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Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease

April 11, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

I’m always on the look-out for ways to make my healthy lifestyle as interesting and mentally stimulating as possible. One way I do it is by listening to podcasts while exercising. It’s a great way to be entertained and learn something while conditioning my body.

A few days ago I came across a particular podcast by my friend, Jimmy Moore, that really got my wheels spinning. I listened with utter fascination and wondered what additional information I could find on the subject matter discussed. The topic of the program was the role that a much maligned fat could possibly have in reversing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of brain dysfunction.

Mary and Steve Newport

Coconut Oil, MCTs and Aging Brains

Dr. Mary Newport recounted a riveting story about her husband who was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease at the young age of 58. Thankfully for us all, Dr. Newport didn’t simply accept that this diagnosis would lead to an inevitable and tragic outcome. She researched any and all available options and decided to try to get her husband enrolled in clinical trials for experimental drugs for dementia.

Both Dr. Newport and her husband encountered huge roadblocks almost immediately. In order to be enrolled in such experimental studies, you generally need to possess a certain level of brain function. The reasoning is that medications are more likely to benefit those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The sad fact was that Steve wasn’t scoring high enough on tests to qualify him for the trials.

Then Dr. Newport came across some information about the use of a specific class of fats that were showing preliminary promise in the nutritional management of a variety of neurological conditions. These unusual fats go by the name of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). The most concentrated food source of MCTs is coconut oil. With nothing left to lose, Dr. Newport began giving her husband large amounts of coconut oil and incorporating it into their diets. The results were nothing short of amazing. This oil, which most doctors will tell you to avoid like the plague, has halted and even reversed some of the symptoms of Steve Newport’s brain dysfunction!

If you know anything about coconut oil, you know that it’s loaded with saturated fat. Most conventional doctors consider it one of the most damaging types of fat because it’s “bad for the heart”. When something is harmful for the heart, it typically also impedes circulation to other vital body organs, including the brain. But as you’ll see, recent scientific studies do not appear to support this view.

  • A March 2009 study found that adding MCTs to the diet of dogs with “age-related cognitive decline” increased the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the parietal cortex of the brain – a part of the brain that is severely impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are the types of fats found in fish, but are not present in coconut oil. Researchers theorize that the MCTs liberated omega-3s from fat stores already present in the body and shuttled them to the brain.
  • It’s also interesting to note that the MCTs caused an increase in phospholipid levels in the brain (which can promote healthy cognitive function), and did not raise cholesterol concentrations in the parietal cortex (a theoretical concern).
  • A study from August of 2008 found additional reason for hope. A group of aged dogs were again administered MCTs through their diets for a period of 2 months, after which their brains were analyzed. The scientists conducting the experiment found that the dogs eating MCTs showed greater cell energy in the parietal lobe (like in the first study). There was a decrease in amyloid precursor protein (APP) and a declining trend in amyloid-beta levels in the parietal region. Amyloid-beta is a protein that makes up the plaques found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease and a target of many Alzheimer’s medications.
  • A February 2009 trial conducted at Yale University found that MCTs could serve as a glucose alternative in a group of diabetic rats. The researchers found that MCTs preserved brain function during periods of low blood sugar without generating the risk of high blood sugar. This is an important finding because one current theory is that certain forms of brain dysfunction may be associated with an impaired ability to utilize glucose as a source of energy in the brain.

As I mentioned previously, one of the common concerns about using MCTs or coconut oil is the saturated fat content. The following recent trials examined the cardiovascular effects of MCTs:

    MCTs and Cholesterol
  • In 2008, a study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the use of MCTs and olive oil as part of a weight loss diet in a group of people at risk for metabolic syndrome. 31 men and women participated in this 4 month study. They were all overweight and consumed about 12% of their calories from either MCTs or olive oil. At the end of the trial, the scientists concluded that, “MCT oil can be incorporated into a weight loss program without fear of adversely affecting metabolic risk factors.”
  • Another 2008 experiment found that MCTs may actually improve “cardiac dysfunction” in rats with high blood pressure.

In the podcast with Dr. Newport she anecdotally mentions that her husbands cholesterol levels have actually improved since starting the high dose coconut oil supplementation. Steve’s HDL (“good”) cholesterol has gone up and his LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides have both gone down.

I’d also like to mention that MCTs have been used effectively and with relative safety in the long-term treatment of epilepsy. Many of these studies have been conducted on epileptic children.

I’ve personally begun experimenting with organic coconut oil myself to see how my own brain responds to it. It’s too early for me to tell for sure, but I think it may be affording me some added clarity. If you need a mental boost or if you’re at high risk for brain dysfunction, I suggest you listen to Jimmy Moore’s podcast and visit Dr. Newport’s research site. I’d love to receive feedback from anyone who decides to test out the brain boosting effects of coconut oil.

