Reversing Alzheimer’s Disease
How Savannah’s own Dr. Mary Kay Ross connected toxins to alzheimer's and collaborated with Dr. Dale Bredesen to reverse the disease in a groundbreaking medical program.
The trauma center of Savannah’s Memorial Hospital provided Mary Kay Ross, MD, FACEP with unfiltered access to the repercussions of toxic environmental exposures as presented in her hundreds of patients. Varying severities of obesity, diabetes, depression and heart problems entered Dr. Ross’s emergency room where each illness’ roots revealed shared symptoms across the board. After countless cases, Dr. Ross discovered a common denominator to this consistent parade of chronic health issues: each one was preventable.
“What we do every day becomes our exposure,” Dr. Ross explains one Saturday morning in her Santa Monica office. “Functional medicine came about because people realized our current medical model doesn’t answer the ever-growing problem of chronic disease. The pill for the ill is not the way to go for people who are chronically ill. Lifestyle choices are really important when you consider that.”
The protocol that she uses with patients stems from world-renowned neurologist Dr. Dale Bredesen. Dr. Bredesen has been researching Alzheimer’s disease for the past 30 years.
In his book, “The End of Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Bredesen divides the different types of cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease into five distinct types. Type 1 is inflammatory, Type 1.5 is glycotoxic or “diabetes of the brain,” Type 2 is trophic due to loss of sex hormones or thyroid regulation, Type 3 is the Toxic one (the hardest to treat), Type 4 is vascular and Type 5 is traumatic.
Dr. Ross is an expert when it comes to Type 3. “This is where I come in” she says. This is what brought her and Dr. Bredesen together. “Type 3 is toxic, and that’s really something that I specialize in, because of my experience and extensive training.”
Alzheimer’s occurs due to old age, but how do you define age?” The truth of this arrives at how our lifetime of exposures builds and eventually spills over “our tipping factor,” signaling serious health concerns.
She states, “This problem is just too important to ignore... we as a medical community should be able to do better than over 400 failed drug trials or a treatment plan with no evidence of efficacy.” Sadly, if you go to a specialist today you will be given the diagnosis, a pill and a pat on the back - they will tell you, “see you back in six months and get your affairs in order.” Dr. Ross feels that this is unacceptable and that we need to look more for the root cause of the disease. She states, “This disease is not from one cause and we need to realize that there are many causes just as cancer is from many causes.”
The key, she says, is to look for the root causes of illness and not just the diagnosis.
This philosophy inspired her clinic, The Institute for Personalized Medicine, at 3 Johnston Street, Savannah, GA 31405. Her belief in harnessing proactivity with preventative care to stop and even reverse the progression of many chronic diseases has attracted thousands of patients through her door, but it is her collaboration with Dr. Bredesen that has the world of medicine enthralled.
More Than Mold
Dr. Ross’s past is rooted deeply in emergency medicine. As a board- certified emergency room physician, she has been on the faculty of several medical schools and residency programs teaching students and residents. She transitioned from emergency medicine to her current practice at the Institute for Personalized Medicine (IPM) so that she could focus on functional medicine and the art of healing patients after she herself succumbed to several life-altering chronic illnesses. She has continued her pursuit of education and training in an effort to understand the ever-growing problem plaguing our population.
Autoimmune thyroid disease, psoriatic arthritis, a heart condition taking her to the Cath lab and chronic respiratory illness suddenly interrupted her and her husband Stephen’s routines circa 2012. “Suddenly,” because all of her symptoms seemingly came out of nowhere.
“I became ill and developed autoimmune issues and all kinds of other things that ended up being related to my environment in my home,” she says. “It became so bad, I almost had to go on disability.”
Unbeknownst to her and Stephen, their home had become infested with mold, and their exposure to it triggered a domino effect of health problems. The day they identified the culprit of their illnesses, Dr. Ross, Stephen, and Eli did not return home. For a year and a half, they lived in an RV on Skidaway Island and have been out of their home for three years.
With the help of functional medicine, Dr. Ross recovered from her mold- induced health problems by avoiding all drugs, reversing her symptoms almost as soon as she and her husband left their home. She subsequently started studying the effects of environmental toxins and how they increase the risk for chronic illness, including Alzheimer’s.
