alzheimer treatment

Alzheimer’s Treatment with Julie Gregory

In this episode of The Functional Medicine Radio Show, Dr. Carri’s special guest Julie Gregory talks about Alzheimer’s treatment, the ApoE4 gene, known as the Alzheimer’s gene, and her personal story.

Julie Gregory is a founder and president of ApoE4.Info, a non-profit focused on learning about the ApoE4 gene. This vibrant online community is disrupting mainstream medicine by connecting carriers of the gene with Alzheimer’s researchers from all over the world to identify strategies to prevent, and even mitigate, symptoms of cognitive decline.  Julie has also partnered with Dr. Dale Bredesen to help write a follow-up to The End of Alzheimer’s which will feature survivor’s stories as well as a detailed handbook for how to apply Dr. Bredesen’s protocol, available March 2020.

Main Questions Asked about Alzheimer’s treatment:

  • Would you mind sharing your personal story and how ApoE4.Info got started?
  • How did you eventually connect with Dr. Dale Bredesen?
  • How long have you been on this journey?
  • What can you tell us about the follow-up book you’re working on with Dr. Bredesen?

Key Points made by Julie Gregory about Alzheimer’s treatment:

  • About seven years ago, I decided to take part in genetic testing with 23andMe. I was having some health issues and thought genetic testing would help me better understand what was going on.  When I got my results, they were pretty benign with one exception – I learned I carry two copies of the ApoE4 gene.
  • I am referring to the apolipoprotein gene. Everyone has two copies but there are three common epsilon versions.
  • The E2 version, which is rare, is considered to be protective against Alzheimer’s.
  • The E3 version, which is very common, is considered neutral with regards to Alzheimer’s.
  • Then there’s the E4 version, which is closely associated with the most common form of Alzheimer’s.
  • ApoE4 heterozygotes, who carry only one copy, comprise between 20-25% of the world’s population, have a mildly increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
  • ApoE4 homozygotes, like me, have a greatly increased risk.
  • The risk, in both cases, is higher for women than for men.
  • Although less than 2% of the population carries two copies of the gene, it’s still a lot of people (75 million in the US alone).
  • Learning that I was at a very high risk for Alzheimer’s was frightening. At that time, I was already exhibiting symptoms of cognitive decline.  I was having frequent senior moments, and I wasn’t a senior.
  • When I finally revealed to my husband that I thought I might be exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s, he blew me away by saying “that explains a lot.”
  • I did online cognitive testing and found I was in the mid-30th percentile for my age group. I’d always learned and remembered easily; I was getting a lot of evidence that something was going on.  I dove into Alzheimer’s.
  • 23andMe provided online forums where people learning of their ApoE4 status could gather. Once we developed a sense of community and support, we dove into the science, we solicited help from everyone we could, and we read and analyze medical research studies and paper.
  • Our primary focus was to find strategies that could protect our brains. As I began to learn about the strategies for treating Alzheimer’s, I began to apply them – tracking and tweaking biomarkers, changing my diet, exercising differently, reducing my stress load, optimizing my sleep, taking targeted supplements and doing online brain training.
  • My world opened up again.
  • I repeated the online cognitive testing and, a year later, I was in the high 90th percentile for my age group.
  • In October 2013, two other ApoE4 carriers and I decided to move away from 23andMe and create our own independent online community – ApoE4.Info. Several months later we attained non-profit status
  • Our primary focus is to learn all we can about the Apoe4 gene and how it impacts health. Our ultimate goal is to try to find strategies that we can use to mitigate all high risk not only for dementia but also for heart disease.
  • I was already several years into my healing journey when I stumbled upon his paper: Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program. He applied a protocol with 10 people exhibiting cognitive decline, and nine of the ten reversed their cognition.
  • When I got to Therapeutic Systems 1.0, a table where he lists the Alzheimer’s treatment strategies that he used to reverse cognitive decline, I had been using the same strategies with similar results. Reading this paper was like an amazing confirmation of my journey.
  • I sent him an email to which he replied the same day. He wanted all the details of my prior symptoms, my prior health issues, and all the strategies I was using.  He was also thrilled with the whole ApoE4.Info project and has been a big supporter of our work ever since.
  • Bredesen has also helped me in my recovery. A few years ago, I felt like I was plateauing, and he was pushing me to get all these biomarkers tested.  I finally relented, mostly to prove to him that he was wrong.
  • The test results were devastating. I learned that I was overwhelmingly positive for chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) that he correlates with the Type 3 Alzheimer’s.  My other numbers too were off the charts.
  • I did additional testing to figure out what might be driving the inflammation, my testing showed I was susceptible to chronic Lyme disease. Further testing showed it wasn’t Lyme disease but a co-related disease which is now completely gone.
  • I’ve been on this healing journey for 7 years since the first genetic testing and I have tremendous hope for the future; not just for me but for anyone willing to use this approach.
  • It’s not a straightforward process, it’s like peeling the layers of an onion. It takes time.  It’s a constant battle.  It takes time to implement all the changes and to see the results.  If you’re not seeing changes, there’s something being missed.
  • One of the hardest aspects, was the idea of using this higher fat diet, particularly as I was already at risk for heart disease with the ApoE4 gene. I have to say, for me, getting into ketosis was one of the most healing things for my body.
  • ApoE4 carriers have a reduced cerebral glucose utilization in the brain that starts as early as age 20 and is exacerbated with the onset of menopause which is when I was having my symptoms.
  • The follow-up to The End of Alzheimer’s is a bit of a struggle as we need to be technical enough to convince the scientists that are reading the book, but the language needs to be simple enough that lay people can understand it.  I’m helping with the handbook portion of the book.  We’re basically going to provide detailed instructions for all his recommended Alzheimer’s treatment strategies – diet, exercise, stress reduction, optimizing sleep – all the many ways you can enhance your cognition.
  • Mainstream medicine has nothing to offer other than two or three medications that might temporarily improve symptoms but do nothing to change the trajectory of the disease process.
  • But it is possible, at ApoE4.Info they can see lots of people that are having success with the protocols. We are a non-profit because we know the obstacles faced by people when they go to visit their physicians
  • The lack of an effective Alzheimer’s treatment is the greatest failure of modern medicine by far. We’re trying to create partnerships between researchers and our community to conduct our own self-organized trials.  We should be making some announcements about these shortly.
  • As a final word, I want to encourage people to give this approach a try. As Dr. Bredesen always points out, you don’t have to be perfect.  I’m far from perfect, but I do enough that I get results that are self-perpetuating.  I want to follow the protocol because it makes me feel so much better.

Resources Mentioned for Alzheimer’s treatment:

Julie Gregory’s website

Book – Reclaim Your Energy and Feel Normal Again

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