Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s

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Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s

The Low-fat Diet and Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Part of the Problem?

Photo of tropical culture where Alzheimer's is rare

Population studies in tropical cultures that consume coconut oil seldom see diseases like Alzheimer’s.

by Brian Shilhavy

Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease were a Hot News Item in 2012

2012 was the year that the news about coconut oil and Alzheimer’s disease started making it into the mainstream media. This is not surprising, as it coincided with news about the failure of drugs in treating Alzheimer’s also making headlines. In January 2012, drug companies Pfizer and Medivation admitted that the new drug they were developing for Alzheimer’s, dimebon, not only did not help patients in trials, but made patients worse. The expensive drug had already reached phase III trials. (See story here on ABC News) So as the development of this drug has now been abandoned, and so many other potential drugs have also failed, many are beginning to look at the role of diet in Alzheimer’s and focusing on prevention. People are also beginning to see positive results in using coconut oil to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s.

Most of these reports focus on the action of ketones, which indeed offer great promise for Alzheimer’s sufferers. But what has NOT made it into mainstream media reports, is how we have come to have so many of our seniors develop Alzheimer’s in the first place. There is now good evidence that the low-fat diet theory is partly to blame, as well as the over-prescription of statin drugs, which artificially lower cholesterol. Cholesterol is a key component to our brains, comprising 25% of its mass. The lipid theory of heart disease is crumbling fast, leaving a terrible carnage in its path, as people wake up to the fact that the highly profitable statin drugs might just be the biggest medical scam of our generation.

The harm of low-fat high-carbohydrate diets in cholesterol uptake in the brain

The study of the role of diet in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is continuing to advance as hundreds of millions of dollars in drug research have yet to produce any significant cure. One of the latest studies published appeared in the European Journal of Internal Medicine: “Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet”1.

The authors of this study have noted how researchers have begun to direct their energies towards understanding the earlier stages of AD, since drug research in later stages has not been very successful. They note that several researchers have noticed a strong correlation between insulin resistance in the brain and early AD, suggesting that AD might be considered a neuroendocrine disorder of the brain or so-called “type 3 diabetes.” Other observations have noted an association of AD with mitochondrial dysfunction, which is also common in Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

But the authors’ main conclusions regarding the early causes of AD center around the transport of cholesterol from the blood stream to the brain. They state that there is mounting evidence which suggests that a defect in cholesterol metabolism in the brain may play an important role in AD. They give a nice summary of the brain’s dependency on cholesterol:

The brain represents only 2% of the body’s total mass, but contains 25% of the total cholesterol. Cholesterol is required everywhere in the brain as an antioxidant, an electrical insulator (in order to prevent ion leakage), as a structural scaffold for the neural network, and a functional component of all membranes. Cholesterol is also utilized in the wrapping and synaptic delivery of the neurotransmitters. It also plays an important role in the formation and functioning of synapses in the brain.

They point to several studies that show a lack of cholesterol present in the brains of AD patients which is so vital for several functions, and also note that other studies show this cholesterol deficiency in dementia and Parkinson’s disease. In contrast, high cholesterol levels are positively correlated with longevity in people over 85 years old, and in some cases has been shown to be associated with better memory function and reduced dementia.

The authors go on to explain that the lipid theory of heart disease started by the work of Ancel Keys in the 1960s led to dietary beliefs that cholesterol was to be avoided in the diet, and with that belief came the “over-zealous prescription of cholesterol-reducing medications over the same decades in which there has been a parallel rise in AD prevalence.”

Another result of the low-fat dietary belief was the replacement of fats in the diet with refined carbohydrates, which leads to a rise in blood glucose levels and over time to insulin resistance and diabetes. They point out that the prevalence of fructose, mostly in the form of high fructose corn syrup, is ten times more reactive than glucose in inducing glycation. This impairs serum proteins, and they hypothesize that this leads to a depletion of much needed cholesterol and fat in the brain. Strong evidence in favor of their hypothesis is the fact that studies show patients with type-2 diabetes are at two to five times increased risk to AD.

Aside from dietary considerations that can cause a lack of cholesterol uptake to the brain, one must seriously take into consideration the fact that one out of four Americans over the age of 45 are currently prescribed statin drugs to force cholesterol levels lower. Aside from the obvious danger of not having enough cholesterol uptake to the brain as discussed above, a growing body of clinical research now indicates that the cholesterol-lowering class of drugs known as statins are associated with over 300 adverse health effects. For more information about the dangers of statin drugs, click here.

