July 21, 2022
An Open Letter to Dr. Hellmuth
By Julie Gregory, Chief Health Liaison for Apollo Health
Dear Dr. Hellmuth,
As an Alzheimer’s activist representing a large community of people genetically at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, I’ve been following your career with fascination. From what I’ve been able to glean, you’re a young neurologist and assistant professor at UCSF with a primary focus on HIV, yet you’ve positioned yourself as a “champion of the people” and authority on Alzheimer’s disease with numerous publications critiquing the Bredesen Protocol®. Some are thinly veiled, such as The Rise of Pseudomedicine for Dementia and Brain Health, whereas others are outright attacks full of misinformation, such as Pricey Protocol Not Proven to Prevent or Reverse Alzheimer’s Disease. My hope is that you have a sincere interest in protecting our patient population, but I worry that your primary motivation may be a bit different.
You may not be aware that your areas of interest bridge two seemingly diverse patient groups that share many things in common. You were probably very young in the early 1980s when healthy, young men inexplicably began to die — slow, painful deaths — from what would eventually be recognized as AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It was a very frightening time for everyone. We didn’t understand how the virus (HIV) that resulted in AIDS was transmitted, and everyone was afraid. By 1985, over 6,000 patients had succumbed, but the medical community had nothing — no effective treatment, and only one private pharmaceutical company was even pursuing a drug candidate. By early 1987, the death toll topped 40,000 victims in the US alone, while the worldwide infection rate was estimated to be close to 10 million. And yet, the medical community still had nothing to offer. Business as usual was not addressing this international health crisis. Sound familiar?
It wasn’t until patient activists began to demand that medical research be conducted in a fundamentally different way that things began to change. By forging an authentic partnership with the decision-makers (physicians, researchers, pharmaceutical corporations, the FDA, NIH, etc.) who were essentially blocking progress, they ultimately paved the way for a treatment that is keeping millions of HIV-infected people alive today.
There are almost five times as many people living with Alzheimer’s in the US than are living with HIV, and we have waited a really long time for an effective treatment … and we are beyond outraged. We may not have the youthful enthusiasm and energy that the early AIDS activists used to bring attention to their plight, but our anger and will to live are fueling us to work just as diligently to find our own cure. And, yes, we are facing the same roadblocks that the early HIV pioneers encountered.
Yet, you and your colleagues have worked very hard to maintain the 100% ineffective status quo that has not found a treatment for Alzheimer’s in 116 years. You’ve additionally kept up a steady stream of criticism of the one approach that is yielding success for our population without expressing even a little bit of scientific curiosity, all in the guise of “protecting” us.
You don’t have to school us on how the scientific method is supposed to work; we already understand, and we have seen time after time that this process has not worked with this disease. Trialing one intervention at a time against a multifactorial disease is unlikely ever to prove effective. Through our own self-experimentation, we’ve seen repeatedly that this protocol works, and our own observations have been confirmed by repeated publications and a recent proof-of-concept clinical trial, with plans underway for a larger randomized controlled trial.
When members of our community identify and address the actual contributors to our disease process (insulin resistance, sleep apnea, inflammation, etc.) while using dietary and lifestyle strategies to provide optimal support for our brains, our cognition improves. When we stray, it worsens. It’s not a cure, but it’s far and away the most effective treatment we have for now, and it has been documented to reverse decline sustainably in many.
I’m stunned at the lack of attention our successful approach has garnered. I don’t want to believe that the Alzheimer’s research community is more wed to a failed hypothesis, profiteering through Big Pharma, securing grants and tenure than it is to truly help an enormous community of people suffering from Alzheimer’s (and pre-Alzheimer’s), yet that is exactly what I see. We won’t find an effective treatment until practicing physicians, researchers, and policy-makers stop protecting their turf and start protecting their patients.
I want to believe that you sincerely care and are trying to be helpful, but your repeated attempted takedowns of the Bredesen Protocol belie that motivation. It must be very frustrating to treat patients with cognitive decline who repeatedly ask for your help with the Bredesen Protocol. How dare they ask for an experimental treatment for a progressive, fatal disease! They should be content with your patronage and prescription for an ineffective pill that makes you feel better, but that will ultimately hasten their decline. [i]
Those of us at risk for and living with this disease don’t have time for business as usual. We’re caring for our affected loved ones while fighting for our own lives. We’re grateful for Dr. Bredesen’s pioneering science, his constant search for answers, his ability to persevere despite your attacks, and most of all, his willingness to authentically partner with us to find a cure.
Instead of practicing obsolete medicine and issuing a constant stream of demerits against your beleaguered colleague who represents a grassroots movement, join us and become a part of the solution. We warmly invite you to a seat at the table.
Julie is the founder and president of the ApoE4.Info non-profit, a grassroots organization of ApoE4 carriers working to prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s disease and among the many who have recovered their cognitive health using the Bredesen Protocol. Sharing the knowledge she gained from reversing her cognitive decline, she’s collaborated with Dr. Bredesen and his integrative physician wife, Dr. Aida Lasheen Bredesen, to write the handbook portion of the New York Times bestseller “The End of Alzheimer’s Program.” Julie integrates her background in journalism, public relations, and counseling with her passion for cognitive health to serve as a protocol educator in a consulting role with Apollo Health. You can read her story in “The First Survivors of Alzheimer’s.”