Coconut Oil

[This article is purely informative and is not intended to endorse any particular help or treatment.]

I heard about a recent treatment that could possibly help with Alzheimer’s disease.  It is controversial and the scientific experiments to date are not conclusive.  However, the empirical evidence from people who have tried it seems positive.  The new treatment is coconut oil.

Theory:

The theory behind its efficacy is that it has components that make the liver create a certain type of ketones (compounds that are produced by the process of burning fatty acids).  The brain cells affected by Alzheimer’s seem to lose their ability to absorb glucose for energy and they start to die.  But they can still absorb keytones, which serve as an alternate form of energy.  The ones produced as a result of the coconut oil seem to be particularly effective.

Pros:

While it is a fat, it is a good fat, one that elevates the good cholesterol (HDL).  It’s also touted as a natural antibiotic.  To be sure, one needs to buy “pure” coconut oil, one that has not been hydrogenated.  That process turns it into dangerous trans-fat.  Since it’s mostly “natural” and if it’s pure, it’s essentially a food and can’t hurt much even if it doesn't help.

Cons:

There is no definitive evidence that it helps.  I haven’t found any clinical trials, especially one conducted for a good period of time, showing any benefits.  There are however many testimonials of people who have provided coconut oil to a sufferer and have seen improvement, both physical and mental.  This site has a discussion session on the issue that is both pro and con: Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease.

What does the Alzheimer’s Association say?  In an article I found on the Alzheimer's Association site (click on the link), they state the results of a medical study conducted based on the idea of the ketones behind the coconut oil.  They used a substance chemically similar to Caprylic acid found in a food product called Axona, produced from coconut oil or palm kernel oil.  The substance is called Ketasyn.  While there was evidence that subjects consuming the substance improved over those who took placebos, the manufacturer of Axona discontinued the study because it was a phase II study, which is typically small, containing a limited amount of participants.  The FDA requires that follow-up studies in phase III include thousands of participants.  However, the manufacturer decided not to pursue the trials.

It’s possible that the manufacturer did not see a sufficiently large profit margin to continue with the study or perhaps it could not synthesize something it could patent and thereby make money.  The burden of proof by FDA standards (and by statistical inference) needs to be high and we would need to wait for someone to take up a similar study to that would yield some facts and draw some conclusions.

In a video referring to this treatment, it was stated that there is a lab that has synthesized a product (I don’t know if it was referring to Ketasyn), which triggers the production of the ketones in question by about 1,000 times.  However, it stated that it’s very expensive to produce.  That may explain why a company would abandon the research.

The most notable advocate of this treatment is a medical doctor, Mary T. Newport, MD, who has written a book on the subject titled “Alzheimer’s Disease – What if there was a Cure?”.  Her husband is an Alzheimer’s victim and she tried it on him with noticeable improvement.  You can read about her story at the Healthy Advocate web site.

Comments