Lipid Peroxidation and Alzheimer’s Disease

Increased lipid peroxidation is also shown to be an early cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Liquid vegetable oils, the polyunsaturates, are highly prone to oxidation and rancidity, and it is now well known that in the form of trans fatty acids (through the process of hydrogenation) they are extremely toxic. (More research on polyunsaturated oils here.)

Dr. Raymond Peat has talked about the difference between polyunsaturated oils and saturated oils in their importance for brain tissue for years now.

Brain tissue is very rich in complex forms of fats. The experiment (around 1978) in which pregnant mice were given diets containing either coconut oil or unsaturated oil showed that brain development was superior in the young mice whose mothers ate coconut oil. Because coconut oil supports thyroid function, and thyroid governs brain development, including myelination, the result might simply reflect the difference between normal and hypothyroid individuals. However, in 1980, experimenters demonstrated that young rats fed milk containing soy oil incorporated the oil directly into their brain cells, and had structurally abnormal brain cells as a result. Lipid peroxidation occurs during seizures, and antioxidants such as vitamin E have some anti-seizure activity. Currently, lipid peroxidation is being found to be involved in the nerve cell degeneration of Alzheimer’s disease.2

How Coconut Oil can Help With Alzheimer’s Disease

Coconut oil, by contrast, is highly saturated, and in its natural unrefined form has a shelf life of more than 2 years. Unlike unsaturated oils, it is not prone to oxidation.

Also, the study from the European Journal of Internal Medicine referenced above notes that Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) all have an association with mitochondrial dysfunction. A study published in 2010 used coconut oil to show that a diet enriched in the saturated fatty acids of coconut oil offered strong advantages for the protection against oxidative stress in heart mitochondria.3

Much research is also being uncovered now on the advantages of high HDL cholesterol levels, besides the study we mentioned above in direct relation to Alzheimer’s. A study appearing in the American Journal of Cardiology in February 2011 showed that the higher men’s HDL cholesterol levels, the longer they lived and the more likely it was that they would reach the age of 85.4 A diet with adequate amounts of saturated fat is essential to keeping HDL high cholesterol levels. Those with deficiencies and suffering from neurological disorders need to consider a diet that is high in saturated fat, in stark contrast to the mainstream dietary advice for low-fat diets that might be causing many of these late-in-life diseases.

Another major advantage the saturated fat of coconut oil provides is its ability to provide the brain with an alternate source of energy in ketones. Ketones are high energy fuels that nourish the brain. Our body can produce ketones from stored fat while fasting or in starvation, but they can also be produced by converting medium chain fatty acids in certain foods. Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of these medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). A study done in 2004 took MCTs from coconut oil and put them into a drink that was given to Alzheimer’s patients while a control group took a placebo.5 They observed significant increases in levels of the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-OHB) 90 minutes after treatment when cognitive tests were administered. Higher ketone values were associated with greater improvement in paragraph recall with MCT treatment relative to placebo across all subjects.

As coconut oil’s use becomes more accepted and widespread, and as people begin to realize the dangers of the low-fat dietary belief, we expect to see more testimonies in relation to diseases like Alzheimer’s. One of the most widely published reports recently was from Dr. Mary Newport as reported by the St. Petersburg Times on October 29, 20086. Dr. Newport’s husband had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and was watching her husband quickly deteriorate. After using drugs that slowed down the effects of Alzheimer’s, she looked into clinical drug trials and found one based on MCTs that not only slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s, but offered improvement. Not being able to get her husband into one of these trials, she began to give him Virgin Coconut Oil, and saw incredible improvement in his condition.

The coconut oil he’d ingested seemed to “lift the fog.” He began taking coconut oil every day, and by the fifth day, there was a tremendous improvement. “He would face the day bubbly, more like his old self,” his wife said. More than five months later, his tremors subsided, the visual disturbances that prevented him from reading disappeared, and he became more social and interested in those around him.7

You can read Dr. Newport’s entire case study here. Below is a story CBN did on Dr. Newport and her husband:

Read my commentary on this story regarding coconut oil and Alzhiemer’s from CBN here. While this is a great story showing how ketones and coconut oil can help with Alzheimer’s disease, it does not even address the whole issue of cholesterol uptake to the brain as I wrote about above. Dr. Newport admits that her husband Steve was taking statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) until she took him off of them in 2009, after studying the cholesterol issue. She stops short, however, in recommending that others suffering from Alzheimer’s do the same. Until the media and the general public wake up to the facts regarding all the serious side effects from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, simply adding coconut oil to one’s diet might only have a minimal effect.

