Heart attacks and Alzheimer’s disease are two of the scariest health problems you can experience. But that’s not all they have in common. They are both characterized by a build-up of plaque. Once plaque begins to develop, it’s difficult to get rid of – especially in your brain.
Fortunately, there’s a little-known supplement that can prevent the plaque from building up in both your brain and in your arteries. And it can even help remove the plaque once it’s started to accumulate. This supplement could be a game-changer for both diseases.
When I first talked to Blake, he was suffering from angina and other heart issues. Angina, as you may know, is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. It usually occurs as plaque begins to develop in the arteries.
Most people who have angina and see a cardiologist are given one of two options. Usually, the cardiologist starts with medication to deal with the pain. While the drug he’s prescribed might alleviate the symptoms, it isn’t going to cure your problem. And, what’s worse, it could actually cause harm to your circulatory system.
So what is this drug? It’s nitroglycerin, which is a common treatment for angina and heart failure. Within a few minutes of taking it, the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle relax, allowing oxygen-rich blood to flow into the heart. This relieves the pain.
At first, the drug can be a godsend, but it tends to lose its effectiveness over time. And studies have shown that it can damage your heart and blood vessels.
Blake was taking nitroglycerin and was starting to see its effectiveness wane. So his cardiologist suggested he have bypass surgery. His angiogram showed plaque had developed and was causing a blockage in two of his coronary arteries. His cardiologist indicated that a heart attack probably wasn’t imminent, but surgery was necessary.
I asked Blake a little about his history. He told me his heart condition was genetic and he probably would have to go through the surgery. That’s what his dad had done. I asked him what else he was taking to treat the condition. He said nothing but periodic IV chelation, which helped, but didn’t completely clear his issues. So I asked him if he would be willing to try a nutrient to see if it could help. He said sure. Here’s why I asked him to try this supplement.
A Chance Encounter
About three days before I saw Blake, I talked to Kelly, who suffered from early-stage Alzheimer’s. When I asked how she was doing, she said “Amazing!” Needless to say, I was thrilled, but shocked at the same time. I asked her what was so amazing. She said “I’m thinking clearly for the first time in a long time.” I was excited to hear the news and asked what was helping. She said her friend had told her about the supplement oxaloacetate. She started taking it and it was really helping her.
I knew about oxaloacetate’s effectiveness in Parkinson’s, but not Alzheimer’s. So I had to do some research. Sure enough, there are studies suggesting it can work as well for Alzheimer’s as it does for Parkinson’s. One of those studies found that taking oxaloacetate twice-daily (1,000 mg) activates brain bioenergetic metabolism, which is defective in Alzheimer's disease.
The supplement has seen enough success in helping Alzheimer’s patients that it’s prompted researchers to look at the disease in a whole new light. In fact, one researcher began looking into oxaloacetate because other studies had shown that the supplement can generate cell growth in the memory parts of mouse brains.
Physician and researcher Russell Swerdlow ran the study, which goes by the name TOAD, short for Trial of Oxaloacetate in Alzheimer’s disease.
Are We Thinking About Alzheimer’s the Wrong Way?
Most theories around Alzheimer’s suggest amyloid plaque, tau proteins, brain inflammation, or some combination of these are the root cause of the disease. But Swerdlow thinks that the clogging proteins are more of a horrible symptom, and not the cause. I’ve suggested this in the past with other plaques and fats, such as cholesterol. The real culprit, Swerdlow believes, is the metabolic changes that occur inside brain cells as you age.
There’s that word “metabolic” again. Alzheimer’s is known as type-3 diabetes, which suggests that it is indeed a metabolic disorder. Fix the metabolism and the disorder goes away. At the heart of your metabolism is your mitochondria, often called the powerhouses of your cells. Mitochondria are like small power generators. They create the energy that cells must have to function correctly. But as we age, our mitochondria become less efficient. And the number of mitochondria inside cells begins to dwindle. That means the cells don’t produce the energy needed to thrive. So they get weak and shrivel up. The plaques could be there to help heal the damaged cell.
So what should you do? Swerdlow says we should “Rev up the mitochondria. Get the mitochondria to hang in there longer.”
And that’s exactly what oxaloacetate has the ability to do.
Now for the Science
Oxaloacetate is one of the components of the Citric Acid Cycle. If you’re not familiar with this cycle, you may know it as the Kreb’s Cycle. Named after the man who first discovered it, Kreb’s Cycle is a series of biochemical reactions that happens in the mitochondria. It’s critical for the formation of energy. This cycle processes fat and carbohydrate into citric acid. When it does, it extracts hydrogen atoms. Then these hydrogen atoms react with oxygen in another part of the mitochondria to produce water, heat, and energy. (Nitroglycerin actually harms your mitochondria over time.)
But that’s not all that happens. There’s another reaction that occurs in the cycle. It converts NADH to NAD. I’ve told you in the past about NAD. The long name is nicatinamide adenine dinucleotide – but we’ll stick with NAD. NAD is a molecule that’s in every cell in our body. It helps the mitochondria produce the energy our cells need. This conversion is critical for your health. In fact, the less NAD you have, the more likely you are to suffer from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and even Alzheimer’s. So anything that helps this conversion of NADH to NAD can help fight disease.
