Coconut Oil: Can It Stop Alzheimer's?

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 09:00 AM

By Vera Tweed

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When he was 53, Steve Newport began to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and kept getting worse until five years later, when his wife and caregiver, Dr. Mary Newport, discovered coconut oil. Within hours of taking a couple of tablespoons, he started to improve.
 
ALERT: 5 Signs You’ll Get Alzheimer’s Disease

Steve’s memory improved, he was able to process information better, and he just seemed all-around more mentally sharp.
 
What If There Was a Cure?
Although it didn’t cure Steve of the disease, the benefits of coconut oil were so striking that Dr. Newport became an advocate, and found that it helped many other people in similar situations. She wrote a book, What If There Was a Cure? and helped to instigate a clinical trial at the University of South Florida.
 
The study, which will begin enrolling participants in early summer, is being led by David Morgan, a researcher who has studied Alzheimer’s for 25 years. Dr. Morgan is the CEO of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute in Tampa, the largest center in the United States that both treats dementia patients and carries on clinical trials.
 
Promising Research
Earlier studies, though not conclusive, have found that coconut oil holds considerable promise as an Alzheimer’s treatment. And, Dr. Morgan looked at anecdotal evidence from more than 200 people. “About 80 to 85 percent of these people experienced benefits,” he tells Newsmax Health, “usually within a few weeks.”
 
Coconut Oil: Brain Fuel
With Alzheimer’s, specific types of plaques build up in the brain and destroy brain cells. Animal studies have found that coconut oil does not get rid of such plaques, according to Dr. Morgan, but it may help in another way. From what we know so far, he says, “Healthy parts of the brain work better.”
 
More specifically, there is an underlying mechanism: In Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases, the brain is sometimes not able to use glucose, its basic source of energy. Coconut oil is unique in that it provides an alternative source of brain fuel, called ketones. Our bodies make ketones when body fat is burned for energy, such as during fasting, but fasting doesn’t help people with Alzheimer’s. Coconut oil appears to deliver the ketones in a way that is especially useful to the brain.
 
In any given case of a neurological disease, this mechanism may play a bigger or smaller role, so coconut oil benefits may vary. And that’s part of what Dr. Morgan’s study will help us understand.
 
How Much Coconut Oil Should You Take?
Solid at room temperature, coconut oil is a saturated fat, which conventional doctors consider unhealthy. But integrative physicians view coconut oil as a healthy fat, because it has unique properties. Unlike other saturated fats, it is high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a specific type of fat that provides ketones that fuel the brain. Coconut oil is also popular among body builders, because MCTs are believed to help to burn body fat.
 
MCTs make up about 60 percent of coconut oil. MCT oil is also available by itself in supplements, with fewer calories.
 
Earlier studies have found that 20 grams of MCTs daily are a therapeutic dose. That amount is found in slightly more than 2 tablespoons, or 7 level teaspoons of coconut oil.
 
In his study, Dr. Morgan is using a flavored drink (the brand is called Fuel for Thought) that combines coconut oil and MCT oil with water. Participants will be taking either a placebo or a one-ounce serving of the drink, three times daily, with a meal.

ALERT:
5 Signs You’ll Get Alzheimer’s Disease

Coconut oil can be used in place of butter and oils in cooking, as a spread, and in smoothies. Processed foods sometimes contain “hydrogenated coconut oil,” which is an altered form of the oil that is a trans fat and clogs arteries. Look for organic coconut oil, which is widely available in health food stores and some supermarkets and discount chains.

The complete version of this article first appeared in Health Radar. To read more, click here.

 
 

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