Be well!

JP

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34 Comments to “Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease”

  1. Jean Says:

    JP

    I’m enjoying browsing your blog, thanks for sharing all that interesting information. I’ve been taking a teaspoon of cold pressed EVCO in my cup of coffee in the morning for the past month, looking forward to some noticeable effects.

    Also, my 5 yr old dog started having seizures in February, just started giving her a small amount of EVCO daily also, along with the natural supplement of Cholodin. I want to avoid giving her prescripton meds.

    I’ll post with any positive results for either of us :)

  2. JP Says:

    Jean,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    I sure hope both you and your dog benefit from the coconut oil.

    I’ll look forward to learning about your results.

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    Since reading about MCT oil vs Alzheimers, I’ve started adding it to my hot cocoa. I also make delicious microwave popcorn by adding a little MCT oil to 1/4 cup of popcorn, then microwaving for 4 3/4 minutes. I use a cone shaped bowl (flat bottom). Cheaper and probably healthier than microwave bags.

  4. JP Says:

    I’ve been taking about two tablespoons of organic coconut oil a day. I think it’s worth a shot.

    I haven’t tried the MCT oil yet. How’s the taste?

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Nina K. Says:

    Dear JP,

    i eat extra virgin coconut oil for 3 years now and i love it. its so easy to digest.

    here in europe there are two dealer which sell organic vco. one of them is noblehouse.tk in uk. they have a lot of information and scientific stuff about coconut oil.

    there are also positive effects for the thyroid function, bone density, absorbtion of vitamins and minerals, its good for people with gallbladderstones or liver diesease, bowel disease, and it boosts metabolism like green tea.

    love your site, your topics are mine too :-) )

    Greetings from Europe,
    Nina

  6. JP Says:

    Nina,

    Thanks for sharing your experience and the additional coconut oil information!

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Leah Says:

    I have bought the extra virgin coconut oil capsules (1 gm each) and am wondering how many to give my husband on a daily basis. R is 52 years old and has been diagnosed with FTD. Please help!

  8. JP Says:

    Leah,

    Please take a look at Dr. Mary Newport’s most recent updates.

    Link – http://coconutketones.com/

    I don’t think it’s possible (or practical) to use coconut oil capsules if you want to use the same quantity that Dr. Newport is giving Steve (her husband).

    After reviewing her most recent information, I think you’ll see why using pure coconut oil and/or MCTs may be a better way to go.

    I wish you and your husband all the best.

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Marlys Says:

    I’m so happy to find this. I’ve been so stressed over seeing my mother begin to exhibit symptoms. She as well has been conscious of the memory problems. We’re both relieved to find this and both are taking this…me for prevention and other things like cholesterol and blood pressure to see how it works. My medical doctor recommended this article to me…Yea! I’m glad to have a doctor that’s willing to try something besides drugs! I’ll let you know how it works for both of us!

  10. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Marlys! :)

    I’m thrilled to know that your doctor passed this information along to you. I sincerely hope that your mother benefits from the coconut oil and that you find positive effects too! I’ll look forward to hearing about your results!

    Be well!

    JP

  11. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    I’m now caring for my 91 yr old mother and I add mct oil (spiked with curcumin & piperine) to our daily oats-groats-barley porridge.

    I recently bought 5 gallons of MCT oil from Jedwards, but haven’t started using it yet. It’s not as high a potency but seems a good buy ($146, incl shipping).

    6 months ago my mom was in a total mental fog. Now, since taking her off Lipitor and being on a better diet, she’s lucid, alert, and much more active.

  12. JP Says:

    Excellent news, Iggy. Continued success!

    Be well!

    JP

  13. John Keenan Says:

    A friend who is a nutritional counselor immediately recommended coconut oil for my 90 year old father. He has tumbled quite a bit further into dementia over the past 4 months. I don’t know anything about degrees of it, but I think that he is in a early part of a mid stage of it. He would NEVER consider taking anything like coconut oil before, but It might be easier to get it in to him now. Any recommendations would be dearly appreciated.
    Jon

  14. JP Says:

    John,

    Please use the search function on my site to find many natural tips re: Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Here are a few columns that may be particularly relevant:

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/280/holistic-brain-care/

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/492/coffee-surprises/

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/589/brain-detoxification/

    I wish you and your father all the best.

    Be well!

    JP

  15. william rainbow Says:

    Greetings
    I am a retired airline pilot, aged 85 years and in excellent health, except I can recall events 7o years ago but now I have to stop and think to recall recent events!
    I read the article regarding coconut oil to assist this problem but all I could find was the following
    Organic deodorized coconut oil from the Philippines which contains peanuts, other nuts seeds or soy.
    Can anyone inform me is it safe to consume the recommended 4 spoons of this per day
    for memory loss. Thanks
    Bill

  16. JP Says:

    William,

    I think it’s worth seeking out another source of coconut oil. I would avoid the deodorized variety. I always look for brands that are cold-pressed, organic, unbleached and unrefined. Sometimes this is described as “extra virgin coconut oil”.

