Using Coconut Oil for Alzheimer’s Disease

spoonful of coconut oil for alzheimers treatment

A recent article appearing in the St. Petersburg Times reports that a woman improved her husband’s symptoms of Alzheimer’s with coconut oil.

Dr. Mary Newport had watched her husband Steve, slowly succumb to the ravaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Throughout the onset of his illness, he began struggling with daily tasks. He told his wife he didn’t know what was happening and he felt confused.

An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was made and he eventually tested positive for the gene that puts someone at a higher risk for developing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Steve was eventually prescribed several different medications to help slow the progression of the disease but his symptoms continued to get worse. He soon lost interest in eating and suffered dramatic weight loss which further worsened his condition.

Seeking a way to treat his symptoms, Dr. Newport looked at clinical drug trials that might offer better results than the medications her husband was currently taking.

A Fatty Brain is a Healthy Brain

colored diagram side view of brain and spinal cord in a head

While doing research into her husband’s treatment, Dr. Newport discovered a new drug that showed amazing results – proven memory improvement.

“Most drugs talk about slowing the progression of the disease…but you never hear the word ‘improvement.’ Right then I knew I had to find out more,” she said.

She uncovered the new drug’s patent application on the internet and learned its primary ingredient was an oil made up of medium chain triglycerides, also known as MCT Oil.

The current research has shown that most Alzheimer’s patients’ brains can have difficulty metabolizing glucose which is the main source of energy for your brain…and without glucose your brain cells may die.

Now experiencing brain cell death isn’t a good thing, but scientists have discovered that our brain cells  can easily switch to an alternative source of energy – special fats called ketones.

Dr. Theodore VanItallie, a medical doctor and professor emeritus at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City has been researching ketones for more than 35 years.

“Ketones are a high-energy fuel that nourishes the brain,” VanItallie said, explaining that when you’re starving, the body will naturally produces ketones. So when you eat MCT oil, the liver converts it into ketones. In fact, during the first few weeks of life, ketones actually provide about 25% of the energy newborn babies need to survive.

Using Coconut Oil for Alzheimer’s

Dr. Newport’s research on this new ‘memory-improving drug’ revealed that it contained an oil derived from coconut trees…and it turns out that coconut oil contains more than 50% MCT fatty acids.

Unfortunately, Steve was not accepted into the first clinical trial. His Alzheimer’s symptoms worsened to the point he was unable to remember the season, month or day of the week.

Mary’s husband now tested so low on mental examinations that his results categorized him with severe Alzheimer’s.

“And then it hit me,” she said. “Why don’t we just try coconut oil as a dietary supplement? What have we got to lose? If the MCT oil in it worked for them, why couldn’t it work for us?”

Though not a neurologist, Dr. Newport’s medical background and classes in biochemistry in medical school helped her understand how MCT oil is converted into ketones and how it could help patients who can’t metabolize glucose.

On the way home from work, she picked up a bottle of non-hydrogenated virgin coconut oil at her local health food store.

The patent application for the experimental drug included dosage information and she was able to convert the required dosage with some simple math.

Photograph of Dr. Mary Newport and husband with alzheimers disease

Before & After Photos of Clock Drawings
Steve Newport – St. Peterburg Times

The next morning she mixed 2 tablespoons of the tropical oil into her husband’s oatmeal. On the way to the second drug screening she asked Steve what the day,month and year was – and he answered correctly!

“It was like the oil kicked in and he could think clearly again,” Dr. Newport said. “We were ecstatic.” Steve continued taking the oil everyday and by the fifth day there was tremendous improvement.

Doctors conducted a test to measure any change in Steve’s progress; he was instructed to draw a picture of a clock. After 2 weeks of the coconut oil treatment there was a dramatic difference in Steve’s ability to convey the detail of a clock face.

More than 5 months later, Steve’s tremors have apparently stopped, the visual disturbances that prevented him from reading have disappeared, and he has become more social and interested in those around him.

Dr. Newport acknowledges that coconut oil may not be a cure for Alzheimer’s, but she remarked, “It appears the oil is helping.”

Other studies have shown the potential health benefits of ketones….A study in 2005 showed patients with Parkinson’s disease experienced reduced tremors and stiffness when they ate a ketogenic diet for one month.

Here is Dr. Mary Newport’s report on coconut oil and its effect on Alzheimer’s disease for further reading:

Coconut Oil Alzheimer’s Study

While this one patient’s experience using coconut oil for Alzheimer’s is encouraging, more research in needed.

The Canadian Alzheimer’s Society states that the effects of using coconut oil on Alzheimer’s is unclear and that more research is required before forming any conclusions.

As a disclaimer, this article is not advocating that you use coconut oil for Alzheimer’s disease; it is a report of one person’s experience.

Please consult with your Physician before making any changes to your diet or treatment plans.

Research References: – St. Petersburg Times – Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ketone bodies as a therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease. Henderson ST. Neurotherapeutics. 2008 Jul;5(3):470-80.

Ketones: metabolism’s ugly duckling. VanItallie TB, Nufert TH. Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, 10025, USA. Nutrition Reviews. 2003 Oct;61(10):327-41.

Ketone bodies, potential therapeutic uses. Veech RL, Chance B, Kashiwaya Y, Lardy HA, Cahill GF Jr. Unit on Metabolic Control, LMMB/NIAAA, Rockville, Maryland, USA. IUBMB Life. 2001 Apr;51(4):241-7.


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