Reversing Alzheimer's with Coffee*

Researchers at the University of South Florida recently published a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease indicating that caffeine may be effective in reversing the memory impairments that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. While these research results are exciting, further study is necessary given that the results were observed in mice and not people (hence the*in the title above). The researchers experimented with 55 mice who were genetically altered to develop memory problems similar to Alzheimer’s disease as the aged. Behavioral and learning tasks then confirmed that the aging mice were indeed exhibiting memory difficulties. At this point, the researchers gave half the mice water and the other half the equivalent of five 8 ounce cups of regular coffee a day.

Two months later, behavioral and learning tasks showed that the mice who were given caffeine returned to their normal memory functioning. The mice that had consumed water, on the other hand, had continued to deteriorate.

Interestingly, mice who were not genetically pre-destined to develop Alzheimer’s type memory difficulties, did not experience beneficial memory effects from consuming caffeine.

The researchers concluded that coffee may help reverse the memory difficulties associated with Alzheimer’s, although coffee does not help improve the memory of people without it.

Further research is necessary to find out if this “caffeine–memory effect” works with humans who have a true Alzheimer’s condition. The researchers are excited given the prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease and the fact that caffeine is a relatively benign drug.

You can read more about the study here.

Alzheimer's Disease is so pervasive that most people have or will have to deal with it at some time in their lives. Nearly half of all people aged 85 and older are affected. This is typically our aging parents or grandparents. In these circumstances it is often difficult to help children understand what is happening. The book highlighted above, "Allie Learns About Alzheimer's Disease" can help parents talk with their children in a sensitive and meaningful way.

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