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Category: Science


Reversing Alzheimer’s with Probiotics?

For the past several years I have been writing and lecturing about the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and changes in the gut bacteria. We know, for example, that Alzheimer’s is an inflammatory condition. As well, we know that changes in gut bacteria enhance inflammation. So it seemed quite reasonable to assume that damage to, and loss of diversity in, gut bacteria could hasten brain degeneration so characteristic of Alzheimer’s. We know, for example, that loss of diversity in the gut organisms as measured in populations in various countries correlates to increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in those countries, as was so eloquently described in my Empowering Neurologist interview with Dr. Molly Fox.

But now it’s time to look at this issue in another way. Let’s ask this question: if damage to the gut bacteria relates to worsening of the brain in Alzheimer’s disease, could restoration of good bacteria using probiotics help the situation? This is quite a question when you think about the implications of what this might mean for the more than 40 million individuals around the world suffering from a disease for which there is no treatment.

Well, we may well have an answer to this compelling question, and it’s really great news. Researchers publishing in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience took a group of elderly Alzheimer’s patients and studied them for 12 weeks. Each participant underwent a test for mental function called the mini-mental status exam (MMSE), a standardized cognitive assessment used worldwide. They also underwent a blood test called highly sensitive c-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a powerful marker of inflammation. These tests were then repeated after 12 weeks.

The study evaluated 60 patients, half of whom were given a placebo, while the other half consumed a probiotic milk containing the probiotic species, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus fermentum.

The results of the study were stunning. The placebo group showed an increase in hs-CRP, the inflammation marker, by an impressive 45%. In the group taking the probiotic, on the other hand, hs-CRP didn’t just stay the same, but actually declined by 18% indicating a dramatic reduction in inflammation.

But here’s the truly exciting news. Over the 12 weeks, the patients in the placebo continued to decline mentally, as you might expect. Their MMSE score dropped from 8.47 to 8.00, a substantial reduction. But the group on the inflammation reducing probiotics actually demonstrated, not a decline in brain function, but an actual improvement, with their MMSE scores going from 8.67 up to 10.57, and that’s a huge improvement. Again, not only was their mental decline stopped in it’s tracks, these individuals regained brain function!

The message here is that inflammation is directly determined by the health and diversity of our gut bacteria, and this has major implications in terms of brain health, function, and disease resistance. Recognizing that inflammation is the mechanism underlying not just Alzheimer’s disease, but Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and even cancer means that the findings in this report may have wide implications.

One thing’s for sure. We’ve got to do everything we can to support the health and diversity of our gut bacteria, and we’ve got to absolutely stay on top of this emerging research that may finally open the door to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Marvi

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b367ace415a7c89987e06b8adc559f2f96013e1904e7bc42e2a4d2ae728f9c9d.png Tis is a very interesting topic, and the observation are parallel with chinese medicine attempts to understand degenerative neurological disease, as well as an increased intestinal heat due to constitutional who became too bad eating habits.
    In fact what was said is in line with the postulated therapy from the school of the earth, was to absorb the excessive heat and disperse it through the ways physiologically predisposed to that in the body, such as the Large Intestine, the Lungs and the Skin, through the “Sistemic Detoxication” method: LI15, SJ%, SI4, KI9 and LV5. (Matsumoto)

    • Janet

      Thank you again, Dr. Perlmutter, for sharing such vital information. Janet

  • Marvi
  • Marvi
  • John Galt

    Does Vitamin C play a role in brain health?

  • Frank_Plut

    Dr. Perlmutter is there any more research that has shown promise with improving Autism by improving gut bacteria?

  • Paget

    Dear John Galt,
    After searching for you for years, are you finally here? Sorry I can’t answer your question about Vitamin C for brain health, but assume any antioxidant would be beneficial. Dagne sends her love.

  • Dennis Durost

    Dr. Perlmutter: An article in NATUALHEALTH365 cites a 2016 study associating Aalzheimer’s disease with older folks who currently take or have a history of taking Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). Since PPIs adversely affect the gut biome, it all appears related. The article can be viewed at naturalhealth365.com/heartburn-gerd2041.html

  • Lisa Muzic

    That is outstanding information!

  • BJ

    Can you recommend a Probiotic that offers these strains?
    Thanks, BJ

  • Just last week I had my 2nd round to remove melanoma. Will probiotics help?

    • eileenfb1948 .

      Google lchf diet for melanoma, as it helps so many other things. Good luck with it.

  • Ella Read

    Excellent information! The only thing I would add is that early-stage Alzheimer’s has been shown to respond remarkably well to a new approach (which includes probiotics) called the MEND protocol (metabolic enhancement for neuro-degeneration) by Dale Bredesen and his team. Please check out Bredesen, D.E., (2014). Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program. Aging. 6 (9), 707-17. 90% reversal of Alzheimer’s so far in 110 patients!

  • karin

    Wonderful hopeful information! Thank you so much for sharing it with us, Dr. Perlmutter!

    • David Perlmutter

      Thanks for reading!

  • Claire Nilson

    Where may we as consumers obtain these particular probiotics
    that you mention in your article?

    • Bernadette Longden

      The company I am an independent representative of has a certified organic probiotic that contains the full 13 strains of the lactobacillus family. Check them out at http://www.bit.lyUPStore (that is my online store.). Look under products then superfoods. Discounts apply as more enters your basket.

  • Yvonne Cruet Fedorsha

    I buy Dr.Formulated probiotics…from Garden of Life from amazon and it has all that he mentions…I get the ” Once Daily Women”s..
    You may get them at Whole Foods and Vitamin Shop …

  • de anne ottaway

    How does the prebiotics enter into decreasing inflammation?

  • Dennis Durost

    I previously posted a comment citing a 2016 study showing a link between Alzheimer’s disease and those taking stomach acid reducing Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) such as Nexium and Prilosec. Unfortunately, the link I provided was broken. Here is the correct link

    • Bob Powell

      Searching this topic found that it’s a very weak link or unproven. Check out Medscape or other credible sites.

  • Scott

    Very interesting, I have been experimenting with fermented cabbage and vegetables..going on the theory that in the past fermented live cultures were a huge part of our diet. It’s hard to find live cultures unless you make them yourself. So I have grown my own cabbage, cucumbers, and root vegetables and fermented them. I used the recipe and starter culture on dr Mercola’s website for the cultered vegetables and natural fermentation for the cabbage. I eat them for brunch along with a can of sardines 2 or 3 times a week.

    • Phyllis HAKE

      This is also my question. Probiotics are so plentiful in these and so cheap compared to purchasing expensive bottles. Does this work? Do you see results and what does Dr. say about this. It seems that with the loss of these items in our food supply over the last century that the brain is showing more disease and we could just change the profile with this protocol.

  • janis lynn

    Hi All, I am wondering how you feel about milk kefir probiotics? I have been making my own from my grains for years. Not sure what strains are in tho!

    • Paola Rappaccioli

      Hi Janis, I would recommend OmniBiotics Probiotics. I found this one has a great strong formula and its very affordable. http://omnibiotics.me/flora-renew/

      • janis lynn

        Hi Paola, I live in Australia and it seems to be hard to find this one!
        Thanks for info. Janis

  • Lizzie Clifton

    Dr. Perlmutter, does this also apply to early-onset Alzheimer’s? I was hoping you would comment on the 60 minutes special on Sunday about this, but they never mentioned lifestyle changes for early-onset. Thanks for your input!

  • Bob Powell

    How often are we supposed to take probiotics? We take a product that has the five strains and more but this can get very expensive if taken daily. As a result we reduced our intake to twice per week.

    • Paola Rappaccioli

      Hi Bob, I would recommend OmniBiotics Probiotics. I found this one has a great strong formula and its very affordable. http://omnibiotics.me/flora-renew/

  • JohnInTheOC

    I only suspect that taking a lot of supplements and Rx’s at the time of ingesting probiotics might damage them Any peer reviewed trust-able sources to clearly https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95cae1e1ea02b0fbd12e114c4c2234d66a639ffe1fc302f78dfacd1128c80d15.jpg this?

  • wendy bartlett

    i have been dealing with a full body itchy rash for a few years. recently had a doc tell me about leaky gut and probiotics started taking probiotics and my skin is improving i want to make sure i am eating the right foods and also taking the right probiotics i finally see light at the end of tunnel and would like some advice about diet and probiotics… already think i have gluten sensitivity but not sure what else

  • ron

    Someone made this comment on another website when I indicated I took probiotics. How would you respond?

    “A healthy microbiome is not made by 10 laboratory produced strains, but you keep piling those 10 strains in starving thousands of natural healthy strains out.

    Add to that the chemical crap that they pack the microbes in – what does that do to your natural microbiome, gut and body”?

  • ron

    Do Probiotics have anything to do with resistant starch?

  • Jacklin @womenprobiotic

    Hi, I really like your article because this article is very informative & well descriptive. keep continue your writing.
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  • Melissa

    My father was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is doing fairly well but I would like to purchase a probiotic for him to take that you discuss in your article. Do you sell a probiotic with this strength and if not can you recommend a brand? Thank you in advance for your help!

    • David Perlmutter
      • Dr. Perlmutter – In your books Grain Brain and Brain Maker… you mentioned some people having success using a probiotic enema.

        So… after several various attempts… with very little success – I finally tried something that worked!!!

        So… I just want to share my amazing success I have experienced with my “nervous system issues” – using a long/deep probiotic enemas… + plus taking 10 minute “Brain Breaks” (meditation) at least 1-2 times a day (and of course – changing my diet :-).

        If you want to know more information – you can reply to the message or contact me at (kentareed at kentareed dot com) – and I will share more details with you privately.

        Otherwise – THANK YOU for helping the HUMAN RACE become healthier by providing such wonderful information!

    • Paola Rappaccioli

      Hi Melissa, I would recommend OmniBiotics Probiotics. I found this one has a great strong formula. http://omnibiotics.me/flora-renew/

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