This recent study aggregates data from observations and studies for over 25 years showing a correlation between Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and Alzheimer’s Disease. Why is this of interest? Most of the U.S, population has acquired the Herpes Simplex Virus, Type 1, and, still another majority, Type 2, and there is evidence to believe Type 2 as well as Herpes Zoster (good ol’ “Chicken Pox”) may also play a role in developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
Herpes & Dementia’s Link
The above referenced article is comprehensive and leaves no doubt that Herpes infections lead to an over two and a half times increased risk of senile dementia (a broader category of cognitive deficit that includes Alzheimer’s Disease), but also, that treatment can decrease risk of acquisition of senile dementia by over tenfold! That’s impressive, to say the least, and, given that we currently have no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, it seems prudent to do what we can to prevent it.
“Treatment of Herpes can decrease risk of dementia by tenfold!”
How to treat Herpes
There are many theories as to the cause of Alzheimer’s Disease, and with them, theories for treatment. This study shows, however, very clearly that certainly one form of prevention – in those infected with a herpes virus (most of us) – is the use of a herpes antiviral drug, and, possibly, with the inclusion of an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory). The best absorbed and most effective herpes antiviral appears to be valacyclovir, and the NSAID used effectively in the studies, Celecoxib (“Celebrex”).
In addition, we know that anything that reduces the strength of the immune system, or, more specifically, anything that allows the herpes virus to become active, is not beneficial. So, too much “stress”, not enough rest, overtraining, eating improperly, etc. would all contribute to the herpes virus damaging the brain, especially at or after middle age (when we often see the beginnings of a decline in immune function).
Another approach would, of course, be to do those things that could strengthen the immune system, or, perhaps better put, keep it as healthy and strong as it can be given our age (a more positive spin) such as eating or supplementing with sufficient antioxidants, engaging in stress reducing activities, regular moderate exercise, etc.
One supplement we know that tends to contribute to keeping the herpes virus at bay is an amino acid, L-lysine. Another amino acid we know that tends to promote the herpes virus is L-arginine.
Dr. Rand’s Recommendation
For anyone who knows he or she has any of the herpes viruses, I would recommend to use a prophylactic dose of valacyclovir (“Valtrex) (500mg by mouth each day). Adding an NSAID prophylactically is NOT prudent because of the side effects that can occur with their use including gastrointestinal and kidney damage. However, their use during an outbreak seems prudent, especially if accompanied by pain and/or fever.
The other lifestyle considerations are a “no-brainer” (pun intended) to include because of all the other potential benefits to general health and well-being acquired therefrom. And, for those who do not want to use a “drug” as prophylaxis for any reason, there is evidence showing that taking 1 gram of L-lysine three times per day can effectively prevent as well as treat herpes outbreaks.