Carol Flett came across Dr. Newport’s research while praying for a solution to her husband’s worsening dementia. In her blog post Can God Use Facebook to Answer Prayers? she reports:

Within three or four hours after giving Bruce the first couple of tablespoons (of coconut oil) he was speaking in clear sentences again. He did have one relapse, shortly after starting, but it lasted only a day. After that he sprang right back and has been doing well ever since, taking care of many things himself that he hadn’t been able to do for a long time. The doctor came to see Bruce yesterday. He was amazed. He ordered another cognitive test, but he could see for himself that Bruce was much better. I told him about the answer to prayer. He believes in God. He didn’t scoff. He just said, “Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s working.” I believe God can use whatever method he chooses. If He chooses to use part of his creation such as coconut oil, I won’t complain, and if He gives direction to His praying child through Facebook, that is His prerogative as well.8

She has since posted a video of Bruce thanking people for praying for him, and explaining how his condition changed dramatically after taking coconut oil. He reports how he was diagnosed with dementia and could no longer care for himself, and that the doctors recommended that he be put in a nursing home. Watch and listen to him now:

Ian Blair tells us in this video how “Coconut oil gave me my brain back” after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s:

Dietary Advice for Alzheimer’s Sufferers

Coconut oil does offer hope as nature’s most abundant source of MCTs, and it is an easily convertible fuel source for ketones. In addition, it is one of nature’s richest sources of saturated fat which is needed to produce HDL cholesterol to feed the brain. People suffering from Alzheimer’s should immediately start avoiding polyunsaturated forms of oil such as soy and corn oils, especially if they are hydrogenated and in the form of trans fatty acids. These are prone to oxidation and potentially mitochondrial dysfunction. Other healthy fats would include butter from the milk of cows that are grass-fed, and Omega 3 fatty acids from high quality fish oil, cod liver oil, or krill oil.

Refined carbohydrates in the form of refined wheat products and refined sugars should be strictly avoided! High protein foods such as eggs from pastured chickens (preferably fed a soy-free chicken feed), pastured poultry, and grass-fed meats are all desirable proteins for brain health.

I started checking into Coconut oil because I saw on the news that Alzheimers patients were dramatically improving after taking this oil. I bought some for my father who had recently been diagnosed and he now thinks the Alzheimers has gone away! I’m using it too and I feel so good, physically and MENTALLY better! Roxie (Coconut Diet Forums)

5 Medical Doctors with Gary Taubes and Robb Wolf Discuss Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease – Article Here.

See Also:

New Alzheimer’s Drugs Continue to Fail Where Coconut Oil Shines in 2014

References:

1. Seneff S, et al, Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet, Eur J Intern Med (2011), doi:10.1016/j.ejim.2010.12.017

2. 1996 Raymond Peat Newsletter, Eugene, OR -http://www.coconutoil.com/ray_peat_coconutoil 

3. Am J Cardiol. 2011 Feb 4. Relation Between High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Survival to Age 85 Years in Men (from the VA Normative Aging Study). Rahilly-Tierney CR, Spiro A 3rd, Vokonas P, Gaziano JM.

4. Mitochondrion. 2011 Jan;11(1):97-103. Epub 2010 Aug 5. Dietary fatty acids and oxidative stress in the heart mitochondria. Lemieux H, Bulteau AL, Friguet B, Tardif JC, Blier PU.

5. Neurobiol Aging. 2004 Mar;25(3):311-4. Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Reger MA, Henderson ST, Hale C, Cholerton B, Baker LD, Watson GS, Hyde K, Chapman D, Craft S.

