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Alzheimer's Disease and Phosphatidylserine

Read more about Phosphatidylserine.

Overview

Phosphatidylserine (PS) can help with key symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease, such as declining mental function and depression in the elderly. It is widely used for this purpose in Italy, Scandinavia, and other parts of Europe. PS has also been marketed as a "brain booster" for people of all ages, said to sharpen memory and increase thinking ability.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an essential component in all our cells; specifically, it is a major component of the cell membrane. The cell membrane is a kind of "skin" that surrounds living cells. Besides keeping cells intact, this membrane performs vital functions such as moving nutrients into cells and pumping waste products out of them. PS plays an important role in many of these functions.

Effect of Phosphatidylserine on Alzheimer's Disease

Phosphatidylserine (PS), in studies of severe mental decline, appears to have been equally effective whether the cause was Alzheimer's disease or something entirely unrelated, such as multiple small strokes. This certainly suggests that PS may have a positive impact on the brain that is not specific to any one condition. From this observation, it is not a great leap to suspect that it might be useful for much less severe problems with memory and mental function, such as those that seem to occur in nearly all of us who are older than 40. Indeed, one double-blind study did find that animal-source phosphatidylserine could improve mental function in individuals with relatively mild age-related memory loss.18 However, plant-sources PS did not show the same level of effectiveness.7,47

Research Evidence on Phosphatidylserine

Overall, the evidence for animal-source PS in dementia is fairly strong. Double-blind studies involving a total of more than 1,000 people suggest that phosphatidylserine is an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

The largest of these studies followed 494 elderly subjects in northeastern Italy over a course of 6 months.24 All suffered from moderate to severe mental decline, as measured by standard tests. Treatment consisted of either 300 mg daily of PS or placebo. The group that took PS did significantly better in both behavior and mental function than the placebo group. Symptoms of depression also improved.

These results agree with those of numerous other smaller double-blind studies involving a total of more than 500 people with Alzheimer's and other types of age-related dementia.25-32 However, all these studies involved cow-brain PS; studies of plant-source PS for dementia have not been reported.

Side Effects and Warnings

#Safety Issues

Phosphatidylserine is generally regarded as safe when used at recommended dosages. Side effects are rare, and when they do occur they usually consist of nothing much worse than mild gastrointestinal distress. ^[1] One study found that use of phosphatidylserine did not alter results on standard medical screening tests. ^[2] However, the maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.

PS is sometimes taken with ginkgo because they both appear to enhance mental function. However, some caution might be in order: Ginkgo is a "blood thinner," and PS might be one as well. PS is known to enhance the effect of heparin, a very strong prescription blood thinner. ^[3] It is possible that combined use of PS and any drug or supplement that thins the blood could interfere with normal blood clotting enough to cause problems. Some medications and supplements to consider include warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, pentoxifylline (Trental), clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), garlic, ginkgo, and vitamin E.

Keep in mind, too, that Alzheimer's disease and other types of severe age-related mental impairment are too serious to treat on your own with PS or any other supplement. In some cases, the symptoms of these diseases could be confused with symptoms of other serious conditions. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have a severe age-related mental impairment, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

#Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking:

  • Prescription blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin) , heparin , aspirin , pentoxifylline (Trental) , clopidogrel (Plavix) , or ticlopidine (Ticlid) : Do not use phosphatidylserine except on a physician's advice.
  • Ginkgo , garlic , or vitamin E : Taking phosphatidylserine at the same time might conceivably "thin" the blood too much.

References

  1. Cenacchi T, Bertoldin T, Farina C, et al. Cognitive decline in the elderly: a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study on efficacy of phosphatidylserine administration. Aging (Milano). 1993;5:123-133.
  1. Delwaide PJ, Gyselynck-Mambourg AM, Hurlet A, et al. Double-blind randomized controlled study of phosphatidylserine in senile demented patients. Acta Neurol Scand. 1986;73:136-140.
  1. Engel RR, Satzger W, Gunther W, et al. Double-blind cross-over study of phosphatidylserine vs. placebo in patients with early dementia of the Alzheimer type. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 1992;2:149-155.
  1. Nerozzi D, Aceti F, Melia E, et al. Phosphatidylserine and memory disorders in the aged [in Italian; English abstract]. Clin Ther. 1987;120:399-404.
  1. Funfgeld EW, Baggen M, Nedwidek P, et al. Double-blind study with phosphatidylserine (PS) in Parkinsonian patients with senile dementia of Alzheimer's type (SDAT). Prog Clin Biol Res. 1989;317:1235-1246.
  1. Crook T, Petrie W, Wells C, et al. Effects of phosphatidylserine in Alzheimer's disease. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1992;28:61-66.
  1. Amaducci L. Phosphatidylserine in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease: results of a multicenter study. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1988;24:130-134.
  1. Villardita C, Grioli S, Salmeri G, et al. Multicentre clinical trial of brain phosphatidylserine in elderly patients with intellectual deterioration. Clin Trials J. 1987;24:84-93.
  1. Palmieri G, Palmieri R, Inzoli MR, et al. Double-blind controlled trial of phosphatidylserine in patients with senile mental deterioration. Clin Trials J. 1987;24:73-83.
  1. Cenacchi T, Bertoldin T, Farina C, et al. Cognitive decline in the elderly: a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study on efficacy of phosphatidylserine administration. Aging(Milano). 1993;5:123-133.
  1. Amaducci L. Phosphatidylserine in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: Results of a multicenter study. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1988;24:130-134.
  1. Crook T, Petrie W, Wells C, et al. Effects of phosphatidylserine in Alzheimer’s disease. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1992;28:61-66.
  1. Delwaide PJ, Gyselynck-Mambourg AM, Hurlet A, et al. Double-blind randomized controlled study of phosphatidylserine in senile demented patients. Acta Neurol Scand. 1986;73:136-140.
  1. Engel RR, Satzger W, Gunther W, et al. Double-blind cross-over study of phosphatidylserine vs. placebo in patients with early dementia of the Alzheimer type. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 1992;2:149-155.
  1. Funfgeld EW, Baggen M, Nedwidek P, et al. Double-blind study with phosphatidylserine (PS) in Parkinsonian patients with senile dementia of Alzheimer’s type (SDAT). Prog Clin Biol Res. 1989;317:1235-1246.
  1. Nerozzi D, Aceti F, Melia E, et al. Phosphatidylserine and memory disorders in the aged [in Italian; English abstract]. Clin Ther. 1987;120:399-404.
  1. Palmieri G, Palmieri R, Inzoli MR, et al. Double-blind controlled trial of phosphatidylserine in patients with senile mental deterioration. Clin Trials J. 1987;24:73-83.
  1. Villardita C, Grioli S, Salmeri G, et al. Multicentre clinical trial of brain phosphatidylserine in elderly patients with intellectual deterioration. Clin Trials J. 1987;24:84-93.

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