Against the flow

Af­ter Peter Dredge’s wife, Ann, re­ceived a hope­less Alzheimer’s prog­no­sis, he looked out­side main­stream medicine for an­swers. He says an ex­per­i­men­tal diet and detox pro­to­col ap­pears to have ar­rested her de­cline and re­versed some of her symp­toms. Dredge ha

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Af­ter Peter Dredge’s wife, Ann, re­ceived a hope­less Alzheimer’s prog­no­sis, he looked out­side main­stream medicine for an­swers. Dredge has now writ­ten a book. He spoke to Mark Broatch.

In 2010, Peter and Ann Dredge were fit and healthy 58-year-olds, par­ents to three adult chil­dren, run­ning a suc­cess­ful life in­sur­ance bro­ker­age and look­ing for­ward to their Su­perGold Card years. Ann had be­gun strug­gling with pa­per­work, and soon had dif­fi­culty driv­ing and cy­cling. Even­tu­ally di­ag­nosed with early-on­set “atyp­i­cal” Alzheimer’s, Ann reached the fi­nal stages of the dis­ease only five years later.

Un­will­ing to ac­cept the stan­dard med­i­cal prog­no­sis of con­stant de­cline and then death, Peter Dredge set about re­search­ing the dis­ease. Then he read an ar­ti­cle in the Lis­tener about Dr Dale Bre­desen and his ap­par­ent suc­cess at ar­rest­ing and even rev­ers­ing the progress of early-stage Alzheimer’s with a rig­or­ous diet and life­style regime. Dredge has now pro­duced a book about Ann and their present life, what his moun­tains of re­search un­cov­ered about in­fec­tion, in­flam­ma­tion and brain health, and his frus­tra­tions with the med­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment.

How’s Ann now?

Well, she’s not great. But she’s a whole lot bet­ter than she was. She’s still very se­verely dis­abled, but mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Con­sid­er­ing, in Septem­ber last year, the neu­rol­o­gist said to me, “I’ll be sur­prised if she sees Christ­mas”. She’s been up and down, and mainly the downs have been … her get­ting into the hands of med­i­cal peo­ple who’ve tried to take con­trol and weren’t go­ing to have a bar of the fact that she had a read­ily iden­ti­fied, well-doc­u­mented med­i­cal con­di­tion and that her prospects were any­thing but grim. I mean, that she wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to die.

To give you an ex­am­ple, she’s been at her cur­rent rest home for three weeks, and when she went in from the hos­pi­tal – a five-week stint in geri­atric re­hab at North Shore – she came out quite ag­i­tated. They set­tled her down be­cause she’d been hav­ing bad colic pains like in the last rest home. She was on some­thing like four to five shots daily of [an in­jected] seda­tive to calm her down. She went to the rest home and we got her back on the pro­to­col for treat­ing chronic in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse syn­drome (CIRS). It wasn’t that the hos­pi­tal wasn’t look­ing af­ter her, but I think it’s two and a half weeks since she’s had the seda­tive. She’s a lot calmer.

The un­der­pin­ning of her con­di­tion is that her im­mune sys­tem keeps gen­er­at­ing an in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse be­cause it thinks she has Lyme Dis­ease (a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion caused by a tick bite). The blood tests are in­di­cat­ing that it’s gone; a spe­cific urine test would con­firm that. But she needs deep-tis­sue mas­sage be­cause Lyme can hide in the tis­sues. I’m not a bi­ol­o­gist, I strug­gle to grasp this, but her in­flam­ma­tory mark­ers are telling us that her sys­tem’s re­act­ing to some­thing that’s gone. We cur­rently feed her an old choles­terol med­i­ca­tion, which is a very good biotoxin bin­der. If she goes off that for a cou­ple of days, then she quickly goes back­wards. She’s start­ing to talk again. In late May, she put on a kilo a week – she was down to 40kg at 157cm, but her light­est was about 55kg when she was very fit be­fore the dis­ease. She’s got her­self up to 53kg and is main­tain­ing that.

How well can she com­mu­ni­cate?

One of the is­sues we’ve had with her is her ag­i­ta­tion, which ap­pears to be a delir­ium re­sult­ing from tox­ins get­ting away on her. The first ca­su­alty of that is her ex­pres­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Her re­cep­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a whole lot bet­ter. She un­der­stands and an­swers ques­tions, re­sponds to her care­givers. She can an­swer

yes and no, but oc­ca­sion­ally, if she’s hav­ing a bet­ter day … When I leave I say, “I love you to bits, dar­ling, do you love me?” Most times she’ll squeak out, “Yes”.

An­other time, we man­aged to get her on to the detox pro­to­col. She said to me, “I can’t stand the sight of you”, with a wry grin on her face. Last week, she said, “Afraid so”. Some bits of hu­mour come out, but clearly it’s a ma­jor ef­fort of con­cen­tra­tion to talk. She’s way more co-op­er­a­tive with the car­ers; she’s start­ing to feed her­self (to some de­gree). These are things she hasn’t done since this time last year. I’ve started to take her for rides in the car, which I had to aban­don a year ago be­cause she was so ag­i­tated.

