Adjuvant Therapy Adjuvant therapies are treatments that are given in addition to primary care. For example, someone receiving chemotherapy to treat cancer may also receive an adjuvant medicine to help alleviate the side effects associated with chemotherapy.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) is a condition in which motor neurons--the cells that connect your brain to your muscles--degenerate, leading to weakness, loss of voluntary muscle control, and eventually, atrophy. There is currently no cure for ALS, but some drugs can help slow down its progression.
Antioxidant Oxidation of proteins and molecules is constantly happening in all cells. A molecule becomes oxidized when it loses one or more electrons to another molecule. While oxidation is critical for proper cellular functioning, improper oxidation can damage critical proteins and is suspected to contribute to the development of many human diseases and may contribute to some aging processes. Antioxidants are substances that prevent damaging oxidative events and maintain proper oxidative environments that are critical for cellular health. Natural antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, melatonin and CoQ10.
Atherosclerosis Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease of thickening artery walls from cholesterol and other fatty substances. It is a risk factor for heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Autoimmune Disease Autoimmune diseases result from abnormal immune system function, in which the immune system sees the body's own cells and proteins as foreign and attacks them. There are many types of autoimmune diseases, and it is speculated that autoimmunity may play a role in the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Beta-Amyloid Beta-amyloid peptides are protein fragments that are naturally found throughout the body. Large clusters of beta-amyloid are referred to as plaques, and are seen in the brains of people with diseases such as Alzheimer's or multiple sclerosis. Although the exact mechanisms remain unclear, beta-amyloid aggregates are generally thought to be detrimental to brain function.
Bioavailability The bioavailability of a given chemical refers to the ease with which it is usable by an organism after it is absorbed.
Blood-Brain Barrier The blood-brain barrier (BBB) separates the brain from the circulating blood. The BBB is selectively permeable, meaning that it will only allow certain substances from the blood to enter the brain, serving as a protective shield against potentially dangerous substances. BBB dysfunction facilitates the progression of many diseases, including Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, and stroke.
Brain Atrophy This term describes the degeneration of neurons and brain tissue. Brain atrophy may be located in isolated areas, or it may be global, causing overall brain shrinkage and a generalized loss of function. It is a common symptom in several neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis.
Cognitive Decline "Cognitive decline" refers to a progressive reduction in the brain's ability to perform mental functions, such as learning new facts or skills, or recalling memories. It is a natural process that accompanies aging.
Cognitive Function The term "cognitive function" encompasses all aspects (or "domains") of conscious brain function, including learning and memory, planning, attention, problem-solving and sensory perception.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) CTE is an emerging neurodegenerative disease associated exclusively with traumatic brain injury (TBI). It has thus far only been identified in people with a history of head trauma, mostly football players and military veterans who suffered blast injuries. CTE is similar to Alzheimer's disease in that it involves tau protein (and possibly beta-amyloid) but is distinct from Alzheimer's in which parts of the brain are affected. There currently are no treatments and CTE can thus far only be diagnosed after a person has died.
Dementia From the Latin words "de" (without) and "mens" (mind), the term dementia describes a loss of brain function that interferes with daily living and is beyond what can be attributed to normal aging. Common causes of dementia include Alzheimer's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, vascular dementia and Parkinson's disease.
Dietary Supplement Dietary supplements are ingested with the purpose of adding a "dietary ingredient" such as vitamins, minerals, or enzymes to supplement--and not substitute for--elements of a healthy diet. Although dietary supplements are allowed to make structural and functional claims, such as, "helps support a healthy digestive system," they are not required to prove these statements, nor can they claim to treat or cure an ailment.
Fatty Acids When we eat, our bodies break down fat into fatty acids, which are then absorbed throughout the body to help with important functions such as creating energy.
Flavanoid Flavanoids are a class of plant chemicals that includes flavanones and flavanols. Blueberries, citrus fruits, wine and cocoa are all sources of flavanoids. Some flavanoids are being studied as possible therapeutics for human disease.
Free Radicals Free radicals are atoms with unpaired electrons, which are "free" to react with surrounding atoms or molecules and cause a number of effects. Free radicals are important for a number of necessary biological processes, but excessive amounts of free radicals can damage or even kill cells, and may facilitate the progression of various diseases.
GRAS Generally recognized as safe (GRAS) is recognition by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that a certain chemical or substance that is added to food is considered safe by experts, and is therefore exempt from the customary Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) food additive tolerance requirements.
Huntington's Disease Huntington's disease is a hereditary disorder resulting from a mutation in the Huntingtin gene. Symptoms of Huntington's disease usually appear by the late 30s or early 40s and manifest as a progressive and severe deterioration of movement coordination and cognitive ability. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, although there are several treatments available to slow its progression or alleviate some of the symptoms.
Inflammation Inflammation is a process our bodies use to heal tissue damage and fight infections. It also plays a role in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and may contribute to normal aging as well. Many therapies targeting brain inflammation are under investigation as treatments for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Ketone Bodies Ketone bodes are produced when the liver breaks down fatty acids. They are released into the bloodstream and provide energy for the body and brain.
