Can This “Bathing Cap” Help Treat Alzheimer’s?
Despite its widespread and growing prevalence and billions of research dollars, Alzheimer’s disease interventions are still quite limited. A new wearable device using electromagnetic energy shows great promise in not only stopping but also reversing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and it’s poised to affect increasing numbers of people in the next decades. Right now, 5.7 million in the U.S. are afflicted, but experts predict that that number will increase to more than 14 million by 2060.
The financial burden of Alzheimer’s is significant, with the U.S. alone spending $290 billion annually to care for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients. Plenty of research into cures and palliatives has been done and continues to be done. The National Institutes of Health alone plans to spend $2.3 billion more on Alzheimer’s research in 2019―with arguably little in terms of cures to show for the billions already spent.
Pharmaceutical Approaches Haven’t Worked
According to the authors of a new study just published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease, pharmaceutical interventions to date have assumed that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by insoluble plaques and tangles that get formed by several types of faulty brain proteins. The theory has been that breaking up these plaques and tangles should restore functioning, or at least prevent further cognitive deterioration. The authors contend, however, that current drugs are failing because they target protein structures residing outside of and in between neurons, instead of entering neurons where the problems originate.
Instead, treatments need to penetrate neurons, because that’s where the proteins first form and aggregate and clump into soluble toxic “oligomers” that cause “neuronal dysfunction and death. Drugs won’t do the job because current pharmaceuticals are unable to pass through the blood-brain barrier or penetrate into neurons.
The New Alzheimer’s “Bathing Cap”
Several studies have been investigating whether electromagnetic waves might be more effective. The Arizona-based company “NeuroEm Therapeutics” designed a wearable head device (the MemorEMTM) that sends electromagnetic pulses to the patient’s brain and seems to reverse some of the damage done by Alzheimer’s disease (AD). (1)
The initial study involved eight subjects over the age of 63, all of whom had mild or moderate Alzheimer’s disease at the outset. After several months of wearing the device for one-hour periods twice daily, 87 percent of the subjects showed significant improvement in cognition. (2)
The MemorEM is designed for home use. It looks like a bathing cap with a strap that goes under the chin. The cap has eight flat emitters inside, and a small control panel/battery box that the patient straps to the upper arm. It works by delivering electromagnetic pulses to the brain through the cap. These pulses ostensibly break up proteins called amyloid-β (Aβ) and phospho-tau (tau) inside neurons, which, as described above, scientists now believe aggregate into toxic “oligomers” that kill neurons in the brain. Patients can move about while the machine operates.
The device uses transcranial electromagnetic treatment (TEMT) to send perpendicular electric and magnetic waves away from an emitter. In previous studies on mice, TEMT effectively disrupted both Aβ and tau oligomers within neurons.
Amazing Results of Preliminary Studies Wearing the TEMT Device
On the good news front, no behavioral or physical side effects or new brain abnormalities were noted as a result of using the MemorEM. Researchers administered brain scans to ensure that treatments hadn’t triggered tumors or brain bleeding (microhemorrhages), which they hadn’t, and they also hadn’t activated suicidal urges, which was a concern.
All eight subjects showed improvements in word recall at the end of the two-month trial period, and they maintained those improvements two weeks later. Seven of the eight improved significantly (up four points) on a general cognition test. Without treatment, such patients typically would show a decline of over four points, which means they fared four times better than they would have without the treatments. The scientists attribute the improvements to the device’s success in “disaggregation of toxic Aβ and tau oligomers, along with associated mitochondrial enhancement.”
According to the CEO Gary Arendash of NeuroEm Therapeutics, “Perhaps the best indication that the two months of treatment was having a clinically-important effect on the AD patients in this study is that none of the patients wanted to return their head device to the University of South Florida/Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute after the study was completed.”
That said, the device still has a distance to go before making it to the shelves. A new clinical trial involving 150 Alzheimer’s patients will commence this year. (3)
Other Approaches to Tackling Alzheimer’s Disease
Not all scientists believe that plaque or even oligomers are the culprits causing Alzheimer’s. At least one interesting theory is that Alzheimer’s develops “when the blood-brain barrier breaks down, [causing a] leak along a vascular tube [that] allows many blood-derived toxic products, cells, and pathogens to enter the brain and damage circuits involved in memory and learning.”
But no matter which of these approaches accurately describes Alzheimer’s mechanics, the steps you can take to prevent the disease remain the same.
Jon Barron’s Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Tips
While it’s hopeful that researchers are finding interventions that may eventually help to keep Alzheimer’s disease in check, preventing the disease altogether is a far surer bet. Here are Jon Barron’s supplement suggestions:
- Supplement with an L-carnosine-based formula
- Supplement with full-spectrum antioxidants
Also, make sure your diet includes adequate amounts of:
- Vitamin C
- Full complex natural vitamin E, with tocotrienols
- Omega-3 fatty acids