He Unveiled A Medical Mystery And Discovered A Potential Alzheimer’s Solution In A Simple Amino Acid

Thought Co

For over a decade, pharmaceutical companies have invested billions into drug trials aiming to treat Alzheimer’s disease, yet progress remains elusive. Amidst these challenges, Dr. Paul Cox has potentially uncovered a neuroprotective compound with promising early-stage results, found not in a lab, but right on our dinner plates.

This discovery stems from his investigation into the unusually high rates of neurodegenerative diseases on Guam, where, in the 1990s, cases of ALS and Alzheimer’s-like symptoms were 120% higher than the global average.

Dr. Cox, an ethnobotanist, embarked on a mission to solve this mystery. He found that cyanobacteria, organisms responsible for producing green algae, were releasing a natural toxin called BMAA into the environment. This toxin infiltrated the seeds of local trees, which were then consumed by flying fox bats, a dietary staple for the island’s inhabitants.

As these bats were then consumed by flying fox bats, a dietary staple for the island’s inhabitants. As these bats were hunted and eaten by the locals, the BMAA toxin accumulated in their bodies, leading to widespread neurodegenerative disease.

Dr. Cox shared that “every family” he spoke to had experienced deaths linked to these conditions. In 2003, he revealed his findings to the world.

Dr. Cox told CNN in a mini-documentary. He clarified that while cyanobacteria might not directly cause Alzheimer’s, it could be a significant “risk factor.”

Driven to understand and mitigate the toxic effects of BMAA, Dr. Cox conducted a trial through his non-profit organization, the Brain Chemistry Labs at the Institute for Ethnomedicine in Jackson. His research yielded a significant finding: when monkeys were given BMAA along with an amino acid called L-serine, the neurotoxic effects of BMAA were reduced by 85%.

L-serine is an unremarkable yet essential part of our diet, classified as a non-essential amino acid. It forms part of the protein content labeled on food products as ‘protein’ and is present in various foods such as eggs, meat, edamame, tofu, seaweed, and sweet potatoes.

Given the dramatic protective effect of L-serine observed in his trials with monkeys, Dr. Cox presented his findings to the FDA and initiated clinical trials to explore the potential of L-serine as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Interestingly, Dr. Cox’s background is not in neurology but in ethnobotany, which studies the ways human cultures use plants for medicinal purposes. His unique perspective led him to Okinawa, a ‘Blue Zone’ renowned for the longevity of its residents.

In the village of Ogimi, he discovered that the inhabitants consumed approximately 400% more L-serine than the average American. This observational data, coupled with his lab findings, bolstered Dr. Cox’s confidence in L-serine’s potential.

Currently, Dr. Cox is conducting a placebo-controlled trial with Alzheimer’s patients supplementing their diets with L-serine. He believes that this simple amino acid, readily available in many common foods, could emerge as the first effective off-the-shelf treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. His research holds promise not only for those suffering from Alzheimer’s but also for a broader understanding of how dietary components can influence neurodegenerative conditions.

Watch a mini-documentary on the subject from CNN to learn more about this groundbreaking research and its implications for the future of Alzheimer’s treatment.