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
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 beatmyenemy.com.
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.