As we age, our brain becomes less efficient. Connections become damaged or weakened, making communication throughout the brain less effective. Alzheimer’s is not fully understood, however cognitive decline is believed to be associated with oxidative stress.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Rising Concerns
Alzheimer’s affects millions worldwide. In fact, it is estimated that one out of every eight older Americans, are currently living with Alzheimer’s. Within North America, it is also the sixth most common cause of death. These numbers are on the rise, creating great concern for the growing population.
Alzheimer’s not only affects the individual suffering from the disease, but everyone around them. Loved ones watch as someone affected becomes increasingly worse. Each case is unique, displaying varied symptoms. However, each case tends to experience a downward spiral, as symptoms increase.
There has been vast amounts of research conducted on Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment options. Although there is no cure, various strategies are being implemented to decrease progression. Nootropics have been studied for this purpose, yielding some beneficial results.
The Aging Brain
The brain is so complex, as we are learning new information each day. In terms of cognitive decline and neurological diseases, it’s believed that oxidative stress plays a large role. Certain toxins are also believed to play a role. What exactly is an aging brain?
Oxidative stress has been linked to an aging brain. This is due to free radicals, which have cumulative effects. When there’s an excessive amount of free radicals present, they tend to bind to cells and cause damage.
Alzheimer’s and Nootropic Treatment
Due to the positive effects created by various nootropics, they’ve been extensively studied regarding Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases. It is believed that Alzheimer’s patients have experienced damage to their cholinergic system.
Since many nootropics target the cholinergic system (the racetams family for instance), they work by increasing the amount and efficiency of acetylcholine. It is believed that acetylcholine receptors and the function of acetylcholine itself, are directly correlated with mental decline.
There are a number of nootropics that create encouraging results. Racetams for instance, provide antioxidants effects, reducing free radicals. Other supplements are also effective at reducing overall oxidative stress.
Nootropics that May Aid in Alzheimer’s Treatment
The benefits of Piracetam have varied from case-to-case, however there are plenty of studies that show a correlation does exist. Piracetam has been used in several countries over the years, treating individuals who have dementia or other impairments.
It was first found that Piracetam increases the fluidity of mitochondrial membranes in the brain. It is believed that this may enhance the process of ATP synthesis. Due to these effects, receptor density and transmitter release are positively affected. These mechanisms are generally hindered as we age, due to a loss of membrane fluidity.
This nootropic has long been studied regarding Alzheimer’s research. One study looked at 103 Alzheimer’s patients. It was found that when these participants were treated with Huperzine A, 60% showed improvements in thinking and memory.
Another study focused on 202 patients, which were then divided into two groups. The first group received Huperzine A each day for twelve weeks, while the other group received a placebo. Those who were taking Huperzine A, saw improvements in mood, behaviour, and cognition.
Noopept has been evaluated as a potential treatment aid for Alzheimer’s disease. It was shown to reduce symptoms, possibly even repair some areas. However, it is not a cure at this time, as it only hinders certain symptoms.
Antioxidants and Alzheimer’s Disease
We do not fully understand the cause of Alzheimer’s, as several factors play a role. However, it is believed that free radicals influence brain degeneration. Since free radicals are a main area of concern, antioxidant treatments have been widely explored.
In one study, 74 patients with dementia and 158 healthy control participants were studied. All of the participants were between the age of 65 and 90. The blood-serum of certain antioxidants were looked at, including – vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, lycopene, and coenzyme Q10.
It was found that those with dementia, had significantly lower concentration of vitamin C and beta-carotene in their blood (in comparison to the control group). This study needs to be recreated with a larger pool of participants, however, Alzheimer’s patients should be eating large quantities of fruits and vegetables (kale, strawberries, kiwi, pepper, oranges, etc.)
Fisetin is a flavanoid that is found in strawberries. It is presently being examined as a supplement for boosting memory in Alzheimer’s patients. Although this would be exciting enough, fisetin also produces antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neurotrophic, and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Fisetin promotes cell differentiation, while protecting one’s nerve cells from oxidative stress. Since oxidative death is one of the main factors in Alzheimer’s and other cognitive decline issues, fisetin has shown serious benefits.
L-theanine is found in green tea, effectively crossing the blood-brain barrier. It not only helps boost dopamine, but has neuroprotective properties. When studied in rats, L-theanine was shown to increase neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Neurotrophic factors are proteins in which grow and develops new neurons, while maintaining mature neurons.
This neural antioxidant has been shown to improve blood blow and circulation, enhancing the metabolism of one’s brain. This is only seen in the brain, therefore blood pressure is unaffected. Vinpocetine has the ability to target brain cells that are damaged, which are displaying poor blood flow.
When blood flow is increased, it improves the amount of glucose and oxygen in the brain. This provides the brain with nutrients, while detoxifying old ones. It’s beneficial in terms of improved cognition and short-term memory. It is known to enhance concentration levels and improve memory, while displaying neuroprotective properties.