5 minute read

The Bredesen Protocol and The End of Alzheimer's

Kim Haslam
Kim Haslam
Written on
March 24, 2022

An Interview with Dr Andrew Greenland

The Bredesen Protocol, also known as ‘the anti-Alzheimer's diet’, is the first programme designed to reverse and prevent cognitive decline. Designed by Dr Dale Bredesen, an internationally recognised expert in the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, the Bredesen Protocol is a comprehensive personalised program designed to improve cognition and reverse the cognitive decline of (early) Alzheimer’s disease by addressing the underlying contributing factors.

Dr Andrew Greenland is a fully qualified medical doctor, with a unique profile of twenty five years of conventional medical experience combined with extensive training in complementary therapies including Herbal Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Medical Acupuncture, Osteopathic Medicine (non practising) and Functional Medicine. As an expert in the Bredesen Protocol, he shares his thoughts and experience on this whole-body approach to Alzheimer’s Disease.

What makes the Bredesen protocol so effective in treating dementia and Alzheimer’s?

The diagnostic workup for the Bredesen protocol aims to identify all potential root causes and triggers for the condition and therefore inform highly targeted and precise treatment. 

Is the Bredesen protocol appropriate for anyone suffering with dementia, or are there individuals it is less effective for?

Anyone has the potential to benefit from treatment with the Bredesen protocol.  However those patients who present earlier, with milder cognitive impairment  are likely to have better outcomes than those with end stage Alzheimer’s. 

Is the Bredesen Protocol a standardised treatment plan - is it the same for every patient? 

No - the Bredesen Protocol is bespoke and the treatment recommendations are highly targeted to address patients’ individual metabolic imbalances, And based on genetic factors, root causes, triggers and mediators.

How does the process work, from when a client walks into your clinic?

The process begins with a thorough clinical assessment during which we will explore all aspects of the medical history, current cognitive symptomatology, past medical history, dietary intake, exercise, stress, sleep, and environmental factors. We also conduct a brief cognitive assessment to obtain a baseline. From this we will  establish a plan of investigation and suggest some preliminary treatment interventions. Next follows a thorough diagnostic work up, and neuroradiological volumetric MRI imaging. When all the results are back, we will upload the results into the Recode algorithm and produce an individualised treatment plan known as the ReCode report.

Is it possible to see a reversal of Alzheimer’s symptoms on the Bredesen Protocol, or are results limited to halting the disease progression? 

At the very least we aim to halt further disease progression. However, it has been possible to reverse the disease process for some patients.

Is it effective for the prevention of Alzheimer’s in patients with a strong genetic predisposition?

Absolutely.  There is a version of the programme called PreCode, which is focussed on prevention in those with a strong genetic predisposition to cognitive decline / Alzheimer’s.  In fact everyone of us needs to be following a version of PreCode which establishes a healthy way of living that prevents many chronic disease processes.

What are the key risk factors for Alzheimer's that are illuminated through testing on the Bredesen Protocol?

Inflammation, glycotoxicity (blood sugar dysregulation), nutritional and endocrine disturbances / imbalances, genetic factors, neurotrauma, toxicity, and vascular compromise.

Do you think the importance of beta-amyloid plaques has been over-emphasised in Alzheimer’s? Has it been unfairly vilified?

Amyloid plaque deposition is in fact a perfectly normal pathophysiological and protective response to brain inflammation.  Unfortunately, however it is these plaques that contribute negatively towards neurocognitive impairment.

We know there are many possible contributors to Alzheimer’s, but which ones the key ones in clinic, in your experience?

Inflammation is a key player here and there are many possible sources, some of which are subtle and insidious. For instance poor dental hygiene / gum disease or a leaky gut can create chronic low grade inflammation setting the brain ‘on fire’.  Further, there is good evidence that oral pathogens can cross the blood brain barrier.

We’ve been led to believe that genetics are of utmost importance when it comes to the development of Alzheimer’s. To what extent do you agree with this?

There is an adage in functional medicine that ‘genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger’, and this is just as relevant to Alzheimer’s.  There are many things we can do to influence environmental triggers using a holistic dietary and lifestyle approach, which can positively manipulate gene expression. 

Are all the contributors modifiable? Or are there clinical scenarios where Alzheimer’s is a foregone conclusion?

All contributors have the potential to be modifiable - it is all a matter of degree and the extent to which a patient can embrace and implement the treatment recommendations.

It seems that conventional medicine is chasing after the perfect Alzheimer’s drug - a silver bullet. Do you think this is a wild goose chase?

It is a wild goose chase. No single drug will ever have the capacity to influence the numerous biochemical and endocrine imbalances that are implicated in Alzheimer’s.

Is there a specific diet that you believe has the most benefits for reversal of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's, or does it vary greatly from patient to patient?

I believe that a modified Mediterranean, ketogenic diet without grains or dairy is best suited for optimising brain health. However there is no one size fits all and we often have to make adaptations to suit individual needs.

How do you track and measure a patients progress on the Bredesen Protocol?

Frequent clinical and neurocognitive assessments, tracking of laboratory biomarkers, and interval volumetric MRI brain scans.

Is the Bredesen Protocol supposed to be followed indefinitely, or does it have an end-point?

The Bredesen protocol should be regarded as a plan for life, and continued indefinitely.  One can not expect to preserve brain health by reverting to a toxic, nutritionally depleted, inflammatory, sleep deprived, stressful life.

What advice would you give to practitioners who are interested in specialising in the field of dementia, Alzheimer’s or neurological health?

I would strongly encourage them to take an active interest.  There is going to be an exponential rise in cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s cases in our lifetimes, and this work provides the tools for our patients (and society in the wider sense) to limit this massive disease burden and the inherent socioeconomic consequences.