There is a silent killer lurking in the shadows of the African American community. Few know about it and often credit its sneaky attack to old age. This phantom menace slowly imposes a gradual, yet painful deterioration of the mind; robbing victims of their independence and memory. Known as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), it is a challenge Black families are experiencing more than others.
Alzheimer’s is a fatal form of progressive dementia. At the onset, victims experience memory loss and confusion, often mistaken for old age or “old-timers.” Within a span of two to 20 years, AD ultimately leads to dramatic personality changes, severe loss of mental function, the inability to make decisions and recognize family members, and eventually death.
But what makes AD fatal?
According to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, AD is related to the “breakdown of the connection between neurons in the brain.” Abnormal collections of proteins called amyloid plaques and nerofibrillary tangles are associated with AD, along with the deterioration of the brain. By the final stage of the disease, researchers have found the brain has significantly shrunken.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that African Americans are twice as likely as Whites to develop AD, but are less likely to get a diagnosis.
The African American population is one of the unhealthiest groups in the country. We typically rank higher than other people for issues like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and now AD. The U.S. Department of Human Services found in its 2009 survey of health in the United States that Blacks ranked as the second unhealthiest group in the country, behind Native Americans.
Along with our fluctuating health issues, many of us do not visit the doctor on a regular basis.
Dr. Petra Niles of the Alzheimer’s Association says families often seek a diagnosis years after symptoms begin to show, because AD is mistaken for old age.
“African Americans often believe and accept that memory loss is a normal part of aging,” the specialist stated. “Therefore they are less likely to receive available treatments and be aware of supportive services that can assist them.”
High blood pressure and diabetes as well as other diseases prevalent among African Americans are treatable ways to reduce the risk of developing AD or other forms of dementia.
“According to the 2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures in California, the number of African Americans living with AD will double by the year 2030 with an estimated increase from 26,521 to 52,364 people,” Niles explained, emphasizing the adverse affects it has not only on patients, but families. “AD places emotional, physical, and financial stress on those who are taking care of their loved ones. As the disease progresses, the changes in the person with AD may cause unusual or unpredictable behaviors that are a challenge for the caregiver.”
Most doctors concede that AD is not reversible, but it can be slowed with various medications. However, other professionals disagree.
Nathan Rabb Jr., Ph.D., a holistic doctor in Los Angeles, says although researchers have not targeted a specific cause for AD, he says other contributing factors may include our high fat, high salt and meat diets, the amount of water we drink, as well as the fluoride, mercury, and aluminum in our every day uses.
“A lot of people are being told to take flu shots, and only flu shots have mercury in them,” Rabb pointed out. “According to Dr. (Hugh) Fudenberg those who received five consecutive flu vaccinations during a 10-year span of (an investigation) had a 10-fold increase of developing AD than those who received no shots, one shot, two shots, and he found that there was both aluminum and mercury contained in influenza vaccinations.”
Rabb continued, “It’s not any one thing, it’s a host of many things that people come along with that they are exposed to in their lifetime. Aluminum has long been recognized as a neurotoxin. Anything that is a neurotoxin will damage your neurological system.”
Rabb, as a holistic doctor, emphasizes the importance of maintaining a natural balance within the body. The consumption of medications, aspirins, and other toxic substances that are not natural will likely harm the body in the long run.
In his research, the holistic doctor found that contrary to more accepted reports, the progression of AD can be stopped and even reversed, but that can never be done with pharmaceuticals.
He recommends Acetyl-L-carnitine and phosphatidylserine for brain health. Good, healthy eating is also the key to living long, dementia-free lives.
“Sometimes we are so stuck in tradition that we don’t even know where the tradition comes from. We stay with it. There are a lot of things we need to change,” the doctor said, adding that Americans need to be more conscious of the types of foods they are consuming.
He said eating organically grown foods and staying away from meats and high fatty foods have proven to decrease the chances of sicknesses.
Rabb also mentioned that some Alzheimer’s patients have been misdiagnosed and instead died from untreated Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), the human form of Mad Cow disease.
Scientists have found that both diseases contain a certain protein that essentially aids in brain degeneration. A book written by Colm A. Kelleher called “Brain Trust” uncovers the shocking correlation between Mad Cow disease and AD. A 1989 study conducted by Drs. Elias E. and Laura Manuelidis at Yale found that 13 percent of their subjects who supposedly suffered from AD were actually afflicted with Mad Cow disease. Another physician, Dr. Michael Greger, confirms in a 1996 article that 2 to 12 percent of all dementia patients are actually suffering from CJD.
However, the Center for Disease Control states that only three occurrences of CJD have happened in the United States. The CDC’s current method of monitoring the disease is reviewing death certificates and present investigations of those suspected of having CJD.
Rabb also said other conditions such as hypothyroidism drug reactions, neurovascular disease, and brain tumors have too been misdiagnosed as AD. He said if this happens, patients are given medications to relieve AD instead of the true ailment.
AD is a serious and deadly disease. Although many have accepted memory loss and deterioration as part of aging, it does not have to be that way. With the correct diagnosis and the right treatment, AD and other diseases usually associated with age can be prevented, slowed, or even stopped. For more information, visit alz.org or drnathanrabb.com.