6. Doctor says an oil lessened Alzheimer’s effects on her husband, St. Petersburg Times, October 29, 2008 - http://www.tampabay.com/news/aging/article879333.ece

7. Ibid.

8. Can God Use Facebook to Answer Prayers? Carol Flett EverydayChristian.com

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About the authors: Unlike many people who write about coconut oil by simply reading about it, Brian and Marianita Shilhavy actually lived in a coconut producing area of the Philippines for several years. Marianita Jader Shilhavy grew up on a coconut plantation in the Philippines and in a culture that consumed significant amounts of coconut fat in their diet. She later went on to earn her degree in nutrition and worked as a nutritionist in the Philippines. Brian Shilhavy also lived in the Philippines for several years with Marianita and their 3 children observing firsthand the differences between the diet and health of the younger generation and those of Marianita’s parents’ generation still consuming a traditional diet. This led to years of studying Philippine nutrition and dietary patterns first hand while living in a rural farming community in the Philippines. They are authors of the best-selling book: Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people’s lives and how it can change yours!

Includes 85 recipes – Free shipping available!

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24 thoughts on “Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s

  1. Moyra Paterson on said:

    Brilliant response from ‘David’ (March 19th)! As for “talk to one’s doctor”, elsewhere – it was our DOCTOR who gave my husband a chronic alzheimer’s-like condition, by scare-mongering him into taking Lipitor (prescribed without any warnings whatsoever), and subsequently ignoring the feedback that it was suddenly causing rapid and unexpected memory loss. As those who are suffering from statin-induced changes to their brain will know, personality, identity & ability are also changed by severe memory loss. I have ‘lost’ my bright, intelligent and alert husband to a UK doctor who is ignorantly (or wilfully) prescribing for profit. I need not describe the nightmare of desperately trying to adapt our lives over the past few years.
    The internet is now awash with information on this subject from quite a number of concerned and highly-responsible medics… you have only to look for it. If you are dutifully taking ‘medications’ without being aware of the harm they are doing to you, a good place to start searching is the RxISK.org database.
    (I came to this site by chance, searching for Dr Mary Newport + coconut oil references.)

  2. warren packard on said:

    I am 72 years old and use coconut oil in my diet for everything. I also take EDTA along with malic acid to remove mercury, lead and aluminum from my body. as these heavy metals accumulate in your brain and are also a leading cause of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Flue shots as well as vaccinations are loaded with mercury and aluminum. I avoid these also. My health , as well as brain function are functioning as well as when I was a teenager.

  3. Marion de Val on said:

    My husband has been having coconut oil for almost a year now and during this time has shown many small and gradual improvements.He is no longer agitated and seems contented.We thank God for revealing so much to Mary which she has so graciously passed on to so many othersToday my husband managed to put his trousers on unaided which he hadn’t been able to do for more than a year so I do feel his vascular dementia is really starting to be reversed.Even small improvements make a carer feel so much better.I do pray that God will let Gerry sleep later than his usual time of about 5am but I mustn’t be greedy.God bless you and Steve and your girls

  4. Charlotte on said:

    Hi,
    I have started my mother on coconut oil, at the moment she is taking one teaspoon 3 times a day and I was wondering how much I shoul increase the dose to make sure she gets the maximum benefit. I have also just bought MCT oil but am unsure how much to give her alongside the coconut oil. i would be so grateful for some guidence.
    Thank you in advance

      • Charlotte on said:

        Thank you so much for your swift responce, you’ll never know how truly grateful I am.

        Thank you too for your wonderful web page.

  5. Tim on said:

    My 85 yr old mum is suffering from short term memory problem and will repeatedly ask the same questions again and again. I started with 2 teaspoons of coconut oil a day and within a few days she said she is more alert and less tired. The memory problem is still there but I am going to increase the dosage to 5 a day and hope to see her memory improve soon.

    I am also feeding my 8 year cat half a teaspoon a day and to my surprise, she went from mild senility to become more active and playful again like her younger days. And most amazing of all, her whiskers which have all turned grey are starting to slowly turn back to original black colour again.

  6. Susan on said:

    Hi
    Mum has vascular dementia and also suffers with petit mals and is on Lamotrigine. Is Coconut oil OK to use alongside Lamotrigine? I really want to start her on it asap. Thanks in advance.

    • Admin on said:

      We don’t give medical advice, and have no knowledge of drugs or their interactions. Coconut oil, however, is a food, and a very safe food that has been consumed for thousands of years. The most serious “adverse reaction” is diarrhea or loose bowel movements, primarily because people start out eating too much. This would be a common reaction to just about any fat or oil that is consumed in large quantities all of a sudden.

