June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The Alzheimer’s Association says that 5.8 million Americans live with this progressive brain disease, and this number is growing fast. The facts about its toll on individuals, caregivers and all of us are sobering. Although new drug treatment announcements are common, there has been little good news on that front. It’s now thought that drug development failures are because Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is not a single condition, but several – meaning that prevention and treatment should be multifaceted as well.
Alzheimer’s tends to develop slowly, taking decades before symptoms related to memory, judgement, language, personality and movement are apparent and lead to severe dementia. For this reason, it’s important to consider preventative steps well before symptoms of cognitive decline are observed. Approaches include diet and micronutrient supplementation, hormone balancing, overnight fasting, exercise, stress reduction and sleep quality.
It’s now understood that one of the earliest diagnostics of Alzheimer’s disease may be an alteration in brain gamma wave activity, possibly linking neural damage and rhythmic disturbances. More specifically, Alzheimer’s patients showed increased “slow oscillations” (theta rhythm), and a decrease in “the relative power of fast oscillations” (gamma rhythm).
Electrical activity in the brain helps to connect and transmit information throughout the brain. Because gamma wave activity is known to diminish in Alzheimer’s disease, research is being conducted to learn if supplementation can act as a treatment. A recent Scientific American article suggests that light flickering at 40Hz and soundwaves at this frequency shows tremendous promise. MIT neuroscientists say that brain wave treatment is improving memory and reducing amyloid plaques in mice. This study and others mention using both sound and light frequency gamma waves as a novel therapeutic modality for AD.
A few years back I investigated building my own LED lighting system using component parts, but as a non-electrician it seemed too complicated and so I settled instead for using wave sounds with Gravity Beats Cosmical Frequencies, which includes a 60 minute track of gamma 40 Hz sound. Gamma waves are not a “pretty” sound, but they feel great to me!
Any conversation about advances in Alzheimer’s treatment is incomplete without mention of work by Dale E. Bredesen, MD. A research-based protocol developed by Dr. Bredesen addresses thirty-six factors that when unbalanced, can trigger what he refers to as “downsizing” in the brain. In his book The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline, a practical plan is presented in the form of the ReCODE program (for “Reversal of COgnitive Decline”). Curious to know his thoughts on the matter, I reached out to ask what he thinks about gamma wave treatments.
Dr. Bredesen responded to my inquiry saying, “Gamma light is turning out to be helpful as part of overall protocol…[but] as with other monotherapies it’s not likely to have much effect by itself since this would leave many contributors unaddressed but used in optimization of the other parameters (insulin resistance, inflammation, methylation, toxic exposure, etc.), the initial reports are very promising.”
As part of my personal wellness program, I’ll be replacing a regular lamp with 40 Hz light therapy on my desktop and adding a light string on top of kitchen cabinets. It’s thought, but not yet known for sure, that gazing directly at the gamma light without other light sources such as computer screens could be more effective.
As with so many other activities that I pursue for long-term wellness, cognitive performance and longevity, gamma light is a hopeful yet science-based addition to my self-care routine.
To learn more about gamma wave therapy and AD: