Inflammation, Pain, and Alzheimer’s Disease: Condition-based care

Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that we should try to prevent, not only for ourselves, but also for our families.  Patients with Alzheimer’s disease lose cognitive function, emotional expression and memory, which essentially prevents them from experiencing the spice of life.

It is no surprise to read that most patients enter a chiropractor’s office looking for relief from various conditions, the most common among them being back pain, neck pain, and headache.  During the history taking process, we typically discover that such patients derive some relief from taking ibuprofen or similar anti-inflammatory drugs, which act to inhibit the synthesis of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids, such as prostaglandin E2 and thromboxane A2.  Such inhibition results in less activation of nociceptors and, therefore, less pain.

Before 1990, researchers knew that anti-inflammatory drugs could prevent Alzheimer’s disease.  McGreer1 stated that, “immunohistochemical evidence points to a chronic inflammatory state of the brain in Alzheimer’s disease, and data suggests that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in patients with rheumatoid arthritis is unexpectedly low and that anti-inflammatory therapy might be the explanation.”  This relationship between anti-inflammatory drugs and Alzheimer’s is now well established and has led researchers to search for natural alternatives that do not possess the serious side effects so common with long term use of drugs like ibuprofen.

As it turns out, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in elderly folks in India over the age of eighty is only 4%, compared to 15.7% here in the states.2   Frautschy, et al., from UCLA, suggest that the liberal intake of turmeric may be the reason for this significant difference in Alzheimer’s prevalence.2  It was determined that turmeric is both a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that is capable of inhibiting prostaglandin E2 and other pro-inflammatory substances.2. Bucci explains that turmeric is effective in reducing musculoskeletal aches and pains, and can even be as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs.3

I spoke with Frautschy, and she explained that ginger may be even more potent than turmeric.  Ginger has also proven itself to be effective in reducing the pains associated with muscle injury, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis thought to be a result of inhibition of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid synthesis.4

Prostaglandin E2 causes pain and promotes Alzheimer’s disease.  Supplements such ginger and turmeric can help our patients with aches and pains, and provide a nutritional adjustment.  When taken long term, such supplements may be able to prevent dreaded chronic inflammatory conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.  I, personally, drink homemade ginger tea, add powdered ginger to my meals and, when I am not doing either of these, I take ginger supplements.  I suggest that you and your patients do the same.

More on Alzheimer’s in the next issue of TAC.  Stay on the lookout. TAC



  1. McGreer P. Anti-inflammatory drugs and Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet 1990; 335: 1037.
  2. Frautschy SA et al. Phenolic ant-inflammatory antioxidant reversal of A-induced cognitive deficits and neuropathology. Neurobiol Aging 2001; 22: 993-1005.
  3. Bucci L. Nutrition for sports injuries and rehabilitation. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 1995.
  4. Srivistava KC, Mustafa T. Ginger in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders. Med Hypoth 1992; 39: 342-48.

Dr. Seaman is the Clinical Chiropractic Consultant for Anabolic Laboratories, one of the first supplement manufacturers to service the chiropractic profession. He is on the faculty of Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida and on the postgraduate faculties of several other chiropractic colleges, providing nutrition seminars that focus on the needs of the chiropractic patient. Dr. Seaman believes that chiropractors should be thinking like chiropractors, while providing nutritional recommendations. Doctors and patients who follow his programs report improved feelings of well-being, weight loss, dramatic increases in energy, and significant pain reduction. Dr. Seaman can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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