Landmark Multimodal Study Sets Precedent for Alzheimer’s Disease Research

PORTLAND, OR – A proof-of-concept study led by Heather Sandison, ND, and implemented by researchers at National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) Helfgott Research Institute could have far-reaching, positive impacts on the future of cognitive decline research.

Heather Sandison, ND

Findings from NUNM Helfgott Research Institute team show promise of individualized treatment for cognitive decline

While Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects approximately six million people in the U.S. and 50 million people worldwide, clinical trials have been disproportionately focused on a singular treatment method. Sandison and team instead tested an individualized, holistic approach to treatment involving changes to patients’ lifestyle, including sleep, diet, and stress management.

After initial assessments of unique biomarkers, each trial participant was provided a custom treatment plan, personal health coach, and treating clinician. Within six months of intervention, multiple measures of patients’ cognitive function improved, indicating a multimodal, individualized treatment approach may be a more effective strategy than ones involving a single drug.

Sandison believes these study findings, published this month in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, could be empowering to both patients and providers: “So far, more than 200 AD drugs have failed clinical trials. I hope this research encourages those living with the disease but also motivates researchers to explore previously unaddressed contributors to cognitive decline.”

Study co-author and Director of the NUNM Helfgott Research Institute, Dr. Ryan Bradley, underscored the importance of collaboration in moving AD research forward: “There’s always a knowledge gap and activation energy necessary to move treatments from bench to bedside; these types of partnerships help bridge that gap. Instead of anecdotal evidence of hope or progress, research collaboration offers clinicians quantifiable evidence of patient benefit.”

Drs. Sandison and Bradley hope their initial findings lead to a national multisite control study to further evaluate multimodal, individualized treatment approaches to AD.

“My big push is changing the narrative,” said Sandison. “As scientists and care providers, we make a lot of assumptions and don’t give patients enough credit. Hopefully these findings chip away at some of those assumptions. The goal is to make Alzheimers rare and optional.”

Read the full study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Volume (94) Issue (3).

About NUNM

Established in 1956, National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) is the longest active, accredited naturopathic medical university in North America and a leader in natural medicine education and evidence-based research. The NUNM Helfgott Research Institute is a professionally independent, non-profit research institute conducting rigorous, high quality research on the art and science of healing. Learn more at

About the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Now in its 26th year of publication, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment, and psychology of Alzheimer’s disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease, and clinical trial outcomes. JAD has a Journal Impact Factor of 4.160 according to Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate, 2022). The journal is published by IOS Press.