By Sarah A LoBisco, ND

Recently, a new major health concern amongst the aging baby boomers is emerging. It isn’t heart disease, or diabetes, or even cancer; it’s the fear of losing their mental capacities. Current health statistics are portraying that the number of those affected with age-related dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease, continues to climb. According to the Alzheimer’s Association:

• Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and the 5th leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older.

• Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent, cure, or even slow its progression.

Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 66 percent between 2000 and 2008, while deaths from other major diseases, including the number one cause of death (heart disease), decreased.

Conventionally accepted medical risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include age, environmental toxins, and genetics (i.e. the presence of Amyloid precursor protein (APP), Presenilin-1 (PS-1), Presenilin-2 (PS-2), or Apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE4)). The treatment for Alzheimer’s seems to be bleak if one is looking for a cure or relief. In fact, I just recently posted an article by Dr. Mercola, included in my June Top Reads, which provided just how sobering the picture of from the latest drug treatments available for Alzheimer’s is. 

It is enough to make one feel helpless and hopeless and quite frankly, freaked out! The implications of living in a body without being able to enjoy it can have a severe impact not just on the sufferer but on all who love and care about him/her. However, there is hope!! It all comes down to one word: nutrigenomics! Nutrigenomics is the science of using nutritional factors to modify gene expression. Genetics are not our destiny. There are powerful lifestyle factors within our control to modulate and prevent the progression of various chronic diseases.  In other words, there is much an individual can do to boost brain power.

I’ve written many blogs on how to protect your brain and treat it with love and respect. Many of you are aware of my belief in Dr. Amen’s work and how his nutritional and integrative protocols have created biochemical changes in the brain, which have been displayed via PET scans! Dr. Amen treats the individual and bases his work on the individual’s brain, not the label of the brain’s dysfunction! Truly a Naturopathic & Functional approach with a concentrated brain twist! J

By empowering oneself with healthy tools for the mind and body, we can use address factors in our control to slow down the physiological aging process. Specific nutrients can be used to calm the underlying factors of inflammatory changes in the brain through diet , lifestyle, and supplements. We can also take in and get rid of those things which cause excessive oxidative stress and free radicals in our body.

The good news is that one of the most effective treatments for anti-aging is free and feels good—exercise! Another major nutrient (yes, some argue we need exercise as much as vitamins!) studied for brain health is fish oil.

Fish oil, is a natural anti-inflammatory that has also been shown to exhibit antioxidant potential. One study even reported its effect on the apo-e gene via antioxidant activity!

In the present study, FO reduced the formation of atherosclerotic lesions in the aortic arteries of apoE?/? mice not through any lipid-lowering effect. The protective role of FO in the development of atherosclerosis may result from its antioxidative defense mechanism through the induction of antioxidant enzyme activities.

In fact, even conventional medicine is modulating inflammation via anti-inflammatory drugs have to decrease brain pathologies. A study done in Neurology reports:

Background: Neuroinflammation may contribute to the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease (PD). Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) in general, and possibly ibuprofen in particular, has been shown to be related to lower PD risk in previous epidemiologic studies.

Conclusions: The association between use of ibuprofen and lower PD risks, not shared by other NSAIDs or acetaminophen, suggests ibuprofen should be further investigated as a potential neuroprotective agent against PD.

The good news about using fish oil vs. NSAIDs, is that there isn’t the side effect of gastrointestinal bleeding or heart disease.

According to Dr. Mercola, astaxanthin in krill oil boosts the anti-inflammatory and brain protecting fish oil effect with added antioxidant power.

Astaxanthin exhibits exceptionally potent free-radical scavenging activity, and protects your cells, organs and body tissues from oxidative damage. In this way it impacts many aspects of health, but one of the most exciting could be its impact on your brain. In fact it is hundreds of times more effective than vitamin E in squelching singlet oxygen free radicals.

People with dementia tend to accumulate abnormal levels of phospholipid hydroperoxides (PLOOH) in their red blood cells. But new research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that taking 6 mg or 12 mg of astaxanthin daily for 12 weeks lowered blood levels of PLOOH by 40 and 50 percent, respectively.

Researchers concluded that the improved antioxidant status and decreased PLOOH levels in the red blood cells may contribute to the prevention of dementia.

Astaxanthin is a fat soluble nutrient and readily crosses your blood-brain barrier, and a past study found it may help prevent neurodegeneration associated with oxidative stress as well as make a potent natural brain food.

Another antioxidant that may be beneficial for preventing dementia in the brain is coQ10. In a 2010 study with mice, the reduced form of coQ10 was able to decelerate aging through nutrigenomic effects on fat assimilation, lipid metabolism, cholesterol synthesis, and inflammation pathways via the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha.

There are many other things to consider with brain health (see comment below), but the above is a good start to keep you on the healthy path to a young brain!