    In terms of dosage, you may want to consider starting with a lower dosage and working your way up as needed. Please visit Dr Newport’s research site for more details about dosing options:

    http://coconutketones.com/

    Be well!

    JP

  17. Jenn Says:

    I’m caregiver for my 88 year old father who has mid-late stage
    Alzheimer’s with Parkinson-like tremors. Over the last 6 years his doctors have tried all the different Alzheimer’s meds which not only did not help him but made him even more confused and depressed.

    I’ve started giving him Organic EV Coconut Oil 10 days ago. I started with one tablespoon AM and one tablespoon PM. After a few days I started giving him at least four tablespoons of the Coconut oil per day. As recommended I space out the dosage to three or four times a day. So far, I cannot tell if anything is different, improved or otherwise. I expect it will take weeks or months to notice anything.

    For William or anyone looking for a store that sells Coconut Oil
    If you have computer access, and you obviously do, you can do a search or simply order it from Amazon.com.

    Recommendation is cold pressed, Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Unrefined.

    I put it in hot oatmeal, use it in place of butter or margarine for toast and any warm or hot food. In fact I use it in liquid state and spoon it over toast, spread, add a little low sugar jam and it’s delicious. You can mix a tablespoon of it into hot chocolate or tea, or a bowl of soup…its very good.

    I am praying this will make a difference for my father and everyone else that is trying it.

    Not bleached or deordorized or heated.

  18. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing that, Jenn. Please keep us posted.

    I wish you and your father all the best.

    Be well!

    JP

  19. bj Says:

    Iggy, do you mind if I ask what dosage of lipitor your mother was on before you took her off it, and did you have any alternative approaches to compensate for not having it? thanks bj

  20. william rainbow Says:

    Thanks for your reply
    I have purchased the following and unless it’s my imagination, I am finding an improvement in short term memory loss!
    I have purchased
    Organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil from Fiji. The incredients are undydrogenated unrefined unbleached undeodorized organic
    and I also have puchased–
    ceresorganics coconut oil cold pressed which I notice is deodorised
    Which do you consider the better oil ?
    Thanks

  21. JP Says:

    William,

    I’m happy to hear that you’re finding an improvement.

    I’d stick with the Fijian brand. This less refined form is probably best, IMO.

    Be well!

    JP

  22. Jenn Says:

    Hi everyone.
    Just checking in to find out if anyone has noticed any positive improvements since starting your Alzheimer’s loved on on Organic EV Coconut oil.

    I started my father on it nearly a month ago. So far nothing positive that I have noticed. In fact last week he was worse than usual. I’m still giving him 4 tablespoons daily. Still hoping and praying to see any improvement.

    Has anyone seen any improvement?

  23. william rainbow Says:

    Greetings Jenn
    I have been taking Ceres Organics Virgin cold pressed coconut oil plus Ginkgo 8000 plus brain and circulation formula for one month and there definitely has been a marked improvement in my short term memory loss. Instant recall is still not there but there sure is an improvement in the last month. Best of luck with the medication
    Bill

  24. bj Says:

    * Hi all.

    * I have been looking for a while to see how Dr Newport’s husband
    * has been progressing in the last year or so. I can’t seem to
    * find any updates or recent reports.

    * Does anyone know if there are some links or any webpage that
    * has the latest on his progress and any other developments that
    * Dr Newport may have come up with.

    * With thanks
    * bj

  25. Mark Says:

    I would like to know where to source bulk MCT coconut oil from the UK. I plan to go on a keto diet and need this stuff in bulk to replace the carbs I use in my diet.

    I am a bodybuilder so getting enough calories is essential to me.

  26. JO Says:

    Trans fats, Alzheimer disease and cognitive decline
    The “Dietary Fats and the Risk of Incident Alzheimer Disease” study

    A study published in Archives of Neurology in February 2003 showed that the intake of both trans fats and saturated fats promoted the development of Alzheimer disease – a truly terrible form of dementia, in which people of middle age and older are progressively stripped of their memories, identities, personalities and ultimately their lives.
    The study, “Dietary Fats and the Risk of Incident Alzheimer Disease” by Martha Clare Morris, ScD et al., was based on a random sample of 815 people of 65 years or more in age, who were not affected by Alzheimers at the outset. It found a series of strong statistical correlations between dietary intake of fats and the risk of developing Alzheimers. Trans fats and saturated fat increased the risk of developing Alzheimers, while polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats of vegetable origin reduced the risk.