This led to her introduction to Dr. Dale Bredesen. “I saw him give grand rounds at Cleveland Clinic back in early 2016, and it was about reversal of Alzheimer’s. What got me was he had written a paper about ‘Inhalational Alzheimer’s,’ about mold-exposure and how it can cause Alzheimer’s.”
At the time, Dr. Ross did not have an office in Santa Monica. Nonetheless, she was hooked and convinced she desired to work with Dr. Bredesen somehow.
After watching his webinar, Dr. Ross commented to her husband she would love to work with Dr. Bredesen. Stephen replied, “How would that work? He’s in California and you’re in Georgia.”
The very next day, Dr. Ross received a call from a South Carolina patient wanting to schedule an appointment for lab tests. She couldn’t believe her ears when the patient and her husband informed her the blood tests were for Dr. Bredesen. What followed included not only a cross-country connection but a groundbreaking case study that would merge Dr. Dale Bredesen’s protocol working with Dr. Ross’s functional approach and her fascination with the relationship between environmental toxins and Alzheimer’s.
10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's 1 Memory loss that disrupts daily life 2 New problems with words in speaking or writing 3 Challenges in planning or solving problems 4 Withdrawal from work or social activities 5 Decreased or poor judgment 6 Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps 7 Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure 8 Confusion with time or place 9 Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships 10 Changes in mood and personality
Reversing a Death Sentence
The South Carolina patient saw Dr. Bredesen in California and returned to Dr. Ross for further labs.
“When she came back to see me, I ordered some labs Dr. Bredesen had not ordered because they weren’t in his current protocol. I discovered she, too, had a mold exposure along with thyroid problems to mention a few. They ended up having to have extensive remediation done on their home.”
The patient was a 60-year-old female who was an orthopedic nurse practitioner. Her mother was dying of Alzheimer’s when the patient was initially seen.
“For three years prior, she had felt like she was having memory problems, and everybody kind of dismissed it,” says Dr. Ross. “She was proactive and actually had a quantitative MRI done to look at her hippocampal volumes prior to seeking treatment. Everything was normal on the initial MRI. Within that year, she seemed to have a steady decline. Her husband brought her to myself and to [Bredesen] and in analyzing her history and doing deep dive, I realized that she had some exposures to mold and Lyme disease as well.”
“You make sure your patient is not in an exposure or an environment that’s making them sick or fueling that fire. Once you have put that out and you’ve removed everything, you almost build a scaffolding around that patient to hold them up and support them.”
“It’s a huge program,” Dr. Ross says, placing her marker down and pausing to sip her coffee. “In our new clinic that we’re going to build on the west coast, the front waiting room will have a teaching kitchen, because food is really important; it’s our biggest exposure.”
Nearly two years after the South Carolina patient started the program, Dr. Ross reports, “She’s not perfect, and she probably will never be perfect, because when she initially came to see me, her disease was fairly progressed. I have no doubt that she would not be doing as well as she is today without this program. Alzheimer’s disease without intervention does not stop its progression. This is multimodal therapy, so I spend a tremendous amount of time with each of my patients, teaching and coaching - it takes a great deal of time.”
The patient’s improvement under Dr. Ross’s care impressed Dr. Bredesen so much, he invited her to train with him in California. Dr. Ross became Dr. Bredesen’s Chief Medical Officer. Together they traveled across the globe lecturing and educating fellow physicians about their program while also co-treating patients. Their partnership was a wonderful blend of science and research coupled with experienced clinical expertise.
“Currently, I’ve treated more of Dr. Bredesen’s patients than anybody in the world and I’ve had wonderful success. I actually have a patient who just got her driver’s license returned to her in California. She had it removed for her Alzheimer’s diagnosis so they’ve in effect reversed her diagnosis. This is huge; I have never heard of this happening before. I also have a psychiatrist in New York City, completely reversed.”
Dr. Ross and Dr Bredesen are currently co-authoring a paper on her work with Type 3 Alzheimer’s which is slated for publication soon. As one of the top ten deadliest diseases, Alzheimer’s continues to present obstacles for a definite cure, but hope and healing endure through Dr. Ross’s invaluable insight into the fight against this epidemic.
“This is a huge problem and the program absolutely works. However, there is a lot more that needs to be done”
For more information, contact the Institute for Personalized Medicine in Savannah, Georgia (912.352.1234) or in Santa Monica, California (310.954.2884) or go to instituteforpersonalizedmedicine.com •