What’s the connection with the skin? Well, according to Dr. Amen, psychiatrist,

Numerous scientific studies have confirmed fish oil is beneficial for the brain and the skin.  It appears to help limit the damage of radiation from the sun, give skin a younger appearance and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

The link of fish oil to healthy skin is not new. A 1988 study in the lancet showed supplementation with fish oil showed lessening of itching, erythema, and scaling in those with psoriasis vs. a placebo group using olive oil. Furthermore, an abstract from the Archives of Dermatology reports:

Deficiency of essential fatty acid (EFA) containing linoleic acid (18:2n-6) in humans or animals induces morphologic changes characterized by severe scaly dermatosis, extensive percutaneous water loss, and hyperproliferation of the epidermis.

As far as antioxidants, Medscape reports on the skin and eye benefits of carotenoids, a weaker antioxidant potential than krill’s asaxanthin:

Conclusions: Carotenoids used as nutritional supplements seem to play an interesting photoprotective role for both skin and eyes, eventually increasing the activity of topical sunscreens.

So, we’re thinking and looking good. Now, keep that emotional health happy by using essential oils, which cross the blood brain barrier and oxygenate your brain for better focus and modulating inflammation and oxidative damage. They also keep summer pests away! Read on my Saratoga Blog….


Alzheimer’s Association. 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. 

Osterweil, N.  Alzheimer’s Prevalence Tops Five Million in U.S.,MedPage Today: March 20, 2007. Gao,Honglei Chen,Michael A. Schwarzschild, MD, PhD & Alberto Ascherio,.Use of ibuprofen and risk of Parkinson disease (Abstract). Neurology. 2011 Mar 8;76(10):863-9. Epub 2011 Mar 2.Anthony A. Bavry, et al. Harmful Effects of NSAIDs among Patients with Hypertension and Coronary Artery Disease(abstract) The American Journal of Medicine Volume 124, Issue 7 , Pages 614-620, July 2011.

Dr. Mercola: June 28, 2011. Flush These “Dementia Markers” Out of Your Blood Stream

Nakagawa K, Kiko T, Miyazawa T, Carpentero Burdeos G, Kimura F, Satoh A, Miyazawa T. Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin on phospholipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jun;105(11):1563-71. PMID: 21276280

Schmelzer C, Kubo H, Mori M, Sawashita J, Kitano M, Hosoe K, Boomgaarden I, Döring F, Higuchi K. Supplementation with the reduced form of Coenzyme Q10 decelerates phenotypic characteristics of senescence and induces a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha gene expression signature in SAMP1 mice (abstract). Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Jun;54(6):805-15.

Hsueh-Hsiao Wanga, Tzu-Ming Hunga, Jeng Weib, An-Na Chiang. Fish Oil increases antioxidant enzyme activities in macrophages and reduces atherosclerotic lesions in apoE-knockout mice. Cardiovasc Res (2004) 61 (1): 169-176. doi: 10.1016/j.cardiores.2003.11.002.

Amen, D. The Brain-Skin Connection. Dr. Amen’s Blog. June 28, 2009.

“Brain Aging: The Truth is Skin Deep” by Dr. Douglas Fields, June 17, 2011

S.B. Bittiner a, I. Cartwright b, W.F.G. Tucker a, S.S. Bleehen a. A DOUBLE-BLIND, RANDOMISED, PLACEBO-CONTROLLED TRIAL OF FISH OIL IN PSORIASIS. The Lancet, Volume 331, Issue 8582, Pages 378 – 380, 20 February 1988. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(88)91181-6 

Ziboh VA, Chapkin RS.Biologic significance of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the skin. Arch Dermatol. 1987 Dec;123(12):1686a-1690. 

Pierfrancesco Morganti, PhD; Giuseppe Fabrizi, MD; Cesare Bruno. Protective Effects of Oral Antioxidants on Skin and Eye Functio. Medscape Today. Posted: 12/17/2004


Skin Deep:

Cinnamon oil kills mosquitoes. Eurekalert. June 16, 2004. 

DEET Insect Repellent Toxicity. UTOX Update. Utah Poison Control Center. Vol. 7, Issue 2. 2005.

Toxicity Information on DEET:


Dr. Sarah LoBisco

Sarah LoBisco, ND is a graduate of the UBCNM in Bridgeport, CT. She is licensed in Vermont State and holds a BA in psychology from SUNY Geneseo. She is a contributing item writer for the NABNE and has had published several articles. Dr. LoBisco is also a speaker on integrative medical topics for medical professionals. Recently, she has completed the Applied Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice coursework which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).


Dr. LoBisco currently has a private integrative medical consulting practice in Ballston Spa, NY where she incorporates Naturopathic, Functional, and Conventional medicine, along with her training in essential oils, herbs, whole food supplements, mind-body medicine and psychology to form an integrated approach to each individual client. Her recent blogs, along with various resources and references and information on her clinic can be found at and She is also a featured expert at

Dr. Sarah LoBisco


Fax: 518-885-9145