Who would have guessed that the very same treatment to help you manage respiratory symptoms can also help improve your brain health? Researchers now believe that one type of the FDA-approved asthma medication, Zileuton, might be able to slow down or even reverse Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's is a life-threatening condition that interferes with the brain's functioning, memory, and reasoning ability. The disease usually progresses until the patient is no longer able to manage basic day-to-day activities, according to the National Alzheimer's Association. This eventually leads to a decline in health and finally death.

Despite the threat that this all-too common illness poses for so many people, until now there's been little that can be done to treat Alzheimer's or to stop it from progressing. But a study published in the American Journal of Pathology in March 2011, conducted by researchers from Temple University's School of Medicine, offers new hope for patients and families to better manage or treat the disease using Zileuton, which is currently prescribed for asthma.

The Promising Treatment

Since there isn't an obvious link between asthma and Alzheimer's, it may seem confusing as to how the benefits of this asthma medication can extend to both diseases. To understand the connection, you need to know that one major risk factor of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease is the release of an enzyme in the brain that causes a chain reaction that ultimately leads to dangerous brain plaque build-up.

While earlier Alzheimer's treatments have tried to prevent this condition from developing, they have backfired because they have also blocked protective actions needed to avoid cancer and other serious illnesses.

The asthma treatment affects the same enzyme, though, and also seems to achieve the right balance, inhibiting the dangerous effects without hampering the vital functions needed to safeguard health. Studies on mice using this asthma treatment have shown a 50 percent reduction of the related brain plaque without ill effects.

As a result, scientists are now looking to modify the asthma treatment and tailor it specifically to help prevent and treat Alzheimer's.

Protect Yourself from Alzheimer's

While asthma drugs aren't yet approved to officially treat Alzheimer's, if you already take Zileuton you may still reap the extra benefits. You can also talk to your doctor to determine your likelihood of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Keep in mind that while you can't prevent Alzheimer's disease at this point, the latest research suggests that eating well, managing your weight, exercising regularly, and keeping your overall health at its best can help reduce your risk.


"Alzheimer's Facts and Figures." Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's Association, 20 April 2011. Web. 10 May 2011.

"Alzheimer's Information." Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Service (ADEAR). National Institute on Aging, 8 Dec 2010. Web. 10 May 2011.

"Asthma Drug Could Help Control or Treat Alzheimer's Disease." Temple University. Temple.edu, 25 March 2011. Web. 9 March 2011.

Chua, Jin and Pratic, Domenico. "Pharmacologic Blockade of 5-Lipoxygenase Improves the Amyloidotic Phenotype of an Alzheimer's Disease Transgenic Mouse Model: Involvement of γ-Secretase." The American Journal of Pathology, Volume 178, Issue 4, April 2011: 1762-1769. Web. 9 March 2011.