For some­one in the late stages of the dis­ease, isn’t this quite re­mark­able?

That’s the whole point. When we found out what was wrong with her last Septem­ber and started the detox, straight away she came right. Within 10 days, she was talk­ing to peo­ple, recog­nis­ing friends, in­ter­ject­ing in con­ver­sa­tions, able to tell us when she needed to be toi­leted and the whole works. But the rest home’s GP, in our view, just ob­structed the whole pro­gramme and it came to pieces.

When I leave I say, “I love you to bits, dar­ling, do you love me?” Most times she’ll squeak out, “Yes”. An­other time, she said, “I can’t stand the sight of you”, with a wry grin.

What’s her diet regime?

As far as pos­si­ble, she’s eat­ing ke­to­geni­cally. Ann and I have been fid­dling around with a ke­to­genic diet for years. Pro­fes­sor Dale Bre­desen’s peo­ple are adamant, and it’s well doc­u­mented, ap­par­ently, that peo­ple with Alzheimer’s, their brains don’t metabolise glu­cose (from sug­ars) but can metabolise ke­tones (from fat – see side­bar page 26). Four years ago, I started her on co­conut oil and man­aged to do a re­ver­sal there. But it was only tem­po­rary, un­for­tu­nately.

She has no sugar, no starch, no dairy, no al­co­hol. Lots

of green veges, lean meats, but not much fish due to mer­cury and tox­i­c­ity con­cerns. So she eats fairly plain food. Also, from 2014, we started giv­ing her 120ml daily of a co­conut oil/MCT (medium-chain triglyc­erides) mix in a 60:40 ra­tio. The mix­ture metabolises quickly into ke­tones to sup­ply Ann’s brain – MCT quickly, co­conut oil slower. The rest home also puts a lot into her cook­ing.

The rest home is fine with that?

They’re good. To be fair, be­cause this is her sixth rest home, this one twice, most of them are fine with the ke­to­genic diet; it’s the doc­tors that got in the way. The hos­pi­tal couldn’t get it, just didn’t un­der­stand. The ke­to­genic diet’s just meat and three veg with­out the starchy stuff. Scram­bled eggs is good ke­to­genic food.

Is she on any­thing else?

She’s get­ting daily ad­min­is­tra­tions of some­thing called va­soac­tive in­testi­nal polypep­tide (VIP). Bre­desen cat­e­gorises what she’s got as in­hala­tional Alzheimer’s, which is the same as CIRS, be­cause most of it comes from weather-dam­aged build­ings. Dr Ritchie Shoe­maker in the United States de­vel­oped the Shoe­maker pro­to­col and some­thing like 300 med­i­cal prac­tices in the US are us­ing it, very suc­cess­fully, for treat­ing CIRS, and VIP is an in­te­gral part of it be­cause it helps the brain re­assem­ble it­self.

The first six weeks of VIP cost me $6500 in New Zealand, and I’ve since tracked it down in Aus­tralia for $300. We’ve found out (via an Oligoscan, a de­vice that claims to mea­sure min­eral and metal lev­els in tis­sues) that Ann has very high lev­els of met­als tox­i­c­ity. The rest home has agreed they’ll (help with the met­als detox), be­cause most of it’s herbal stuff of one sort or an­other, some sil­i­cate for get­ting rid of alu­minium be­cause Ann’s brain alu­minium lev­els are very high.

Do you have a the­ory about what causes Alzheimer’s?

I don’t have a the­ory. I’ve got a sci­ence de­gree, in maths and psy­chol­ogy, but when I talk about this stuff I’m re­ly­ing heav­ily on the work of Bre­desen as re­ported. But I’m very fo­cused. Bre­desen talks of the ma­jor types of Alzheimer’s: vas­cu­lar, which, I un­der­stand, is re­lated to obe­sity and di­a­betes; ge­netic; and toxic or en­vi­ron­men­tal Alzheimer’s, which is what Ann’s got. There’s any num­ber of en­vi­ron­men­tal things that can do it. It just so hap­pens that Ann’s is the chronic in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse one.

Do you think Ann’s was trig­gered by the Lyme in­fec­tion?

That’s what the test­ing is telling us. In Oc­to­ber last year, she had CIRS test­ing, which was quite a to-do. Her in­flam­ma­tory mark­ers were off the charts. But one par­tic­u­lar marker they looked at sug­gested Lyme cau­sa­tion. Ann and I were in Fiji in 2007, and that was the only time we thought Ann could have been bit­ten by a tick, be­cause they’ve got Lyme up there.

Do you think an in­fec­tion can trig­ger an in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse, or might a brain event ex­pe­dite Alzheimer’s – a stroke, for ex­am­ple, hugely in­creases the risk of de­men­tia?

One of the things Bre­desen is hot on is den­tal hy­giene, and Dave Jenk­ins (a doc­tor and for­mer lec­turer at the Univer­sity of Auck­land med­i­cal school) was say­ing they test ev­ery­body for leaky gut, which re­search from top uni­ver­si­ties is in­di­cat­ing is a fac­tor as well. They’ve iden­ti­fied about 40 dif­fer­ent causal fac­tors. They go hunt­ing, and if any­thing’s out of shape, they put it into shape.

