Nasal Insulin Could Help People with Early Alzheimer’s or Mild Cognitive Decline

  • Evidence continues to accumulate that shows a correlation between overall health and Alzheimer's. Now, insulin, given in the form of a nasal spray, is being tested on people with Alzheimer's disease, with good preliminary results.


    USA Today online story titled, "Insulin via nasal spray shows benefit in Alzheimer's patients,"  reports on the results of a short-term trial using intranasal insulin for treatment of people with mild cognitive decline. The study shows some benefits on certain memory and functioning tests.


    This study was done by researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System/University of Washington-Seattle, and results were recently presented at the Alzheimer's Association Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Honolulu.

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    OurAlzheimer's has run numerous articles on diet, exercise and other healthy habits that quote studies showing how perhaps these healthy habits could play a role in keeping Alzheimer's at bay - at least for certain people. The saying that "what is good for the heart is good for the brain," often heard in Alzheimer's circles, seems to be holding up.


    This new study shows that insulin, already available for some folks as a nasal spray, may benefit those at risk for Alzheimer's, or even those who already have the disease. There has been other research done which suggested that Alzheimer's and insulin resistance could be closely related, so this is not an entirely new concept, and this new study was not huge, by any means, but the results are encouraging.


    In this study, 109 adults with mild cognitive decline or early Alzheimer's disease received either a placebo or 20 or 40 IU daily of nasal insulin treatments, which were sustained over a four month period. The researchers found that the insulin taking groups performed better than those who received the placebo.


    "We're becoming increasingly aware that diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and hyperglycemia are all risk factors for Alzheimer's and memory loss with aging...," R. Scott Turner, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center said.


    A couple of weeks ago, a study showed that blood pressure medications could help some with Alzheimer's.


    I'm always excited when a new trial shows that existing medications and/or vitamins or herbs have proven, in studies, to help those with Alzheimer's disease or those who are at risk.


    Curcumin and vitamin D is a combo that illustrated the later approach. These naturally occurring ingredients were used in a study done by UCLA researchers which showed promising results in preventing and even reducing the plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's.


    While drug studies continue, with every drug company on the planet hoping to discover the magic pill that will prevent or cure Alzheimer's, we need to be alert to what is available now. This new study about insulin is heartening. I look forward to seeing more studies done in this area.


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Published On: July 16, 2010