(Manuel Garcia Aguilar) In previous articles, we discussed the importance of brain waves in modern technological developments. It even seemed like something “magical” to me, when I was writing about how through brain waves and AI scientists can “see” what you are seeing in real-time. Now, even more progress is being made thanks to neuroscientists at MIT.
(Best Folk Medicine) With the increase in Alzheimer’s sufferers and estimates saying that the numbers will triple in the US by the year of 2050, there is a need of finding beneficial treatments for it. According to a recent study, marijuana may be the crucial element to such therapy.
Adopting a Mediterranean-style diet may help protect your brain as you age, numerous studies show. 
At least 2 studies concluded that people’s risk for dementia declined when they ate the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurogenerative Delay (MIND) diet. Think of it as sort of a hybrid of the original Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, both of which were designed to improve heart health.
The DASH diet consists of foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol, and is intended to lower blood pressure. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts. It’s quite similar to the Mediterranean diet, but the Mediterranean diet is a bit more specific, in that butter is replaced with olive oil and other healthful fats, and herbs are substituted for salt.
In one of those studies, seniors who strictly followed the MIND diet were found to have a 35% reduced risk of age-related decline in brain function. Even those who followed the diet loosely reduced their risk of brain decline between 18-24%. Those who closely followed the diet were also 35% less likely to perform poorly on tests of brain function.
Dean Hartley, director of science initiatives for the Alzheimer’s Association, said:
“We’ve always been saying that a healthy heart is a healthy brain. Your brain uses 20% of your cardiac output for getting oxygen and glucose. If you don’t have a good pump, that saps the brain of a lot of things needed to sustain its normal function.”
Adhering to a heart-healthy diet also helps protect blood vessels inside the brain, thereby reducing the risk of mini-strokes and other health problems.
The second study used data from the U.S.-based Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, which involved about 7,000 women over the course of 10 years. That research revealed that women who closely followed the MIND diet were 34% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to the women who didn’t follow the diet at all.
However, like the first study, following the MIND diet even part of the time still provided much-needed health perks. Women who moderately followed the eating pattern were between 21-24% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, the researchers found.
Even More Evidence
An additional 2 studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association meeting revealed the following:
In a Swedish study of more than 2,000 participants, those who ate a healthy diet called the ‘Nordic Prudent Dietary Pattern’ for 6 years had better brain health. People who follow the Nordic diet limit their consumption of root vegetables, refined grains, butter and margarine, as well as sugary foods and fruit juice.
Researchers from Columbia University found that people who consumed a diet that encourages inflammation had a difficult time playing brain games. A smaller total volume of gray matter was observed in MRI scans of those participants’ brains. What is an inflammatory diet? High intake of cholesterol, sugar, vegetable oil, fried foods, saturated fats, and more.
It’s important to note that all of the studies were observational, so they can’t prove cause-and-effect. In order to do that, scientifically controlled experiments are necessary. 
A lead study author Claire McEvoy, of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine, said:
“I think the studies, taken together, suggest a role for high quality dietary patterns in brain health and for protection against cognitive decline during aging. Diet is modifiable, and in light of these studies we need clinical trials to test whether changing diet can improve or maintain cognition.”
Keith Fargo, Alzheimer’s Association Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach, was encouraged by the size and depth of the research. He said:
“Although the idea that a healthy diet can help protect against cognitive decline as we age is not new, the size and length of these 4 studies demonstrate how powerful good dietary practices may be in maintaining brain health and function.”
A shrub known as Yerba santa, dubbed “holy herb” in Spanish, appears to show promise in treating Alzheimer’s disease, researchers say. It has the potential to reduce brain swelling in people with dementia. 
Native to California,, Yerba santa has long been used as a treatment for fevers, headaches, and other common ailments. But researchers at Salk’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory in San Diego believe it could be used to treat much more serious health problems. In fact, millions of dementia patients stand to benefit from the natural treatment, they claim.
According to lab manager Professor Dave Schubert and his team, a molecule in the shrub called sterubin – the plant’s most active component – could be the key to transforming millions of lives.
The team found that sterubin had a significant anti-inflammatory effect on brain cells called microglia, which are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, among other ailments.
The researchers further found that sterubin effectively removes iron. This is an important discovery, as iron contributes to nerve cell damage in the aging brain and neurodegenerative diseases.
Sterubin was found to effectively reduce numerous causes of cell death in the nerve cells.
Senior scientist Pamela Maher said:
“This is a compound that was known but ignored. Not only did sterubin turn out to be much more effective than the other flavonoids in Yerba santa in our assays, it appears as good as, if not better than, other flavonoids we have studied.”
The lab’s next step is to test sterubin in an animal model of Alzheimer’s to determine its medicinal qualities and toxicity level in animals. Once that’s completed, the researchers hope to test the compound in humans. However, in order to do so, it will be necessary to use sterubin derived from plants grown under standardized, controlled conditions, Maher said.
It has also been reported that researchers may opt to use a synthetic derivative of sterubin rather than use sterubin drawn from the plant. 
Maher said: 
“Alzheimer’s disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. And because age is a major risk factor, researchers are looking at ways to counter aging’s effects on the brain.
Our identification of sterubin as a potent neuroprotective component of a native California plant called Yerba santa is a promising step in that direction.”
(Humans are Free) Clumps of harmful proteins that interfere with brain functions have been partially cleared in mice using nothing but light and sound. Research led by MIT has found strobe lights and a low pitched buzz can be used to recreate brain waves lost in the disease, which in turn remove plaque and improve cognitive function in mice engineered to display Alzheimer’s-like behaviour.
(Science Alert) An active compound in marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been found to promote the removal of toxic clumps of amyloid beta protein in the brain, which are thought to kickstart the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
(Dr. Mark Hyman) Q: “My parents are getting older and I want to do everything I can to help them prevent Alzheimer’s, considering both my grandmothers had this disease, and I am worried about getting it too.” writes this week’s house call. “What can we do to prevent dementia?”