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Anandamide, Autophagy, & Prevention of Alzheimer's Dementia

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

The last post about the fragrant terpene from roses and geranium called geraniol was a sneak peek at the latest episodes that I added to the How Are You Feeling? podcast series. Terpenes have calming, anti-inflammatory and other benefits depending on the type. They are also a fragrant marker for foods that would be good sources of phospholipids and cannabinoids. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that we can make for ourselves when we are genetically typical, well nourished, and healthy - 'endo' - internally made,. Aging may also interfere with our ability to make complex molecules such as endocannabinoids. They are essential for many functions within the body and are found in every cell as part of the cell membranes. One of the functions of anandamide is to help with the identification and removal of damaged, infected, or old cells and old or excess cellular removal. White blood cells do the removal and the anandamide helps with the process. Part of the problem that leads to Alzheimer's dementia is a build up of excess proteins that become a tangled scar like area around cells and which can lead to death of the brain cells in the area of the protein tangles.

Quality sleep, and remaining well hydrated helps with the cleaning process as much of it occurs during sleep hours. It also helps the process to not overeat, excess calories would need to be stored as fat, taking up energy and cell activity for that process, leaving less energy and time available to remove the excess material for reuse or detoxification and removal. The excess calories and nutrients also remove any incentive to find excess material for the purpose of reusing - which is something that would occur regularly when food is less abundant.

Humans evolved when there were no refrigerators, freezers, or canned goods - feast or famine and the body has adapted to preserve calories as fat stores when there is a feast available because evolution taught our bodies that a famine would be right around the seasonal corner - whether due to a winter season or a drought season, or just in between harvest times.

Nutshell - to prevent Alzheimer's dementia it may help to have good sleep, water, and anandamide levels, and not to have an excess of calories regularly (gaining weight regularly). Intermittent fasting may help promote autophagy. The episode Intermittent Fasting - Benefits and Cautions, provides more detail, and it is the third part of the three part episode. Each section adds to the topic of Alzheimer's prevention, Hangry & Hanxious Part 2, is an overview, and NMDA Receptors & Dopamine goes into more scientific detail.

Fragrant terpene rich foods may also be good sources of phospholipids or cannabinoids which may help the body make the complex endocannabinoids, or may function as cannabinoid receptor activators. The latest episode is also in three parts. The opening section, Problem Solving and Terpenes, goes into detail about terpenes and phospholipid food sources and includes a list of conditions or symptoms that may involve a deficiency in endocannabinoids suggesting the person may need to include the complex nutrients in their diet. The second part, Problem Solving and Stress, discusses the negative effects of stress and other emotions on or problem solving and decision making skills. The third part, Forest Bathing, Terpenes and Stress Reduction, goes into more detail about forest and food sources of terpenes, and their healing benefits.

Prevention is essential, there is no known cure at this time. Two hundred medications have been trialed in animals and then didn't help in humans. Figuring out what is causing the damage is the way to change the habits that might be part of the cause - it isn't happening due to lack of 200 medications or one medication. The rate of Early-Onset Dementia and Alzheimer's Dementia in people age 30 to 64 has increased 200% in just a few years (2013-2017). The rate is much worse for women than men and the average age is 49 - this is not just a problem for Senior Citizens to be concerned about. The damage may be starting as much as twenty years prior to obvious symptoms, when approximately 90% of the hippocampus brain cells are already dead. See: "Blue Cross Plans Say Alzheimer’s Has Tripled Among Adults Ages 30 To 64"(

During normal age related forgetfulness brain cells don't die, they just lose connections between brain cells so the communication, the ability to share the memory between cells is lost. Relearning is possible when cells are still alive - that is why prevention, protecting the brain cells is so important.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. It is not intended to provide individual guidance. Please seek a health care provider for individualized health care guidance.

Links regarding 'anandamide autophagy Alzheimer's dementia' (work in progress).

I first learned of the importance of autophagy for prevention of Alzheimer's dementia indirectly, while reading a variety of other research articles, and excerpt of the summary:

  • a few take home points about real world strategies that might help protect people with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s Disease or autism – vigorous exercise regularly may help; a diet with a lower than typical balance of calories from carbohydrates versus fats and protein (30% carbohydrate calories); and occasional fasting for a day or afternoon (14) may all help the body to clear out the protein deposits that seem to collect and lead to Alzheimer’s or autism changes in the brain. From: What do daisies have to do with autism and Alzheimer’s risk?

  • The reference list and discussion leading up to the summary points is in the post prior to that one: Average Autism and Alzheimer’s Rates Differ by Gender.

Examples of what a 30% calories from carbohydrate meal plan might include for a day, with four variations see:

  • Healthy Skin – visual sign of a healing diet. - a nutrient analysis, and comparison of the nutritional value of the four variations of a similar day's food - as a list of ingredients and amount, rather than a list of a day's meals.

  • A prenatal nutrition book by Lily Nichols RDN, CDE called Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition, (2018), summarizes a wide range of research including over 900 peer review articles. Menu examples and recipes are provided for a moderately low carbohydrate diet with variations for diets with meat, vegetarian - with eggs and dairy, and vegan - no animal products. Nutrients that may be deficient in a vegan or vegetarian diet, and require supplements or focus on obtaining the few good sources regularly, are also included. This book would be a good reference for anyone, just skip over the pregnancy specific recommendations.

Sleep quality is essential for detoxification and nourishment of the brain. It literally shrinks smaller in size during sleep which allows more fluid carrying nutrients to enter the brain and then leave the brain with toxins. Metabolism, use of glucose sugar for energy, creates waste products that need to be made less toxic with antioxidants and/or be removed from the body in the fluid that moves around cells. The extracellular fluid enters the glymphatic system within the brain or the lymphatic vessels throughout the body and then is cleaned of infectious or other toxic material in the lymph nodes and then enters the blood vessels where the kidneys remove and excrete the toxins. The glymphatic system and its role in protecting against Alzheimer's dementia is described in this post:

Yes, I love roses and the rose scent of the terpene geraniol.


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