Vegan Health ArticlesAlzheimer's Disease: Functional Therapeutics in Neurodegenerative Disease
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By David Perlmutter, M.D.

As the Decade of the Brain draws to a close, a dramatic and fortuitous shift in our approach to the understanding and treatment of a variety of neurodegenerative conditions is occurring. For the past century, we have been burdened by simplistic cause-and-effect deterministic models of disease causality from the Newtonian germ theory schools of Pasteur and Koch.

Perhaps because of the profound social and economic burden of the neurodegenerative diseases on modern society, and with the prospect of an even greater impact in future decades, researchers world-wide are pursuing what at first glance may appear to be unrelated avenues of research in hopes of gaining a fuller understanding as to a unified theory underlying the neurodegenerative conditions. The small puzzle pieces provided by the multitude of researchers now seem to be crystallizing into a recognizable and useful model unified by a broad base of seemingly disparate etiologic factors including infectious agents, genetic predisposition, environmental factors, endotoxic factors, metabolic abnormalities, traumatic events, electromagnetic radiation exposure, antioxidants, sex hormones, pharmaceutical drugs, and others.

The cornerstone of this emerging model seems to focus on the critically important role of mitochondrial energy metabolism and its relationship to the toxic effects of excitatory neurotransmitters . In this model, excitatory neurotransmitters (predominantly glutamate) stimulate specific neuronal receptors which, when altered by deficient mitochondrial ATP production, leads to a self-perpetuating cascade of events ultimately culminating in neuronal death.

This monograph will explore the “excitotoxic” theory of neurodegenerative diseases by providing a broad overview of the mechanisms involved ultimately leading to cell death, as well as specific and exciting therapeutic interventions based upon this model which are now demonstrating efficacy.

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