Korsakoff's Syndrome Korsakoff's syndrome is a neurological condition caused by a lack of thiamine (vitamin B1), and is characterized by apathy, memory loss, and a tendency to create false memories and behaviors. Korsakoff's syndrome may result from severe alcoholism or other causes of malnutrition. When Korsakoff's syndrome appears in conjunction Wernicke's disease, it is referred to as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
Medical Food Medical foods are nutritional food additives used to manage a disease or condition. Unlike dietary supplements, medical foods have a high standard of safety (GRAS, or Generally Recognized as Safe, according to FDA standards) and can be labeled to treat conditions such as dementia. However, the FDA does not evaluate the validity of these claims. Medical foods require a prescription for use.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) This term refers to a set of symptoms that indicate the beginning of cognitive impairment, beyond what can be attributed to normal aging but that does not yet interfere with daily activities. Mild cognitive impairment can be caused by many different factors and does not always lead to dementia. In fact, people diagnosed with MCI can often be cognitively stable for years or even revert to normal cognitive functioning.
Mitochondria Often referred to as the "powerhouses" of our cells, mitochondria are small organelles inside our cells that use sugar (glucose) and oxygen to make chemical energy (ATP) that can be used to power the cell. Problems in mitochodrial function can cause many different diseases and are suspected to play a role in Alzheimer's disease.
Multiple Sclerosis Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks myelin, the structures that wrap and protect neurons. Damage to myelin eventually leads to improper function, which in turn triggers a variety of sensorimotor or psychological symptoms that vary from person to person. Although the exact cause is unknown, it is believed that environmental and genetic factors may play a role in its onset and progression.
Neurons Neurons are responsible for how we see, hear, taste, smell and feel the world around us, as well as our thoughts, memories and emotions. Along with supporting cells, neurons are cells that comprise the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain and spinal chord. The breakdown of neurons underlies so-called "neurodegenerative" diseases like Alzheimer's.
Neurotransmitter Neurotransmitters are chemicals that neurons use to communicate with each other. They are essential to brain function and include chemicals like acetylcholine, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA.
Off-Label Drug Use A common practice in which a drug is prescribed and used for a health condition or patient population for which it doesn’t have approval by the FDA. This practice is fully legal but health insurance companies sometimes will not always cover the costs. For more information, see this description by WebMD.
Parasympathetic Nervous System This system, along with the sympathetic nervous system, comprise the autonomic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system maintains many of the body's resting activities, including the function of most internal organs and the digestive system.
Parathyroids Humans have four of these glands, which secrete parathyroid hormone, a chemical that regulates blood and bone levels of calcium.
Parkinson's disease Parkinson's disease is caused by the breakdown of a specific neuronal pathway in the brain that uses dopamine as a neurotransmitter. Patients have difficultly moving and sometimes experience dementia.
Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) Postoperative cognitive dysfunction involves cognitive impairment impairment in memory, understanding and attention following surgery.
Postoperative delirium (POD) Postoperative delirium involves rapidly fluctuating mental status with inattention and altered consciousness following surgery.
Sympathetic Nervous System This system, along with the parasympathetic nervous system, comprise the autonomic nervous system. In addition to organizing the body's "fight-or-flight response", the sympathetic nervous system regulates homeostasis for many bodily systems.
Tau Proteins Tau proteins are found in brain cells, where they help support cellular structure. When tau proteins malfunction, they may improperly aggregate, forming tangles that may promote the pathologies of certain neurodegenerative diseases. How tau protein tangles contribute to these diseases is still not fully understood.
Telomeres Telomeres are structures that sit at the end of chromosomes and protect DNA from damage during cell division. Each time a cell divides, its telomeres shorten, until eventually, the telomere is too short to allow further cell division. As a consequence, telomere length may reflect longevity, with shorter telomeres representing the advanced age of cells. However, their usefulness as indicators of whole body aging is still controversial.
Triglycerides Triglycerides are blood lipids that function to move fat and glucose in and out of the liver. They are important for human health and many studies indicate that elevated levels increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. For more information about triglycerides and your health, read this article from Mayo Clinic.
Vascular Dementia Vascular dementias involve dysfunction in circulation and blood supply to the brain.
Vasodilator A vasodilator is a drug that causes blood vessels to "dilate" or expand in diameter and thus increase blood flow. Conversely, a drug that causes blood vessels to "constrict" or decrease in diameter is a vasoconstrictor.
Wernicke's Disease Wernicke's disease is a neurological condition caused by a lack of thiamine (vitamin B1). This disease often results from malnutrition due to heavy alcohol abuse, but may also be caused by a number of other medical conditions. It is characterized by a lack of motor coordination, including the ability to control eye movements, and confusion, and is treated with thiamine supplementation. See also: Korsakoff's Syndrome.
White Matter Hyperintensities White matter hyperintensities (WMH) are seen in certain types of brain scans. They show up as bright, white areas in the brain, and although they are seen in normal aging, high WMH volume is said to correlate with an increased risk of certain neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and schizophrenia.
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