Ongoing research is being performed to investigate the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. A form of dementia, Alzheimer’s robs its victims slowly of their cognitive powers, intelligence, memories and eventually, their lives. Scientists don’t know for sure how Alzheimer’s develops; however, emerging evidence points to genetics, lifestyle factors and environmental toxins. Early onset Alzheimer’s disease is often thought to be influenced by genetics, giving the individual little control over causative factors. However, in the case of the more common form of Alzheimer’s disease, it may be possible for individuals to have some control over its prevention.
The formation of amyloid plaques in the brain is a feature of Alzheimer’s disease. The plaques consist of a peptide, or string of amino acids, whose normal activity protects against oxidative stress, which contributes to the presence of cell-damaging free radicals. Additionally, they regulate cholesterol transport and have an anti-microbial action on the inflammatory agents in the plaques. Research suggests that a soluble form of amyloid beta, the main component of the plaques, may be a causative agent for Alzheimer’s disease.
Several forms of treatment are indicated as possible interventions against the development of plaques, including strengthening the individual’s immune system to trigger antibodies to prevent or clear plaques from the brain. An important discovery was made indicating that the sleep hormone melatonin inhibits the formation of plaques and may be effective in the prevention of Alzheimer’s; however, melatonin, cannot reverse the formation of existing plaques, so is not useful in the treatment of the disease. Experiments in mice suggest that when adequate amounts of melatonin are available earlier in life, it may act to prevent Alzheimer’s from developing.
Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone, which regulates sleep and the circadian rhythm of amyloid beta. People need enough melatonin to produce proper sleep, and excessive wakefulness reduces the amount of the hormone, leading the way to possible plaque development. Animal experiments also indicate the ability of melatonin to correct slight elevations in cholesterol, another risk factor for plaque development.
Excessive periods of sleep deprivation for any reason can affect the circadian rhythm of amyloid beta by reducing the amount of melatonin produced in the brain, hypothetically causing the buildup of amyloid beta plaque formation. Recent findings have shown that chronic loss of sleep is connected to early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
It is possible to supply melatonin through supplementation; however, it is also possible to create additional quantities of melatonin without drugs or supplements. The pineal gland produces melatonin, whose quantities are stimulated by the presence of darkness and inhibited in the light. Sleeping in a very dark room with no ambient light can stimulate melatonin production. Creating the conditions of twilight for several hours before going to bed will also set the stage for melatonin production and assist in falling asleep. Keep lights dim and remove all sources of light from the bedroom.
Additional information on the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease can be found in this article: Homeopathic treatment slows progression of Alzheimer’s disease
Sources for this article include:
National Center for Biotechnology Information: Possible causes of Alzheimer’s disease – amyloid fragments, free radicals, and calcium homeostasis