Introduction

Even if your parents or family members have suffered from conditions of brain aging, early cognitive decline, or dementia, it is possible to change your brain’s aging story as we understand more about these processes. Until recently, the prevention and even reversal of early cognitive decline and early dementia was not yet a reality. Recent research has shown that the complex brain changes that contribute to cognitive impairment and dementia can be prevented in many cases. Even if the process is already underway in the brain, it can be slowed down and even stopped, even if you are genetically predisposed to developing dementia.

Brain systems, including the endocannabinoid system, brain immune system elements that contribute to turning off brain inflammation, brain-protective chemicals such as BDNF, and many more metabolic and neural networking factors, can now be targeted and treated.

The most well-known and most feared of these brain aging diseases and causes of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. However, in addition to Alzheimer’s, various other related diseases lead to the final common result of dementia.

In 2015 estimates for the UK revealed that almost 1 million people have dementia or 1 in every 14 people age 65 or over.

New research is showing that the earlier interventions start with a multi-system approach, the better. These interventions can slow down and even potentially reverse dementia, focusing on changeable lifestyle and metabolic factors with specific nutritional interventions, supplements, and nutraceuticals, functional medicine testing, altering stress hormone levels, inflammation markers, and even insulin regulation in the brain.

The more of these approaches which are combined and tailored to the person, their genes, their risk factors and their resilience profile, the more effective the results.

The Resilience Medicine Approach to Cognitive Decline, Dementia and Brain Aging

The RM approach includes interventions in each of the 3 pillars of the RM system and then tracking how you feel using the R score, your symptoms and how you are doing in the 4 Key Resilience Skills areas of stress+anxiety, mood, cognition and mental clarity and energy so you can live your best life, slow down and even reverse signs of brain aging and cognitive decline using an evidence-based integrative and personalised approach.

Diet
Supplements + Medications
Cannabinoids
mind-body
BioData + Tracking

Diet

  • The Resilience Medicine diet principles
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Low GI foods as the majority of the diet and cutting out fast carbs
  • High in foods such as :
    • Garlic and alliums (allicin)-are high in sulfur, are neuroprotective, and help support detoxification in the liver.
    • Red grapes, red wine, tomatoes – all contain resveratrol-powerful antioxidants and neuroprotectants against toxins, stress, and premature brain cell death.
    • Green Tea – Epigallocatechin Gallate-may decrease the risk of Parkinson’s by 8%. Drinking just one cup of green each day is a powerful antioxidant and neuroprotectant against brain plaques like beta-amyloid seen in brains with dementia.
    • Hot Peppers – Capsaicin may help in brain cell-to-cell communication and antioxidant protection/neuroprotectant
    • Including high flavonoid foods, which cross the blood-brain barrier and may aid in brain protection and anti-aging effects
    • A wide variety of culinary spices and herbs–add to meals/in cooking/diet to contribute to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential that is neuroprotective for the brain and helps protect against environmental toxins, pollutants, and stress-induced damage.

Supplements + Medications

The following nutraceuticals and botanical supplements may help including:

  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Bacopa monnieri (often used with ashwagandha for stress support)
  • Huperzine – from Chinese club moss is a natural cholinesterase inhibitor
  • High absorb curcumin with black pepper- curcumin, from the turmeric plant as well as whole root turmeric extract is a neuroprotectant, anti-inflammatory and may help with prevention of degenerative brain disorders due to its ability to enhance brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates growth and survival of healthy neurons (brain cells).
  • Liposomal glutathione
  • Medicinal mushrooms for stress and cognition support
  • High Absorption Magnesium
  • Vitamin D 3
  • CBD and cannabinoids
  • Alpha pinene may help with memory, specifically
  • Beta caryophyllene-anti-inflammatory
  • Herbal sleep support if sleep is disrupted (see sleep)
  • High potency Omega 3s from fish or krill

Cannabinoids

  • Cannabinoids have great potential in brain ageing diseases. CBD, THC, terpenes such as alpha pinene are the most known for their neuroprotective benefits so far.
  • In patients with dementia, medical cannabis under medical guidance from a doctor can help with behavioral symptom, mood, sleep and quality of life as well as pain relief.

Mind-body

Practices that decrease the total body and brain stress load and reduce pro-inflammatory chemicals and aid blood sugar control and balance are all beneficial. Some other simple ones include:

  • Moving meditations like gentle yoga and tai chi. Good for busy minds and for cognitive or brain thinking flexibility.
  • therapeutic psychedelics (where legal) is an emerging area of research for diseases of brain ageing and for cognitive performance

Apps, BioData and Habit Tracking:

You can track mental clarity and cognition as well as mood, two areas most commonly affected by premature brain ageing and cognitive decline disorders in the app, see any interventions such as a new medication, cannabinoid or supplement you have started to see how they are helping over time.

The Resilience Medicine App is a free tool developed over a decade of practice treating patients using a quality of life approach. It can help you track how you feel in the four main Resilience Medicine areas of mood, stress/anxiety, energy, and mental clarity.

Dr Dani’s summary:

Novel therapeutics such as cannabinoid and psychedelic compounds as well as interventions such as ketogenic diets and comprehensive functional medicine an supplements regimen personalized to the person, their genes and symptoms is the future of brain ageing medicine. Dr. Dale Bredeson at UCLA is showing that even established dementia is potentially reversible using an intensive integrative approach but this is not a one sized fits all method or single drug pill. All of these things work together to help protect the brain and slow down brain degenerative processes and this is my approach to these conditions to enhance quality of life with a personalized approach.