Dementia Is Reversible in 20% of Cases Due To Nutritional Deficiency

Senior lady with reversible dementiaDementia is reversible in 20% of all elderly dementia patients due to hidden nutritional deficiencies, according to Dr. Melvyn Werbach.

As we report here on, there are actually quite a number of different causes of reversible dementia, and proper diagnoses is imperative to ensure you or your loved one is not left to wither away when, in fact, the dementia may be reversible if correctly diagnosed.

Where reversible dementia is concerned, Dr Werbach’s specialty is primarily in the areas of malnutrition or malabsorption of nutrients, which leads to nutritional deficiencies.

Dr Werbach is not alone. Other medical or nutritional specialists agree that nutritional deficiencies should be thoroughly explored in anyone with symptoms of dementia –  including symptoms which are consistent with Alzheimer’s Disease.

If the dementia is the result of an underlying malabsorption or malnutrition problem, or nutritional deficiency, it can typically be reversed assuming it has not been left undiagnosed for so long that permanent damage has occurred.

Experts believe that there are significant numbers of misdiagnosed dementia patients who are thought to have Alzheimers or other incurable dementia and are needlessly deteriorating away in nursing homes because of undiagnosed, treatable nutritional deficiencies or malabsorption problems..

Anyone suffering from dementia, or symptoms of dementia, should:

  • Get tested for toxic metals. If they are high, have the toxic metal removed following the proper protocol by a medical professional.
  • Get tested for adequate stomach acid and absorption.
  • Eat a diet rich in unrefined whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, essential fatty acids, and low in saturated fats.
  • Get tested  for folic acid deficiencies. Low levels of folic acid can cause poor concentration, memory failure and disorientation. Dr Werbach knows of at least one case of a woman whose severe dementia was reversed by folic acid supplementation.
  • Get tested for any and all nutritional deficiencies through a full medical work-up with laboratory tests.
  • Check specifically whether you need niacin (B3) supplementation. Dementia is a classic symptom of niacin deficiency. Dementia caused by deficiency of this nutrient can even be reversed, says Dr Werbach, if niacin levels are normalized.
  • Get checked for zinc deficiency, which can cause a loss of nerve cells in the brain.

In AD, enzymes in the brain that are dependent on thiamine may be reduced. Supplementation can prevent further deterioration.

Dr. Werbach also recommends the following:

  • Consider vitamin B12 injections. B12 deficiency is long associated with confusion, memory impairment and other neurological problems. Although a recent study concludes that AD victims had no obvious B12 deficiency, other studies show that supplementation with B12 can be effective even in patients with normal apparent B12 levels and no symptoms of deficiency. This may be either because the tests are inadequate or that absorption in the brain is somehow inadequate. In one 73-year-old woman with beginning AD symptoms but no signs or symptoms of B12 deficiency, intermuscular injections cleared all AD symptoms in three months.
  • In several double-blind trials the herb ginkgo biloba increased blood flow to the brain and improved brain waves, helping people with dementia to think more clearly.
  • In preliminary studies, the amino acid tryptophan and the cholinergic nutrients such as phosphatidyl choline have shown some preliminary encouraging results, but longer trials are necessary.

Dr. Werbach received his medical education at Columbia College, Tufts University School of Medicine, the National Institute of Mental Health and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  Early in his psychiatry career, Doctor Werbach became intrigued with exploring treatment alternatives for poorly responding  patients who failed to receive adequate relief from appropriate specialty care.

He began to research this area and his interest in nutritional medicine led to the publication of Nutritional Influences on Illness, a book summarizing the scientific literature in nutritional medicine which has gotten worldwide recognition, followed by Nutritional Influences on Mental Illness, winner of the Book of the Year Award from the International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (UK) and a third book, Botanical Influences on Illness. He has transposed his knowledge of nutritional medicine into a book written for general audiences, Healing Through Nutrition.

His monthly column on nutritional medicine appears in the International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (UK) and is reprinted in the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients (US) and the Australian Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. He lectures internationally and is a popular guest on many radio shows.

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