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Alzheimer’s patient says her symptoms have ‘reversed’ following intensive lifestyle changes

A patient diagnosed with Alzheimer’s claims making significant changes to her lifestyle as part of a clinical trial has had a dramatic effect on her symptoms.

Speaking on new CNN documentary ‘The Last Alzheimer’s Patient’, US woman Cici Zerbe said that she overhauled many parts of her life to try and stave off the disease’s progression as part of the study, including meditation, diet and exercise. 

Zerbe told the programme that she’s feeling ‘much better’ and believes some of her symptoms have reversed.  

US woman Cici Zerbe, pictured, took part in the clinical trial by Dr Ornish, which looked at the impact of lifestyle interventions – including exercise, meditation and diet changes – on Alzheimer’s symptoms (Credit: CNN)

The peer-reviewed research, Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, is led by Dr Dean Ornish, a leading global voice on social prescribing, and will be released later this month.

It will report on the results of the clinical trial, which examined the effects of intensive lifestyle changes on the progression of mild cognitive impairment or early dementia due to Alzheimer’s.

Dr Ornish is a clinical professor in medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and has dedicated much of his career to showing how easy-to-implement lifestyle changes can help prevent – and even reverse – disease. 

His latest study was carried out at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California and looked at whether Alzheimer’s could be ‘slowed, stopped or even reversed’ via non bio-medical interventions.

Those participating in the trial followed a plant-based diet, increased exercise levels, and joined regular yoga and meditation sessions.

CNN’s documentary reporting on the study, The Last Alzheimer’s Patient, is released this month

Ahead of the study starting in 2022, Dr Ornish told CNN: ‘What’s good for your heart is good for your brain and vice versa. Prior studies have shown moderate changes in lifestyle can slow the rate of progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

‘So, my hypothesis is that more intense lifestyle changes could stop or even reverse the decline.’

Dr Ornish has spoken at several College of Medicine events, including the Food on Prescription Conference in 2024.