The two most common ways to encourage this conversion are exercise and calorie restriction. But oxaloacetate is another way. One of the first studies on oxaloacetate found that it increases this conversion by 900%. But there’s something you can take with it that will increase the conversion even more – vitamin C. As a result, many of the oxaloacetate supplements you’ll find on the market also contain vitamin C.
One of the more popular supplements is benaGene, which you can find online. It has both nutrients and can help with a number of ailments. It’s the supplement Kelly’s friend recommended. And I recommended it to Blake.
I also suggested he take CoQ10 (100 mg of Ubiquinol), melatonin (up to 3-120 mg), carnosine (500 mg), CircO2 (one lozenge daily), and magnesium (up to 1,000 mg daily). Magnesium helps all of the blood vessels in your body dilate, allowing blood and oxygen to flow.
The CoQ10 is great for protecting the mitochondria in your heart cells. There’s an important difference between CoQ10 and nitroglycerin. The CoQ10 is supposed to be in your cells, as it works to strengthen the heart muscle and reduce its workload. With angina, your heart isn’t getting enough blood. CoQ10 raises the ejection fraction, the volume of blood pumped with each beat of the heart. And CoQ10 is a vital component of the energy generating process at the cellular level.
CoQ10 works in the mitochondrial membrane as an electron/proton donor, facilitating the process of energy production. The body must continually generate energy to support life from these minute power plants within every cell. When the mitochondria sustain damage, as with exposure to nitroglycerin, a cell will lose its ability to perform its role in life.
Cardiovascular diseases, including angina, hypertension, mitral valve prolapse, and congestive heart failure are all examples of diseases that require increased tissue levels of CoQ10. CoQ10 deficiency is common in individuals with heart disease. Heart tissue biopsies in patients with various heart diseases showed a CoQ10 deficiency in 50-75% of cases. Being one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body, the heart may be unusually susceptible to the effects of a CoQ10 deficiency.
The News Gets Even Better
I’ve told you in the past about CircO2’s heart benefits. This supplement contains L-citrulline, which is an amino acid normally made by the body. The body converts L-citrulline to L-arginine, another type of amino acid. Arginine is another heart-friendly substance. Arginine aids in the manufacture of nitric oxide, which helps relax arterial walls, an action similar to that of nitroglycerin – without the damage to the mitochondria. One study showed that regular use of arginine increased the amount of time people could exercise before angina forced them to stop. I take CircO2 every time I go to high altitudes. Its ability to help your body utilize oxygen is noticeable and very effective. It’s clearly a heart-friendly supplement.
And, finally, there’s melatonin and carnosine. Most people don’t think of heart protection when they think of melatonin. They think of sleep. But this sleep aid is a powerful heart nutrient. Carnosine is made up of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. It’s a great metal ion scavenger, so it's effective at cleaning out your blood vessels.
Not too long ago, researchers conducted a small study to discover a way to protect your organs against poor circulation. To do this, they looked at these two antioxidants.
In this particular study, the researchers divided the rats into five groups. One group was the control. The researchers induced ischemia (poor circulation) in the other four groups and then allowed the blood flow to return. During ischemia is when biochemical injury can occur – unless there are enough nutrients to protect the cells. Of these four groups, they didn't treat one group. They gave another group carnosine by itself. One group took melatonin by itself. And the last group took both carnosine and melatonin.
After the test, the researchers looked at the animals' tissues under a microscope. Understandably, the control group didn’t experience any cellular damage. The untreated group experienced several different problems, including widespread cell death. The other three groups didn’t experience nearly as much damage. But the group that took both nutrients together had the fewest number of cellular changes. This group also had the lowest rate of apoptosis (cell death).
Did all of this work for Blake? Well, he still hasn’t had surgery – and he feels great. He told me the other day that all of his angina symptoms were gone – even when he exercised. It took about three months of treatment with the nutrients to get to that point. But he was thrilled with the results.
So if you suffer from any disease that could be related to lower oxygen delivery to your cells (which is most diseases), it’s time to look at the nutrients mentioned here. All of them can help you fight your disease. But they are particularly useful in fighting heart and brain illnesses, particularly when it comes to plaque formation.
Cash, A.B. “Modification of the NAD/NADH ratio via oxaloacetate supplementation to mimic calorie restriction metabolic pathways and increase lifespan.” Anti-Aging Therapeutics, vol 12, published by A4M Publications 1510 W. Montana Street, Chicago, IL, USA 60614. p43-51.
Haslam, J.M. and H.A. Krebs. “The permeability of mitochondria to oxaloacetate and malate.” Biochem J., 1968 May;107(5):659-67.
Baykara B, Tekmen I, Pekcetin C, Ulukus C, Tuncel P, Sagol O, Ormen M, Ozogul C. The protective effects of carnosine and melatonin in ischemia-reperfusion injury in the rat liver. Acta Histochem. 2008 Jun 11. Published on-line ahead of print.