  7. Raul on said:

    So what if I prepare oats for my mother who has senile dementia and after taking oats from oven I add coconut oil to it and give it to her. Is it ok? the heat of the recently prepared oats will not damage its properties?

    • Admin on said:

      No, coconut oil is not damaged by heat. It will smoke over 350 degrees, however. Adding coconut oil to oats is very common – many people do it.

  8. David on said:

    This makes a lot more sense than taking yet another pill. My grandparents of course didn’t have coconut oil. They didn’t have refrigerators for half of their lives. They ate meat packed in salt. They ate lots of fried food and lard was always the cooking grease of choice for them. They put sweet cream on their cereal and they never trimmed the fat off of anything. They thought that was the best part. Maybe they were right. They did have high cholesterol but they didn’t have heart trouble, clogged arteries or dementia. They lived into their 90′s. Something else they didn’t have most of their lives was a lot of food additives, artificial sweeteners, flavors, etc. If coconut oil will offset the some of the effects of all this, hallelujah. I’m a war vet who has had a lot of mental trouble since. I’d much rather use coconut oil than the pills the VA wants me to take.

  9. Yaja Kindermann on said:

    Use the oil. My mum has vascular dementia made worse by a terrible fall 5 years ago. I do what i can but before she had cocnut oil she was a very ‘happy little cabbage’ but would drop into massive depressions. After only 4 days on the oil, she is happy to let me leave the house because she is becomign more AWARE of things. She rerfers to herslef in 1st perosn rather than ‘she’ this, ‘she’ that….and is undertsanding more and more about my life. She’s vegetarian mainly vegan and on mo drugs so this may’ve spurrd the process on…but whatever…she is starting to consider ME now, and knows who I am!

  10. Pete Hicks on said:

    I have been reading a lot about coconut oil and how it can help with alzheimers, my job role is a trainer and assessor in aged care where one of the units in personal care is dealing with dementia. so I have a great interest in this subject. the information that i have obtained on here i will be using in the class room to try and make people realize what we are facing. the only time you hear anything about dememtia is if someone who is very important has it. The Australian government funding for this problem is the 4 th least funded and yet the third biggest killer. It is time for people to open their eyes and take notice of what the future is .
    time for the world to wakeup.
    Pete

  11. Robin on said:

    I just came across this website when I heard about the effects that coconut oil has on the skin and the benefits of using it. My mom suffers from Alzheimer’s and this article has given us hope. I am going to introduce it in her diet and see if it helps. Thank you!!

  12. Frieda Ferrell on said:

    I believe I will get some coconut oil and try it. Thank you so much for the news.I believe in God and believe he led me to this site. May God Bless you all.

  13. Katy on said:

    Ok, I got my mother Coconut Oil as she has these last few yrs, been unable to remember things and Im fearing the worst. How does she introduce this into her diet?

  14. Sharon DiFelice on said:

    I bought some and have used it for some cooking, but how can we “eat” it? I put it in a smoothie and it tasted like chunks of lard…Does it have to be refrigerated?

      • Sandra on said:

        My mother has dementia diagnosed 1 1/2 years ago mild now starting to get worse, she has been on & off sick for 1 year with infections, rashes etc. I’m a hair stylist & one of my clients mentioned to me to get Coconut Oil for my mother and for me. She is my angel , my mother was going to start on Aricept, my dad said she needs to be on the drug. Told him No; start 2 tablespoons a day cocnut oil the both of themOh I started too. God bless her in 5 days her memory was getting better & could keep a conversation finishing sentences feeling better and my sister talked to her 40 mins.not repeating herself and answered questions. Very alert, my sister said she hasn,t had a conversation with mom in months like that. I told her its Coconut Oil. I love it and I beleive it is a miracle natural product. Thank you Lord!!

  15. alison on said:

    this is an incredible find’….i have been cooking with coconut oil for a few months’ and i suffer from depression’ …about 30 plus years with depression. i have noticed that my moods have changed for the better when i keep using it for cooking. Not to mention my thinking has become clearer.’ i don’t know why so many people think’ that if the answer is to simple’…it must not work.” …you’ll never know’ til you try it :)))

  16. Susan on said:

    Thank-you for sharing your knowledge with a nation that relies far to heavily on drugs and food additives. I believe that God knew 100% what he was doing when he created the earth and all of the inhabitants on it. God Bless you.

  17. raydellabshire@att.net on said:

    great article

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