Glen Campbell’s Alzheimer’s: What We Learned
On Sunday night, June 28th, there was a CNN special documentary on Glen Campbell’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Not unlike the film Still Alice, this documentary shared a brave person’s battle with this incurable mind-robbing disease. In both cases, the person degenerated over time in spite of being treated with drugs. So the first point is that drugs currently used to treat Alzheimer’s, which are based on decades old science, are not very effective.
Moreover, there are no drugs currently available that have any effect on prevention whatsoever. There are a number of incredibly expensive studies going on that many scientists think is based on flawed science but we’ll just have to wait and see.
One thing that was discussed by one of Mr. Campbell’s doctors, a neurologist from Malibu, California, was the fact that Glen may have lost his cognition perhaps a bit more slowly than expected, in large part because of his musical abilities and a lifetime of playing and writing songs.
Music does penetrate the brain and to quote his physician, “Spreads throughout the brain in a positive way.”
Clearly, then, since there is no hope of curing Alzheimer’s, prevention is our best hope.
The most significant research to date on prevention is not on drugs; it’s on lifestyle measures, which have been quite positive. Your ARPF has been intimately involved with the FINGER study, for example, which has suggested that an integrative medical program similar to our Four Pillars of Prevention has a beneficial effect on preventing cognitive disability.
The Four Pillars include:
- Diet: A Plant based diet with reduced red meat is the key.
- Stress Prevention, especially with the practice of yoga and meditation, has an impact
- Physical Exercise builds up brain health and mental exercise is important, too
- Spiritual Fitness including resilience and service or simply spirituality regardless of the source is also important and has been shown slow its progression. One aspect of Spiritual Fitness, having a purpose, has been shown to actually prevent Alzheimer’s.
That’s why our research on our singing meditation exercise called Kirtan Kriya (KK) is so critically important. The reason is that it is, in fact, a musical experience, which, as revealed above, does have positive brain health effects.
What we’ve seen thus far is that practicing KK a short time each day has a very profound effect on the whole brain, increasing blood flow to significant areas that influence memory. It also creates many positive benefits on mood, energy, anxiety, sleep, and even impacts your molecules and genes.
Your ARPF is now celebrating over a decade of research on KK, which has resulted in ground-breaking results published in leading medical journals. You can discover a summary of this work by going here.