November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. President Ronald Reagan made designated November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in 1983. At that time there were less than two million people with the disease – today that number has increased to $5 more than million and is expected to grow to 16 million in 2050 (1).
Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia and accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Contrary to what many believe, Alzheimer's is not an inevitable part of aging although the most significant risk factor is increasing age. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment (2). Individuals can live with Alzheimer's anywhere from four to twenty years, depending on their age and other health conditions (3).
Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
Part of Alzheimer’s disease awareness is recognizing the onset of symptoms before it progresses. Early diagnosis nd intervention methods are improving dramatically, and treatment options and sources of support can improve quality of life. The symptoms may include (4):
- Memory Loss – People may forget things they’ve learned as well as dates and events.
- Trouble Solving Problems – You may notice a loved one taking longer to complete tasks they used to be able to do much quicker.
- Confusion with Time– People with Alzheimer’s often lose track of time. They also forget where they are and even how they got there.
- Unable to Retrace Steps – As people forget dates and events, they may also start to misplace objects. Although they would be able to retrace their steps in the past and find what they were looking for, that is no longer the case.
- Mood & Personality Changes – Because of the changes that are going on in their mind, shifts in mood and depression are common.
Oleocanthal as a Cure?
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are drugs that can slow down its progression. Researchers continue to look for new treatments as they search for a cure. This research also includes non-drug treatment options. One area of research that has been getting a lot of attention is in examining the impact of oleocanthal, a naturally occurring compound found only in pure, premium quality olive oil, on Alzheimer’s. Several studies have shown that this compound has had a positive impact against Alzheimer’s in mice that express the disease, such as enhancing the blood-brain barrier function and reducing the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neuroinflammation, all of which are hallmarks of Alzheimer's (5). Using these therapeutics to strengthen the blood-brain barrier is key to helping those with neurodegenerative disorders. Researchers are optimistic that oleocanthal can minimize the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, a stage that precedes Alzheimer's and help reduce the progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's. If research continues to get funded, positive results will hopefully lead to clinical trials and a new therapy for treating Alzheimer's diseases and related disorders.
Here are some additional sources on the effects of oleocanthal on Alzheimer's: