Bredesen RECODE Protocol

A neural network
Ellen McCallum
Written by Ellen McCallum

Reversing the Cognitive Decline of Dementia RECODE

Most of us have been touched by dementia in our lives, whether as patients, carers, family, or friends. The loss of normal skills for daily life can be heart-breaking and, until recently, there has seemed little hope of either treatment or prevention. However, a new therapeutic approach to treating neurodegeneration is showing remarkable early results.

The Bredesen Recode protocol

The Bredesen ReCODE (Reversal of Cognitive Decline) protocol, developed by American neuroscientist Dr Dale Bredesen from over 30 years of research, is a multi-faceted and personalised approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

In his seminal paper, ‘Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program’ (published in the journal Aging, September 2014), Dr Bredesen described a personalised programme based on treating the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease. Out of 10 case studies, nine showed enough improvement to return to normal life activities. In a subsequent study, more than 100 patients showed improved symptoms. Meanwhile, hundreds of people around the world are already using the protocol to help alleviate or prevent cognitive decline.

Factors affecting the brain

Dr Bredesen’s research revealed that at least 36 metabolic factors contribute to the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s and that all of these can trigger ‘downsizing’ in the brain. 

In the brain there are nearly 10,000 synapses or connections which are needed for us to speak, learn, remember, find our way, and make decisions.

The health of the brain can be thought of in the same way as our bones – we have bone building activity – osteoblastic and bone breakdown – osteoclastic. An imbalance of these is what leads to problems like osteoporosis.

What the brain does is the same – we have synaptoblastic activity – building synapses (connections) and synaptoclastic activity. What the scientists discovered was that people with cognitive decline were on the wrong side of the balance.

To get the brain to function well you need to change the balance.  Synapse-making and synapse-destroying factors function in a “loop” that develops momentum, like a snowball rolling downhill. The more synapse destruction the more we lose memories, verbal, spatial, mathematical, and physical skills. It was discovered that many things, not just amyloid and tau, can shift the brain towards synapse destruction.  

The defining features of Alzheimer disease (AD) include conspicuous changes in both brain histology and behavior. The AD brain is characterized microscopically by the combined presence of 2 classes of abnormal structures, extracellular amyloid plaques and intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles, both of which comprise highly insoluble, densely packed filaments. The soluble building blocks of these structures are amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides for plaques and tau for tangles. Amyloid-β peptides are proteolytic fragments of the transmembrane amyloid precursor protein, whereas tau is a brain-specific, axon-enriched microtubule-associated protein. 

Extract from paper “Amyloid-β and tau: the trigger and bullet in Alzheimer disease pathogenesis“:

Broadly speaking the factors fall into categories, including:

  • Inflammation, which can be caused by many things including stress and viral infections such as Lyme disease.
  • Glyco (sugar)-toxicity, the so-called type-3 diabetes
  • Metabolic problems such as hormone or nutrient deficiency
  • Toxicity which can come from environmental factors such as mould or heavy metal exposure.

The contributing factors vary depending on the individual’s current health, lifestyle and genetics.  A ‘cognoscopy’ which measures many of the known drivers of the disease is the start point. From there the protocol is personalised to incorporate as many things to promote synapse making as possible, giving the brain more and more momentum to optimise function.

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