Whether you are concerned about protecting your brain against cognitive decline or are searching for ways to reverse symptoms that you are already experiencing, you need to be aware of the relationship between chronic infection and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The brain’s immune response to infection is one pathway for AD development. Just like the rest of the body, the brain has an immune system that will respond to foreign invaders if triggered. Evidence suggests that instead of amyloid plaques causing AD, they are more likely a residue from the brain’s immune response to damage. This type of pathogen-induced cognitive decline is referred to as type 3 Alzheimer’s disease and requires an intricately customized treatment protocol that can cross into the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and kill the infection. The BBB breaks down over time, becoming more susceptible to infection as we age and increasing our risk of experiencing cognitive impairment. When immune proteins forming beta-amyloid and tau tangles are not cleared from the brain, they interfere with neuron communication and deplete brain function.
Bacteria in the Brain
Evidence from brain autopsies of people who died from AD reveals much higher levels of toxic bacteria, such as E. coli, than healthy brains. Gram-negative bacteria like E. coli is toxic to humans in high doses because it releases a toxin called lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which is a component of their cellular membrane.
At one point, it was thought that the bacteria only released this toxin upon death, but now we know that bacteria can release the toxin continuously while you’re still alive.
Scientists have found that LPS can induce the formation of beta-amyloid. Consider the potential for damage within the brain if an undiscovered bacterial infection is constantly releasing toxic LPS into the brain and causing an immune response and plaque formation.
Harvard researchers studying cognitive decline infected the brains of animals with bacteria. They soon developed amyloid plaques that created a cage around the microbes, killing the bacteria and protecting the brain from further infection. Even more intriguing is that the animals that were genetically rendered unable to produce beta-amyloid plaques experienced an aggressive spreading of infection and death. This seems to underscore the role of beta-amyloid as a protective response initiated by an insult to the brain.
The Toxicity of Mold and Fungus
Bacteria are not the only microbes that cause harm. Pathogens like fungus and mold infiltrate the brain and produce biotoxins that damage brain tissue. Mycotoxins are a specific type of biotoxin produced from mold and fungus that can lay biofilms in the body and brain, making them very difficult to treat. Mold and fungal spores are inhaled via the nose, giving them close access to brain tissue.
This type of cognitive decline is linked to people who have been subjected to moldy homes or other toxic environments.
It is also more commonly seen in people displaying signs of AD earlier than the typical late-onset patients. These infections can lead to a condition called chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) and can be caused by molds, fungi, aqua toxins, and Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria of Lyme disease.
Functional medicine practitioners offer innovative testing that allows us to identify chronic toxicity and infection. In addition, the body’s inflammatory markers that indicate damage and infection can be elevated years before cognitive impairment is symptomatic, so those serve as indirect markers of toxic exposure. This process is part of the deep investigative work that is required to reverse cognitive impairment in those suffering from infection or toxicity.