Coconut oil for Alzheimer’s is based on the well-researched benefits of ketone-rich diets in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Vascular and Lewy Body Dementia. Learn about the Coconut-Oil-Dementia Diet, a rich source of ketones & other brain-healthy nutrients.
Welcome to our series investigating dementia and the science behind the brain’s use of ketones. This series offers much well-referenced information but is not medical advice. Before using any of this information, ask your doctor.
A coconut-oil-dementia diet focuses on foods that are rich in ingredients that help the body make ketones, as well as other brain-healthy nutrients that fight dementia. Here is how it works.
Glucose is our brains’ primary energy source. Like an athlete too weak to run due to hunger, a brain with too little glucose can experience cognitive decline. That means a person will have problems thinking and remembering.
As our brains age, they “burn” glucose less efficiently. Furthermore, research has shown that a drop in glucose metabolism usually occurs in people with dementias such as Alzheimer’s. This glucose-drop often occurs years before people begin to exhibit symptoms.
To address this problem, scientists began studying ketones as an alternative energy source to glucose.
In 2008, the medical journal “Neurotherapeutics” published the study, Ketone Bodies as a Therapeutic for Alzheimer’s Disease. The groundbreaking research demonstrated the brain’s apparent ability to use ketones as an alternative energy source.
With this new evidence regarding ketones’ benefits for the ailing brain, scientists began taking a closer look at the “Ketogenic Diet.” The ketogenic diet activates the “ketosis” process in our bodies, generating these energy-giving ketones.
Brain Studies on Ketones
Indeed, researchers found the ketogenic diet to have neuroprotective effects, breathing new life into brain cells. In uncontrolled clinical trials and animal studies, the ketogenic diet provided “symptomatic and disease-modifying activity in a broad range of neurodegenerative disorders.”(1) This includes:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Traumatic brain injury
- Stroke (Vascular dementia) (1)
- Huntington’s Disease(2)
- Lewy Body Dementia(3)
Further research strengthened the evidence in such studies as the one showing that the Ketogenic Diet improves dementia in mice.
Even more recently, the University of South Florida (USF) Byrd Alzheimer Institute launched a clinical trial of coconut oil in 65 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. It is currently in progress as of June 2013.
The ketogenic diet is complex. It usually requires supervision by a professional nutritionist. This is worth the effort when it is administered for its proven benefits for epileptics. However, for people living at home with dementia, it can be too demanding. When not strictly supervised or adhered to, it can have undesirable side effects.
To make its benefits more accessible to the millions of people with dementias such as Alzheimer’s, the biotechnology company Accera introduced Axona®.
Axona® is a brand-name high-quality FDA-recognized prescription-only medical food. It comes in clean, easy-to-use one-a-day packets. For those who can afford it, clinical trials have shown it to be a promising supplement. At about a hundred dollars a month, though, it is not for everyone.
The ketogenic diet’s process of ketosis is not the only way to get helpful ketones to the brain. When a person eats or drinks anything rich in MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides), the liver quickly converts them into ketones, which make their way to the brain in just an hour or two.
Sources rich in MCTs include MCT oil, coconut oil and Axona®. It is well worth exploring the least expensive concentrated source of dietary MCTs, coconut oil.
Virgin coconut oil is available at health food stores, food co-ops, Amazon.com and many grocery stores. It is inexpensive and contains about 60 percent MCTs.
The most famous advocate of coconut oil for dementia is Dr. Mary Newport. Dr. Newport almost gave up hope on treating her husband’s Alzheimer’s. After doing her own research, she began giving him a daily dose of coconut oil. He showed immediate improvement.
In 2008, she started carefully documenting her husband Steve’s progress. After two years of regular use, she carefully documented that he:
- improved dramatically
- jogged once more
- read again and remembered what he read
- got distracted less
- had a stable MRI for the entire two-year period.
Dr. Newport said at the time,
“I do believe that, overall, the use of coconut oil has taken us back in time at least two years. I don’t know if we will beat it, but we have at least gotten a reprieve from this disease.”
See the interview of Dr. Mary Newport on her Research on Treating Alzheimer’s with Coconut Oil.
In 2014, under the video, “How Much Coconut Oil for Alzheimer’s & Dementia?”, Dr. Newport wrote:
“About one year ago, Steve began having seizures which occur in about 1/3 of Alzheimer’s patients eventually…not related to coconut oil. He fell straight back and hit his head with the first seizures. I wouldn’t trade the extra three or so better quality years we had as a result of coconut oil even if Alzheimer’s wins in the end. I have personally heard from about 400 people who have benefited, most with dementia, at least 35 with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders, some now stable for two to four years. It is a dietary intervention… it is your choice.”
Coconut oil dissolves easily in anything from coffee to hot breakfast cereal. Check out, 20 Ways to Mix Coconut Oil into a Dementia Diet.