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4.29.2014

Study Finds Dietary Supplement Improves Cognitive Functioning in Alzheimer’s Patients

When Rina Torres was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in her 70s, she gradually lost her ability to communicate or recognize family members. Then she joined a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine study to test if a dietary supplement, aloe polymannose multinutrient complex (APMC), might improve her mental condition.

Rina’s grandson, Lisandro Sierra, a doctor from eastern Cuba, who enrolled her in the study, admitted he was very skeptical. That is until he saw his grandmother “move from darkness to the light. She became more aware of her surroundings, asked for water when she was thirsty, and went to the bathroom by herself,” said Sierra. “It was like a touch of magic.” Torres’ dramatic improvement lasted until her death in 2012 at the age of 84.

Torres was far from the only Alzheimer’s patient to benefit from APMC, made with aloe vera powder containing a minimum of 15 percent poly acetyl mannose (BiAloe®), according to John E. Lewis, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, who led the team of Miller School and Miami Jewish Health Systems researchers.

“A female participant in her 90s was confined to a wheelchair and could not speak,” said Lewis. “Within six months of taking the dietary supplement, she was walking and talking again, and called one of our clinical coordinators by name, much to his surprise.”

An architect who had Alzheimer’s for eight years was barely able to speak and required total care. Within a few months of taking the APMC supplement, he remembered his son’s name and carried on a conversation with his wife. “She called me in tears to say that it felt like she got her husband back,” Lewis said.

The study of 34 adults with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease showed significant improvements in cognitive and immune functioning and stem cell proliferation after consuming four teaspoons of APMC per day for a 12-month period. The study, “The Effect of an Aloe Polymannose Multinutrient Complex on Cognitive and Immune Functioning in Alzheimer’s Disease,” was published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Miller School co-authors were David A. Loewenstein, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Dahlia Abreu, B.S., research assistant in psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Janet Konefal, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of family medicine and community health; and Judi M. Woolger, M.D., assistant professor of medicine.

Lewis said that APMC supports cellular biochemistry, so it has virtually no side effects. All participants demonstrated some benefit, according to the coordinators, and 46 percent of the subjects showed clinically and statistically significant improvements in cognitive functioning and 23 percent maintained their cognitive functioning at the end of 12 months. “Although the study was small, it is significant because it is among the first to provide evidence that improved nutrition may be able to reverse brain deterioration in the 5.2 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s,” Lewis said.

He added, “Aloe vera has been used for thousands of years as an approach to many health challenges, particularly for the skin. Additionally, APMC provides nutrients that are now documented to repair and regenerate cells, activate adult stem cells, and support activity in white blood cells and other immune system functions.

“Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., exacts enormous emotional and financial costs on our already overburdened healthcare system. With no current cure or preventive measures in place, effective therapies to slow or lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s disease are greatly needed,” said Lewis.

“This was a pilot study, and more research is needed on the impact of dietary supplements on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” Lewis added. “Helping the body to heal itself would be an important step forward for patients. Improved nutrition is safe, effective, and feasible for patients and the nation.”

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