A small pilot study was performed at the University of Washington in Seattle that looked at people with early onset Alzheimer’s. The results showed that insulin administered through the nasal passage might provide some relief from the disease. In an encouraging trial, 100 people with recent onset Alzheimer’s were tested using a blind study. One group was given the insulin spray every day for around four months and the control group did not receive the hormone. The patients that that received the hormone showed improvement in both memory and brain function.
Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for the metabolism of sugar in our bodies. The breakdown of food into sugar is responsible for our energy levels. Studies have shown that people with impaired brain function such as is exhibited in Alzheimer’s dementia also suffer from abnormal glucose function as well. The theory is that the disease actually prevents the insulin from acting on the glucose properly and inhibiting the proper amount into the brain causing the cognitive issues.
Nasal Insulin is not yet ready for patient use as symptom relief or as a cure for Alzheimer’s sufferers. There are a few things that have to occur before inhaled insulin becomes standardized treatment. Insulin is an extremely potent hormone that regulates the blood sugar levels for the body. If a patient does not suffer from increased blood glucose levels, the result of extra insulin in the body can result in dangerously low blood sugar levels which can have serious consequences. Alzheimer’s disease is a complex process that involves more than just impaired glucose function. Alzheimer’s is affected by heredity, brain trauma, multiple concussions, high blood pressure, obesity and the list goes on.
Science has to determine how to capitalize on the evidence of the connection between Alzheimer’s and impaired glucose function. Physicians are going to have to continue to study the interaction between cognitive function, Alzheimer’s and the ability of the body’s insulin to process glucose properly. Once the processes have been studied and the negative effects insulin can have on a non-diabetic person are fully realized, then testing can be performed. Understanding by the scientific community of the relationship between the actions of nasal insulin on the cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients is good news that progress towards a cure is being made.