    The strongest effect was observed in the case of trans fats: the top 80 percent in trans fat consumption had, on average, four times the risk of developing Alzheimers (after adjusting for the effects of other fats), than the 20 percent with the lowest trans fat consumption (who typically ate only 1.8 grams of trans fat daily). Thus:

    “We observed a strong increased risk of Alzheimer disease with consumption of trans-unsaturated fat.”
    In the case of saturated fats, there was a smilar but weaker effect: the top 80 percent in terms of saturated fat intake had a 2.5 times greater chance of developing Alzheimers than the 20 percent with the lowest intake (after adjusting for the effects of other fats).

    Similar but inverse correlations were found for intake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fats, of vegetable origin. The 20 percent with the lowest consumption of unsaturated vegetable fats had a five times greater chance of developing Alzheimers than the 20 percent with the greatest consumption (after adjusting for the effects of other fats).
    The study also found a synergistic effect whereby the damaging effect of trans fat was increased if the diet was low in polyunsaturated fat, especially where polyunsaturated fat intake was less than 10 grams daily:

    “The deleterious effect of increased trans-unsaturated fat intake on the risk of developing Alzheimer disease was substantially greater among persons with low polyunsaturated fat intake, whereas the effects were minimized among persons with high polyunsaturated fat intake”
    Thus a person eating a high amount of trans fat and a low amount of polyunsaturated fat was found to have a nine times greater risk of developing Alzheimers than someone eating a low amount of trans fat and a high amount of polyunsaturated fat.
    The study concluded:

    “High intake of unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats may be protective against Alzheimer disease, whereas intake of saturated or trans-unsaturated (hydrogenated) fats may increase risk … These data [...] provide promising evidence that diets high in unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats and low in saturated and trans-unsaturated fats may protect against dementing disease

  27. Audrey Gorr Says:

    I have been using coconut oil for a few years, it has improved
    my cholestoral and I have been able to reduce the strength of my thyroid medication. The best coconut oil I have found is from Tropical Traditions in the Philipines. I use it for all frying or sauteing, as well as on oatmeal and toast with cinnimon. Also in fruit smoothies. To keep it from hardening in a cold smoothie
    just warm it a little and gradually add to the smoothie in the blender . Works great. That gives you a lot of ways to get it
    in your diet. Just go to http://www.tropicaltraditions.com. They also have a lot of other organic foods. I get the Gold label 100% virgin organic coconut oil. I also know of someone who has improved memory after starting on coconut oil. Good Luck everyone. Audrey

  28. Karen Lynne Says:

    I was in a roll over car accident in 1993 suffered a traumatic brain injury. I still have issues (although not nearly as severe as the year after the accident) with my memory. I’m curious if there has been any success using coconut oil with head injuries?

  29. JP Says:

    Hi Karen,

    This review (below) presents the latest information about ketogenic therapy re: brain trauma, memory, etc.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321471/?tool=pubmed

    Also, Dr. Newport’s primary site may be of interest as well:

    http://www.coconutketones.com/

    Be well!

    JP

  30. Ron Aiello Says:

    Looking for help. Mother has severe case of Alzheimers and decided to try organic coconut oil. Problems, she won’t take the pills and we do not fry food very often, so we can,t use coconut oil to cook. When we try to add to drinks like Ensure it coagulaes.

    Seeking ideas or ways to get coconut oil into her diet that may have worked for you. This is a serious request and any help would greatly be appreciated.
    RON

  31. JP Says:

    Hi Ron,

    You might try adding coconut oil to homemade hot chocolate (preferably sugar-free), hot cereal/oatmeal and soups. I’ve tried all of these options with good success.

    In my experience, the key is to combine coconut oil into hot/warm foods that are also good sources of fiber. Doing so allows for the coconut oil to be incorporated better into the finished food – rather than separating.

    Be well!

    JP

  32. Dr William B. Mount Says:

    First – I just did a story on APFN based on this story.

    See: APFN THE CURE FOR ALZHEIMERS UPDATE 1

    Please also see: APFN THE CURE FOR CANCER UPDATE 3
    APFN THE CURE FOR MS
    APFN THE CURE FOR LYMES DISEASE
    APFN THE CORE FOR HIV
    APFN THE CURE FOR AUTISM
    ETC.

    Thank you for being there.

    Dr William B. Mount
    253-686-6290

  33. izzy Says:

    Too many people with this terrible alzheimer condition.

    I do believe in the good that is in coconut oil and my personal experience, albeit not with alzheimer.

    I wonder if something so good with other things could be bad in other areas, is this possible.

    My psoriasis on my scalp which i had for many years cleared up with just 4/5 applications and my awful toenails that at one point were starting to go black almost immediately halted just by dripping the oil on the toenails daily. People with psoriasis tend to suffer a general dry condition in a number of areas, CO has completely cured of these things. God bless.

  34. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing your positive experience with coconut oil with us, Izzy.

    Be well!

    JP

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