Blood test to detect early Alzheimer’s

There is no doubt that the fear of Alzheimer’s is a major concern for many people as they get older. A natural, and normal slight memory loss – those ‘senior moments’ – can develop into a genuine worry about the development of the disease. Part of the problem has been that there is no foolproof way of predicting who is vulnerable, no reliable test, or how to spot the disease in its very early stages. Now there may be a way to overcome this through a simple blood test.

Scientists at a California biotech company claim that the test is about 90% accurate and can detect Alzheimer’s two to six years before the onset of symptoms. It works through the signals the brain sends to the body’s immune system. These signals pick up changes in the blood proteins in the brain and certain changes in these proteins produce a pattern that’s characteristic to Alzheimer’s.

There are more than 100 different types of dementia, but Alzheimer’s is the most common and there are 417,000 people diagnosed with it in the UK – predicted to rise to over 1 million by 2025.

It will be a few years before this test is available for use by doctors and it would be offered first to those whose close relatives have the disease and who may be suffering memory loss themselves. It may be that you don’t want to know in advance if you have this disease, but an early diagnosis can give patients a chance to make changes to their diet and exercise more in an effort of slowing or staving off chances of getting the disease.

Despite common belief, heredity only plays a part in getting Alzheimer’s and it is more likely that environmental factors play a part – particularly the role of free radicals as they cause damage to cells. Cortisol, a stress hormone, may be a causative factor, particularly when produced over a long period of time and good nutrition and herbal treatments prevent and fight damage from free radicals and reduce stress. Toxins such as aluminium and mercury are also a problem since they can be taken into the body and remain in the tissues.

There are a number of things you can do to help lessen some of the symptoms, or the onset, of Alzheimer’s and these are just a few of the supplements that have been found to be effective in many cases:

*Ginkgo biloba for improved memory, attention and mood.

*B vitamins, particularly Folate, which is important to the nervous system and helps eliminate homocysteine from the blood.

*Vitamin E is a scavenger of free radicals and it is fat soluble so readily enters the brain where it is thought to slow cell damage.

*The Ayuredic herb Ashwagandha (Withania somniferum) is used as a brain tonic and reduces stress hormone levels

*DHEA is a hormone used to help cognitive function

*Chlorella aids in the detoxification process of heavy metals.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and dementia, visit

How stress affects learning

November 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies

Stress has the ability to affect so many areas of our lives.Our ability to function healthily, make effective decisions, avoid illness and infections are all dependent on how well we cope with stress.

It’s the role of cortisol, what we know as the “stress hormone” that is crucial in coping with stress. It now appears that high levels of cortisol in the body over a prolonged period of time impairs learning ability in young people, and also weakens memory as we get older.

It has already been demonstrated in 2001, by researchers at Utrecht University in Holland, that high stress levels can delay puberty, and a new study links stress and memory impairment. McGill University in the US has a well-respected Human Stress Research Laboratory and they have been running a study for the past six years to test memory on both young people and older adults. What they found was that long-term stress creates sustained high levels of cortisol, and when cortisol levels remain high with only brief periods of relaxation, the resulting chronic stress may help trigger problems with memory as well as possible blood sugar imbalance, high blood pressure, and decreased bone density and muscle tissue.

Cortisol is not a villain, when it is released in small amounts, it can sometimes briefly improve memory, and even supply a burst of energy, but it is prolonged exposure to stress that causes the real problem. Approximately 30% of elderly people start to produce too much cortisol and the first way to deal with it is to find out what is causing the major stress. Obviously there are many factors, but a key one turns out to be environmental. Those who do not have adequate social support, are far more likely to have cortisol levels than those who don’t.

Obviously there is no one, quick answer, and it can’t be solved by taking a pill. It’s about lifestyle examination, good nutrition, exercise and an enjoyable social life. Get those in balance and you are a long way forward on resolving your stress issues. If you need to find out why, you will find helpful tips and suggestions in my book ‘How To Cope Successfully With Stress’ and you will find more information about it at