Despite the billions and billions of dollars spent by government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and biotechnology wizards to invent and test drugs for Alzheimer’s, 99.6 percent of what they have come up with have been failures, not even making it out of the testing phase. As the Alzheimer’s Association puts it in a bleak reality check, “A genuinely new Alzheimer’s drug has not been approved since 2003, and the currently approved Alzheimer’s medications are ineffective in stopping or slowing the course of the disease.” Although the four available Alzheimer’s drugs “may help lessen symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion,” they do so only “for a limited time.”  


Alzheimer's is one of the USA’s ten most common causes of death for which there is no effective treatment. If we had a drug or other intervention that made people with Alzheimer’s disease even a little better, never mind curing the disease, we’d sing its praises to the rooftops. So would everyone who has a loved one with Alzheimer’s, everyone at risk for Alzheimer’s, and of course everyone who has already developed Alzheimer’s. But no such drug exists. We don’t even have a treatment to keep people with subjective cognitive impairment or mild cognitive impairment (two conditions that often precede Alzheimer’s disease) from going on to develop full-blown Alzheimer’s.


Contrary to the current dogma, therefore, what is referred to as Alzheimer’s disease is a protective response to, specifically, three different processes: inflammation, suboptimal levels of nutrients and other synapse-supporting molecules, and toxic exposures. The realization that Alzheimer’s disease can exist in three distinct subtypes (and often in combinations of these subtypes) has profound implications for the way we evaluate, prevent, and treat it. That discovery also means that we can better treat the subtler forms of cognitive loss, mild cognitive impairment, and subjective cognitive impairment before they progress to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. 


The new medicine of the twenty-first century, Functional Medicine, brings together the best of the modern Western and the traditional Eastern approaches. It combines a knowledge of molecular mechanisms with an understanding of the entire person. This allows us to go beyond simply asking what the problem is to ask why the problem is. Asking WHY makes all the difference in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. No one should die from Alzheimer’s disease. To accomplish this will require that we update our practices from twentieth-century medicine to twenty-first-century medicine and that we be proactive about our own cognitive and general health.


THIS MIND MAP includes the definitions of dementia, pathophysiology of AD, risk factors of AD, the different types of AD, the causes of cognitive decline, appropriate testing for AD, current medical treatments, preventing and reversing the cognitive decline of early AD or its precursors, mild cognitive impairment and subjective cognitive impairment, and for sustaining that improvement. This Mind Map specifically focuses on sensible and proven published studies on natural and very effective treatments for AD.

Created by Sandy Rideout, Functional Medicine Consultant