We are always looking for something new and something better. What’s the newest invention? What’s the newest discovery? Where’s the answer that’s going to change my world! It’s that constant and never ending hope that propels our search. The need for 100% is necessary. While we should always have gratitude for the things we have, it is important to also dream for more.
It’s with this unwavering persistence that I was excited when I ran across research on a supplement called Trehalose. While it has been researched since 1925 as a disaccharide, only in the past decade has research entered the realm of how it helps the brain.
The body is in a constant process of healing. If you cut yourself, the blood clots, and after a week the skin grows back. It looks like it never happened. If the damage is consistent or severe, you scar. The body builds stronger cells in that location to prevent future damage. When you wear new shoes that don’t fit right, you get a blister, and if you keep wearing them, you might get a callous. The body knows that trauma is coming, and works to protect itself.
The same thing happens in the brain. When there is inflammation, when there is oxidation, when there is damage, the brain attempts to protect itself. It forms scar tissue as well, but we have given it a special name – Amyloid Plaques. These are the same amyloid plaques you’ve heard of in association with Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques prevent the neurons in the brain from functioning. They interfere with memory, learning, and development.
We are concerned with memory, learning, and development for our children. Could it be that the same scar tissue affecting our parents and grandparents are also affecting our children? More and more scientific research confirms that this is true. Amyloid plaques are found in the brains of many people, of any age, that have problems with memory and learning. This includes people with diagnoses of autism, Down syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.
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The great thing is that now we can do something about it! If you’ve been waiting for the next best thing to come around, wait no longer. The research started in 2004 showing that Trehalose supports the body’s natural ability to remove amyloid plaques from the brain. The brain itself has the ability to digest these plaques with lysozomes. These are little Pac-Mans of our cells that destroy anything we don’t want. Technically, Trehalose maintains healthy amyloid plaque levels by acting as an mTOR-independent autophagy enhancer. That’s a lot of big words, but basically means that Trehalose is the fuel for the brain to do its job of removing plaques that cause problems.
Research is interesting on the potential effects on memory and learning. Since most research focuses on patients with Alzheimer’s, I ran a pilot trial in my office on 10 children and after 45 days saw 10-15% improvement in all areas of the ATEC evaluation (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist). While more research needs to be performed, the possibilities are encouraging.
This article was featured in Issue 38 – Keeping ASD Kids Healthy