Treating Dementia with Niacin

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Dementia and Alzheimer's disease

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Dementia.  Alzheimer’s.  Say it slowly, let it sink in.  These diseases are becoming more and more prevalent but not less serious.  Treating dementia can be daunting.  

 

Dementia affects around 5 million people in the U.S.  It is debilitating and progressive and causes a lot of heartache.  Drug therapies are moderately effective at best and they work only for a limited time.  Medical treatment of AD uses acetylcholinesterase inhibitors or n-methyl-d-aspartic acid glutamate receptor antagonists. 

 

Cognitive declines of Alzheimer’s disease are associated with the cerebral cortex.  Senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and granulovascular degeneration of neurons. 

 

But here’s the thing, you can know all this, but it just doesn’t change the reality if you are someone who is trying to care for a family member who has this disease.  It is hard.  It doesn’t matter what is going on biologically to you, it only counts if what you try helps.  

 

I hope you find this article helpful if you are someone in this position.  My father has diabetes and has dementia and I love him so much.  I just want him to feel better.  The research on treating dementia with naicin is very impressive.  

 

I have not listed every study or every case history of individual people who were helped using niacin, but I read enough to make me want to report on it.  I think it is signifant.  

 

Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease:

  • Old age
  • Family history
  • Apo lipoprotein E epsilon 4 genotype (easily tested by blood)
  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Vascular factors
  • Dyslipidemia (elevation of LDL)
  • Hypertension
  • Inflammatory markers
  • Down syndrome

 

These are Factors I include as well:

  • Vitamin/mineral deficiencies
  • Environmental exposures to petrochemicals
  • Heavy metal exposure – Aluminum, mercury, lead
  • Statin drugs

 

Here is something worthwhile in noting when considering vitamin therapy.  There is a condition called pellagra, which is the disease we name for niacin deficiency.  The symptoms for niacin deficiency are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dermatitis
  • DEMENTIA
  • Death – after a long period of being niacin deficient. 

 

The mental signs of niacin deficiency often occur in the absence of any skin or GI symptoms.  Many people also chronically use lomotil or hydrocortisone on their skin, suppressing any physical signs of what may be a case of niacin deficiency.  It is always wise to look at what things you are taking to see the bigger picture of what may be going on. 

 

In a study of 3,718 people followed over 5.5 years, those with niacin deficiency experienced cognitive decline.  Those who ate foods with niacin in them had a slower rate of cognitive decline.  People who consumed 22.4 mg/day of niacin had an 80% statistically significant reduction in risk. 

 

 Mental symptoms of Niacin Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Vertigo
  • Burning sensations in body
  • Numbness
  • Palpitation
  • Nervousness
  • Feeling of unrest and anxiety
  • Headache
  • Forgetfulness
  • Apprehension
  • Distractibility

 

Alzheimer’s Symptoms

  • Aggression
  • Apathy
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

 

What causes niacin deficiency?

Inadequate amount of niacin in diet – socioeconomic, preference, lack of knowledge

Interference with digestion – vomiting, neurological disorder, oral diseases – loss of teeth, sore mouth

Interference with biosynthesis – antibiotics and inadequate intake of tryptophan

Interference with absorption – low stomach acid and use of acid blockers, diarrhea, removal of bowel, and mineral oil

Interference with utilization – alcohol, hypothyroid, diabetes.  Sulphonamides exert anti-vitamin effect

Interference with storage – any condition causing impairment of liver function

Increased excretion or loss – hyperthyroidism, pregnancy and lactation, high carbohydrate diets, insulin, thyroid medication, caffeine, amphetamines

Increased nutritive requirements – urinary loss in renal disease or diabetes, lactation, burns, severe blood loss

 

There are many studies involving treating dementia with niacin.  This is almost like “niacin through the ages”

 

The first I’m going to mention dates back to 1941.  29 patients with stuporous or active psychoses of unknown origin were given niacin.  None had physical signs of niacin deficiency or pellagra.  28 patients recovered. 

 

  • 8 people were given 75 – 4500 mg niacin daily by mouth
  • 21 were given 100 – 900 mg by I.V. 

They reported that within 4 days their patients started having rapid and impressive improvements. 

The authors of this study, Sydenstricker and Cleckley concluded all patients be given a therapeutic trial of niacin to rule out ‘avitaminosis’ as a cause. 

 

 

In 1952 they found the earlier niacin therapy was started, the better the outcome.  People over the age of 65 had less favorable outcomes than those under 65.  The study only uses doses of 300 mg. 

 

Orthomolecular medicine dictates otherwise.

 

In 1962, Abram Hoffer gave 3,000 mg of niacin a day and discovered very high doses reversed dementia.  He got 12 out of 15 elderly people over the age of 65 to respond favorably. 

 

How does Niacin Treat Dementia?

  • Modifies lipid levels
  • Increases blood flow to the brain
  • Niacin is a crucial co-factor in metabolism – replacement resolves a deficiency here
  • Stimulates cellular metabolism
  • Reduces neuron damage and increases axonal density by decreasing the expression of amyloid precursor protein

 

Niacin does this in your Body (You’ll literally want to hug it)

  • Increases dopamine
  • Replenishes antioxidants
  • Protects the brain from oxidation

 

The most recent clinical trial, 2004, 10 mg of niacin was given to people in a 6 month study.  After the study, those on the Niacin had no evidence of further cognitive deterioration. 

Right now, research involved niacin has been at a standstill.  But, we have a lot of data on the use of niacin.  Hoffer kept write ups on individuals helped by niacin.  

 

Treating Dementia with Niacin:

  • Start out with 300 mg niacin (nicotinic acid) 2 times a day – 30 minutes before food
  • Increase every 3 days if you are not seeing improvement
  • Many Orthomolecular doctors go up to 3,000 mg but many studies went to 10,000 mg

 

Make sure you get liver function tests as you go.

 

  • Coconut oil – 3 tablespoons per day
  • Phosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylserine
  • Methylcobalamin – IM injections every other day – It must be methylcobalamin – not cyanocobalamin!
  • Gota Kola
  • Ginkgo
  • Vitamin C 1000 mg 3 times a day
  • Amino acids – lysine, proline, carnitine
  • CoQ10 – at least 100 mg taken with food

 

Thank you as always to the wonderful physicians who do amazing work carrying on the scientific method not for fame, glory, or money, but for knowledge and the care for others.  I got this from this wonderful article:

Prousky, Jonathan ND, MSc: Treating Dementia with Vitamin B3 and NADH.  Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 2011; vol 26: 163-174.

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