Boothbay Region Health Center's innovative research program to reverse Alzheimer's and dementia has been running since January 2020 under the auspices of Dr. Allan S. Teel. There are currently 35 local Boothbay area (and seasonal) residents participating. We’re still accepting new participants who are willing to commit to lifestyle changes in order to reduce their risks of cognitive decline.
History of this Program
This program began when a friend, who knew of my concern about inheriting my father's Alzheimer's, gave me a book to read, "The End of Alzheimer's" by Dr. Dale Bredesen. This friend's wife was being successfully treated by Dr. Bredesen.
I gave a copy of the book to my doctor, Chip Teel, whom I thought would be interested, given his passion in helping seniors live long and vibrant lives.
Dr. Teel found that the book described a compelling lifestyle change program with evidence of reducing, and reversing Alzheimer’s disease in now several hundred patients. Chip researched Dr. Bredesen and his team’s work at UCLA, read his many peer-reviewed papers in scores of medical journals and became convinced that Bredesen was on to something. Dr. Teel compared Bredesen’s cases to his own 35 years of experience diagnosing and treating patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s and was intrigued.
According to Dr. Bredesen, “What we call Alzheimer’s disease is actually a protective response to a wide variety of insults to the brain: inflammation, insulin resistance, toxins, infections, and inadequate levels of nutrients, hormones, and growth factors.” Once you figure out which 10 or 12 insults each person has (and each person is unique), you can take corrective measures, which will be different for each patient.
So, Dr. Teel and I decided to recruit other patients concerned about cognitive decline to implement a lower-cost version of the RECODE program described in Dr. Bredesen's book. (Patients who sign up with Bredesen’s group pay over $5,000/year.) Dr. Teel knew that price range would not be affordable to most locals, so he tailored the program so that most of the costs would be covered by Medicare.
Reverse Cognitive Decline Research
The Reduce Cognitive Decline program kicked off in January 2020 with 24 patients. Many were couples, in which one partner had more pronounced cognitive decline. Others were people who had a family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Dr. Teel meets with patients individually at least four times/year and gives a seminar to the entire group monthly (at our Community Center) on the lifestyle changes required–-fasting, high-fat, low carb, natural foods diet, exercise, sleep, and brain games using BrainHQ-–and to discuss what he is learning from his research and from his patients.
Despite the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to continue this program throughout 2020 and have continued in 2021. Of our 24 original participants, we have lost two: one died, and one bowed out. But, since people keep joining, we are now up to 35 active participants.
Everyone involved in health care and wellness knows that the hardest thing of all to do is to convince patients to make needed lifestyle changes. But not only are the study group members cheering one another on, we are committed and curious to see whether these changes will help us stay mentally resilient.
Dr. Bredesen’s research has discovered that there is no one disease that is Alzheimer’s. Instead, there are a constellation of over 32 causative factors for all kinds of dementia and Alzheimer’s. People suffering from symptoms of Subjective Cognitive Impairment, Mild Cognitive Impairment, or more severe symptoms of memory loss or brain function loss typically have between 10 to 20 of these causative factors. But each individual’s cognitive impairment or risk thereof has a unique constellation of these factors. Dr. Bredesen groups them into the following categories (many of us fall into at least 2 of these categories):
- Do you have insulin resistance?
- Do you have inflammation or infections?
- Do you have optimal levels of nutrients, hormones, and growth factors?
- Do you have specific pathogens (e.g. viruses, bacteria, parasites)?
- Are you immunosuppressed?
- Have you had exposure to toxins?
- Have you been exposed to trauma (physical and/or psychological), including brain injuries or strokes?
All of the participants in our program receive a wide series of biological and physiological tests to measure all of these factors. Most of these tests are reimbursed by Medicare, but not all. The expense of additional lab tests are borne by the patients themselves, who agree in advance.
Volumetric Brain Scans
Each participant also has the opportunity to undergo a Volumetric Brain MRI, which is a very little-used test that measures the volume of each functional area of our brains, so we can tell which specific areas have already atrophied, and, thanks to the detailed research that Dr. Teel has undertaken, we can now understand the relationship of the symptoms we have with the functional areas in our brain that have been damaged. We were surprised to discover that there are no neurologists in Maine and very few in New England ordering these really helpful brain scans. Almost everyone in our program has had an initial MRI. Each of us will do a second one after 12 months to see if we have regrown the parts of our brains that were atrophied.
Individual Treatment Protocols
The treatments are highly personalized to each patient’s constellation of factors. All participants try their best to follow the lifestyle guidelines of the program. And, in addition, each one is given a prescription for a different group of vitamins, enzymes, and supplements designed to restore the chemical and hormonal balance in our brains and to give our brain neurons the needed nutrition to regrow.
In 2021, we added weekly support groups to this program. These are done online via Zoom, which works for most of the participants. This gives the group members a chance to ask questions, get recipe ideas, swap exercise tips, get coaching on brain games, and support one another in our journey. We also have subject matter experts who have volunteered to join these weekly support group meetings: a cardiologist, a physiologist, and a nutritionist.
According to Dr. Bredesen’s peer-reviewed, published research, it takes from six to twelve months for cognitive decline to stabilize under this program, and another twelve months for small improvements to occur. Dr. Bredesen has recently published a paper on a successful research study that is remarkably similar to the one we are doing right here in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
Our study group breaks into two distinct groups: one group includes participants who already are suffering from rather severe cognitive decline. The other group is comprised of people who have noted early symptoms and/or who are at hereditary risk (like myself–my Dad had Alzheimer’s and my Mom, Vascular Dementia).
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Not surprisingly, those of us who have mild symptoms have already noticed improvements and stabilization. Our short-term memory is better, we aren’t losing things as often, we are usually able to find the words we’re looking for (within a few minutes), and we are feeling more energetic and have more vitality, as well as hope that we can beat this disease.
Severe Cognitive Impairment
Again, not surprisingly, those with advanced cognitive impairment are showing less progress. But they (and their spouses) report small victories: a person who can now dress himself, the ability to carry on a conversation in someone who hadn’t been able to find words; improvement in moods–feeling hopeful and much less depressed; the ability to interact normally with family members.
For More Information
This research program is still open to new participants. For more information about how to join and what kind of commitment is required, please contact Patty Seybold (207) 633-4368 or email@example.com This innovative Reduce Cognitive Decline program is also seeking financial support, so we can treat patients with no financial resources and also afford the time and effort to document our findings and results.