When the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer first identified Alzheimer’s disease as a disorder in 1906, it was considered to be psychological, and the patient was most likely institutionalized after the diagnosis. Nowadays, it is known to be a degenerative neurological disease characterized by a particular set of changes in the brain that, once started, are progressive and irreversible.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Dementia is not a disease in itself but rather a term used to describe a group of symptoms. These symptoms may include the decline of mental functions such as memory, reasoning, and language ability, as well as changes in personality, mood, and behavior. Dementia develops when parts of the brain are injured or diseased. There are over fifty known causes of dementia, and most of them are quite rare.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia. Other major causes of dementia from degenerative neurological diseases are Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and some types of multiple sclerosis. Vascular dementia can be caused by multiple strokes in the brain. Traumatic head injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls, or numerous hits to the brain as seen in football players and boxers can cause dementia.
Dementia may also be caused by infections of the central nervous system such as meningitis and HIV. Even nutritional deficiencies, depression, the chronic use of alcohol, or drug abuse can cause dementia. Alzheimer’s disease represents over half of all causes of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is an extremely complicated and devastating disease. It is complicated in that it involves related yet separate parts of the brain that combine to manifest the disease. Understanding how these separate parts of the brain become dysfunctional enough to produce a cascading effect that corrodes the brain is very complicated indeed. This corrosion leads at first to cell dysfunction, then to a loss of areas of the brain that communicate within itself, and eventually to a loss of communication between the brain and the entire body. As many of us have witnessed, the result is a human being who has lost all of his or her dependability and proficiency.
Research has shown that the road to memory loss in our senior years may start as early as our teen years! All of us begin our lives with clear arteries, but before some of us finish our adolescence, fatty streaks (cholesterol and other lipids that have accumulated on the arterial walls) have already begun to appear. By early adulthood these fatty streaks turn into fibrous plaques that begin to calcify and become raised lesions (Berenson, G., et al., 1998). As we age, these lesions may become sites of low-grade, chronic inflammation. The lesions eventually grow larger and more numerous, restricting blood flow throughout the body. Blood restriction is the hallmark of atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause of heart disease. Research suggests that the risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, a highfat diet, elevated homocysteine levels, cigarette smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle are also factors in the development of AD (Snowdon, D., et al., 2000 and Weir and Molloy, 2000). Thus the evidence of plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis, in the teenaged years leads many researchers to speculate that AD plaque may start its gradual corrosive process that early, as well. Nutritionally, this finding indicates that a diet that is good for the heart is also good for the brain.
I wrote this book to empower people to take control of their own health. Even though we are aging, certain lifestyle changes can and will improve our nutritional, environmental, and emotional well-being. There are many simple things that we can do to improve the overall health of our bodies. At present, it can be stated with certainty that the whole body is affected by its nutritional status. As demonstrated by many studies, dietary factors play major roles in determining whether the brain ages successfully or declines as a result of neurodegenerative disorders. Thus, the rewards of consistently eating a nutritious diet are definitely worthwhile. With this book, I hope to show how easy it is to make lifestyle changes that will allow us to reap the rewards of growing old gracefully.
The information in the readings of Edgar Cayce inspired me to change my life for the better by making numerous small changes not only for my body’s physical health but also for my mental and spiritual health. The amazing insights of the Cayce readings and the latest medical research on Alzheimer’s disease and inflammation compelled me to write this book.
My introduction to Edgar Cayce happened in 1982 when I Introduction read Jess Stearn’s book Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet. I signed up as an A.R.E. member halfway through the book and have been studying the Cayce readings ever since. Edgar Cayce is considered the “father of holistic medicine,” and his work inspired me to achieve a PhD in Holistic Nutrition.
The Edgar Cayce readings have always fascinated me because they were meant to engage our very being, or essence, on so many levels. His language requires concentration to read and understand what he was trying to convey on those different levels. The first sets of levels were personal, universal, and metaphysical. Within those he incorporated more levels: the spirit, the mind, and the physical. As I have matured, I have noticed that the same reading or passage that I read in previous years will give me a new meaning—as though I were reading it for the first time. I believe that an important part of sustaining a healthy brain is learning to understand various aspects of our lives on a completely new level. Allowing our perceptions to change helps our brains to stay fit.
Following are some of the Cayce “gems” that have helped me on different levels. The numbers after a quote relate to the person who received the reading and the number of readings that the person received. Edgar Cayce’s readings were organized this way because he gave over 14,000 readings, and these assigned numbers protected the person’s identity. The numbered readings allowed anyone to reference a reading for research—hence the name of the organization, the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.).
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
. . . But hold to the ideal. Choose aright, and then go straight ahead; knowing that the Lord helps those who help themselves provided their purposes are not of a selfish or egotistical nature.
– Edgar Cayce reading 2437-1
The “ideal” is central to Edgar Cayce’s philosophy. It is your guiding light in this world. My personal ideal is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.” My other ideal, which incorporates my main outlook on life, is “Celebrate the work of the Creative Spirit through nature.” Everyone’s ideal will be different and in tune with his or her unique life.
… For the only sin of man is selfishness!
(Q) How may it be overcome?
(A) Just as has been given; showing mercy, showing grace, showing peace, long-suffering, brotherly love, kindness—even under the most trying circumstances . . .
– Edgar Cayce reading 987-4
Cayce called these attributes the “fruits of the Spirit.” He states repeatedly in his readings that “Mind is the Builder” and that the fruits of the Spirit are love, peace, patience (long-suffering), kindness, gentleness, mercy, and grace.
. . . but learn to use well that had in hand, then more may be given thee. Remember the talents!
– Edgar Cayce reading 2254-1
(Q) How can people avoid aging in appearance?
(A) The mind!
– Edgar Cayce reading 1947-4
This idea is intriguing on so many levels! And finally, I like this quote from the readings:
Let not thy heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Him—who is able to quicken the life as it flows through thy body, thy mind, thy soul, to a full regeneration in the material world, then hope in the mental, then truth in the spiritual . . . — Edgar Cayce reading 2448-2
Author Michelle R. Deetken PhD is a holistic nutritionist with a doctorate in Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and a BS in Biology from the University of Nevada-Reno. Deetken’s introduction to the holistic health readings of Edgar Cayce in the 1980s was the reason for her pursuit of a holistic education. Through her experience and research, she has found that simple, positive lifestyle changes can prevent and even reverse some diseases.