Bre­desen cat­e­gorises what she’s got as in­hala­tional Alzheimer’s, which is the same as CIRS, be­cause most of it comes from weather-dam­aged build­ings.

Doc­tors need to fess up to the fact that they’re out of their depth. They need to, as a group, pay at­ten­tion to the sci­ence and say, “How the hell can we fix this prob­lem?”

The Bre­desen regime is quite tough, isn’t it?

It’s com­pre­hen­sive. You’re not just go­ing to chug along with your life as it was, be­cause you’ve got a se­ri­ous prob­lem and have to come at it from quite a few dif­fer­ent an­gles. It is a big job, and the stakes are high. As Jenk­ins said, you’re way bet­ter off to be a bloke who’s got Alzheimer’s than a woman, be­cause – I’m not sure how big his client base is across Aus­tralasia – I’m the only male care­giver he’s work­ing with. The men tend to drop their wives and run, dump them in a rest home and clear off.

We never dived heav­ily into the Bre­desen pro­to­col be­cause Ann was so far gone that there was no way we’d get her into a brain gym or that stuff. Bre­desen has shown clearly that they get very good re­sults, but the mo­ment peo­ple fall off the wagon, they start to regress.

Where did you get most of your re­search?

What got me go­ing was the Lis­tener ar­ti­cles in 2014 and 2016. And I just started fol­low­ing the re­search. The knowl­edge I picked up around the CIRS came as a re­sult of (Jenk­ins’) test­ing of Ann. I think he men­tioned Shoe­maker and away we went.

How many doc­tors in this re­gion are trained in the Bre­desen pro­to­col?

It’s ba­si­cally just Dave. They’re try­ing to train some coaches to do the close-in and di­etary and di­ag­nos­tic stuff. They’re get­ting ev­ery­thing much more sys­tem­a­tised. It’s very much a work in progress. Small sam­ple-size suc­cess rates – over 85% is my un­der­stand­ing – seem to me se­ri­ously sig­nif­i­cant when you com­pare them with the rest of the med­i­cal world; of some­thing like 240 drug tri­als so far, I think four drugs have made it to reg­is­tra­tion, and they’re a waste of time any­way.

Do you think there will be an Alzheimer’s drug in time?

You look at it and you go, how the hell could you have a drug that could do so much? It’s like try­ing to have a drug for be­ing sick. We’re deal­ing with at least 40 dif­fer­ent med­i­cal com­plaints that have a com­mon­al­ity of symp­tom. Bre­desen talked of a bucket with 36 holes in it, and drugs might plug up one of them. I think it was in 1995 that they came up with the amy­loid cas­cade hy­poth­e­sis – all we have to do is clean up these tan­gles and amy­loid plaques. They’ve been thrash­ing at that for nearly 25 years and they’ve got nowhere. Isn’t that the def­i­ni­tion of in­san­ity, do­ing the same thing hop­ing for a dif­fer­ent re­sult?

What would you like to see in Alzheimer’s care and sup­port?

First thing, in my opin­ion, doc­tors need to fess up to the fact that they’re out of their depth. They need to stand aside and dump their sin­gle-vari­able test­ing and start to get smart. Why don’t they do ge­netic test­ing? They need to, as a group, pay at­ten­tion to the sci­ence and say, “How the hell can we fix this prob­lem?” There’s no treat­ment we’ve given that can be con­strued as dan­ger­ous. I had huge op­po­si­tion to just get­ting tests such as lev­els of var­i­ous met­als in the blood done. I can’t see what there is to lose.

Be­ing a de­men­tia care­giver is hard. How are you?

I talk to a lot of peo­ple be­cause of Lexus, Ann’s as­sist­ing dog. I had a lady come to me and she said, “I’ve lost two hus­bands, one to cancer, one to Alzheimer’s; the cancer death was so much eas­ier.” How I keep my head above water is that I’m do­ing stuff. And we’re win­ning. Late last year, we were plan­ning Ann’s funeral; that was pretty hard. When I kept run­ning into re­sis­tance, I be­came a lot harder. I guess what turned it around for us was the first time we detoxed Ann, in Septem­ber last year, and saw a huge turn­around within 10 days. Know­ing what’s wrong is most of the bat­tle. The Aus­tralian Par­lia­ment is look­ing into CIRS in a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry that’s due to re­port any day. For­tu­nately for the Aus­tralians, one of their sen­a­tors got it.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Peter Dredge’s book, Beat­ing Alzheimer’s, The En­emy at the Gate: Turn­ing De­spair into Hope and Ac­tion, visit beat­myen­

1. Peter and Ann Dredge in 1985, aboard the boat they sailed from New Zealand to the US. 2. The cou­ple in 2013. 3. With as­sist­ing dog Lexus in 2016. 4. Ann in 2009. Be­low left, Ann and Lexus in 2012.

Dale Bre­desen: out­side the main­stream.

From left, Drs Ritchie Shoe­maker and Dave Jenk­ins.

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