studying brains for a few decades, it may be the case that the most we can hope for is easing the cognitive decline as aging progresses.
In any event, thank you for a very enjoyable and informative read, Frederick
Both my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather died of the disease about the time the name, Alzheimer’s entered the vernacular. One during the 1970s and the other in 1980s. I thought they’d have a cure for my parents for sure! My mother died of it 7 years ago. I’m really hoping at 50, it’s not too late for me. Thank you for this thoughtful article.
In a lifetime of academics, the best lesson I ever learned was skepticism. The more history you read, the more you encounter experts at the highest level who were spectacularly wrong. And often accompanying the ignorance of life in the Ivory Towers is arrogance - they don't know, and they won't listen. An always-lethal pair. Question everything and never back down.
Alzheimer’s is a very sad Illness (not that there is a good one), and my grandmother died from it as well. As much good as the FDA has done, they still have blood on their hands from drugs like Viox (that killed as many as the Vietnam war and then some), opioids and a plethora of other money making medications that cause more harm than good.
This post reminds me of the fertile mind of Gary Larson who produced a Far Side cartoon depicting a gang of "ruffian astronomers" or some such who monopolized all the time spent looking through the only available telescope by intimidating milder comrades. Humor succeeds when the essence is true and people who are trying to research this disease can obviously relate to what was humorously portrayed. Human nature doesn't change just because the people in question are highly educated and esteemed professionals (probably it is magnified). The power recently wielded by Frances and Fauci as the NIH and NAIAD heads because of their bottleneck control of almost ALL research funding is ruinous; both to their character and our institutions. This juxtaposes the brilliance of the checks and balances once capable of keeping our governance on track, and parallels what happens when those systems get short-circuited.
My dad was diagnosed at age 52 back in 2000. At the time, I worked on Capitol Hill and immediately went to work researching and meeting with Pharma lobbyists and scientists who for sure would have something. We tried everything for my sweet dad, and after a few trials and a few useless drugs, decided to go off all of everything because the side effects were not worth it. He, and millions of others like him who have suffered the same end, are our heroes.
As I am a few years away from 50, I now worry I will meet the same end. We normal people don't understand why there hasn't been the promised breakthroughs, and attacking the hypothesized plaques from 22 years ago haven't made a difference.
Yet after the past three years where we have all publicly witnessed the complexities and biases within the FDA and government, and after we critical thinkers have been forced to look to alternative preventions and health treatments for this cold virus that has rocked our world, this article hints at the greater complexities of what the ALZ community faces. Could it be so sinister? It can't be ! A 'cabal' of researchers and big Pharma would sentence millions more to the same end by their refusal to entertain and promote any other ideas? Sounds too horrible to be true.
I wonder if ALZ is a type 3 diabetes. If inflammation has a larger role. Maybe we have been looking all a long down the wrong highway. Maybe it's more the body at its core: inflammation and trauma and how the body heals itself.
Thank you for this piece. If Big Pharma won't address, I suppose just like everything else these days, it will be up to us to find our own solutions and work together outside the mainstream. Sigh.
In honor of my dad.
Schizophrenia is another illness in which the "breakthrough" medications are variations of the same belief that manipulation of neurotransmitters will manage the illness. Nothing much has happened in 50 years and the side effects can be horrific.