How Did Coconut Oil Reverse Alzheimer's Disease? Where Did It All Start?

By Dr Harold Gunatillake, Health Writer. FRCS, FACS (US), FIACS (US), AM (SING), MBBS (Cey)

Two of my regular readers wanted to know: The first asked me whether two of her friends having Alzheimer's should take coconut oil? And the second reader indicated that coconut oil consumed daily reversed Alzheimer's.

I would like to have your comments on this article that drinking coconut oil will reverse Alzheimer's disease. What kind of coconut oil should be prescribed? I have two friends who are showing signs of dementia, and I was wondering whether I should recommend that they take coconut oil. Should it be virgin or plain coconut oil? Sent by Suta from Colombo
Seven teaspoonful's of coconut oil per day helps the Alzheimer's person to improve memory. The document is from an American doctor. Coconut oil (none hydrogenated) contains no cholesterol, etc. Comments? Sent by Wilfred, Colombo

Much research is being done presently to investigate to find out what causes AD and a cure for the disease. Alzheimer's is a progressive and debilitating brain disorder, which afflicts millions of elderly people, both men and women. It destroys the person's memory, and also obliterates the person's ability to communicate with others, make judgments, reason out and also perform daily activities. Health experts and researchers stress that at present, there is no known cure for Alzheimer's despite the rising numbers of the afflicted. However, the good thing is that a number of treatments and testing methods are being tried to help in slowing down the progression of the disease, as well as in considerably easing the symptoms, and is hopeful in the future to find a way to arrest the progress.

Scientists believe that for most people, Alzheimer's disease results from a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time.
Less than 5 percent of the time, Alzheimer's is caused by specific genetic changes that guarantee a person will develop the disease.

It was published in Petersburg Times on October 29, 2008, that after two weeks of taking coconut oil, Steve Newport's results in an early onset Alzheimer's test (Mini Mental Status Exam-MMSR, and Alzheimer's gene test was positive), gradually improved, says his wife, Dr Mary Newport.

Before treatment, Steve could barely remember how to draw a clock. Two weeks after adding coconut oil to his diet, his drawing improved. After 37 days, Steve's drawing gained even more clarity. The oil seemed to "lift the fog," his wife says.

She began vigorously researching online and uncovered the new medication's patent application (MCT oil). She found an in-depth discussion of its primary ingredient, oil composed of medium chain triglycerides known as MCT oil (MCT oil is not coconut oil, though some dealers try to make out))

Now, without continuing giving coconut oil which proved slight improvement on her husband's symptoms clinically, according to Dr Newport's observations, she talks of MCT oil. This is where the subtle advertising system emerges, the American way.

MCT oil is medium chained triglycerides, sold in small bottles at a price like US $ 25. Those who sell MCT oil claims that coconut oil is predominantly composed of MCT oil. Then, why pay so much for MCT oil when coconut oil would be cheaper?

Triglycerides vs Mono-glycerides
The predominately fatty acids in coconut oil are 'medium chain' fatty acids. These fatty acids are composed of mainly mono-glycerides, harmless, unlike triglycerides. There are three medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs): lauric acid, capricacid, and caprylic acid in coconut oil. There are also three monoglycerides formed during digestion: monolaurin, monocaprin, and monocaprylin. All three of the medium chain fatty acids and medium chain monoglycerides possess antimicrobial properties; triglycerides and di-glycerides do not.
There are longer chained carbon atom fatty acids in other fatty foods.The proponents of MCT oil claim that coconut oil is predominantly composed of MCT (medium chained Triglycerides)

I repeat – Truthfully, coconut oil is predominantly composed of monoglycerides and not triglycerides.

Body fat is a triglyceride which can cause harm in various ways, especially when high levels are found in your blood and in obesity. Contrary, mono-glycerides are harmless and stable, and in coconut oil these respective fatty acids are mainly composed of Lauric acid, Myristic acid and Capric acid as mentioned before Lauric acid forms about 55% of the fatty acids. This is one reason that coconut oil does not generate cholesterol, though it's a saturated fat, and also it has therapeutic benefits.

The antiviral properties of lauric acid was first discovered when researchers were investigating the anti-infective properties of human breast milk. Human and mammalian breast milk are rich in lauric. These fatty acids and mono-glycerides provide protection against infections to babies, whose immune systems are still developing. When nursing mothers include coconut oil in their diet, the level of these fatty acids in their breast milk can triple

Those having commercial interests on MCT oils are attempting to flog their oil stating that it is coconut oil. Today, in US anything with coconut sells fast. Presently, they advertise coconut weight reducing diets, coconut foods, and so on.

Mrs Newport was happy giving the cheap non-hydrogenated coconut oil from the local stores which proved that it worked to improve her husband's illness, and suddenly she is made to promote MCT oils.

In her article she says, "On the drive home, she stopped at a health food store and bought a jar of non-hydrogenated, extra-virgin coconut oil. The next morning she stirred two tablespoons of coconut oil into her husband's oatmeal, and she tried it in hers, too.

"I prayed harder than I'd ever prayed in my life," she said, her prayers were answered. Steve scored an 18 on the exam, the highest he'd scored for more than a year and four points higher than the previous day. "It was like the oil kicked in and he could think clearly again," Dr Newport said. "We were ecstatic."

Next Dr Mary Newport talks about the positive results with ketones.

Extract from my article already circulated on "Ketone Bodies"-
Ketosis is a normal process where excessive ketone bodies formed, a crucial organic compound- acetoacetate, when human body is starved of carbohydrates for energy requirements. The body under such strained situations would be to use fatty acids stored in the body as triglycerides to burn its own fat for fuel, for energy requirements in the liver, heart and kidneys, due to the restriction of energy from carbohydrates. The process of ketones production in humans is called ketogenesis. In the brain, they are a vital source of energy during fasting when the body is deprived of carbohydrates. Brain cells would prefer energy from sugars, being much more physiological. So, we have to understand that ketone body formation is a natural event under carbohydrate deprived situation.

In 2005, Dr VanItallie studied the ketogenic diet's effect on Parkinson's disease. In his study, five patients stuck to the diet for one month, and all of the participants' tremors, stiffness and ability to walk improved, on average, by as much as 43 percent.

"Our study was very successful for our patients," Dr VanItallie said, explaining that the one drawback is that the ketogenic diet mimics starvation. It is low carb, low protein and nearly 90 percent fat, he explained. "People can't really stay on this diet for long, it's too restrictive."

Now, who introduced Dr Newport to recommend "Ketones" to be given to her husband, who was fairing reasonably well on coconut oil?

Since starting the coconut oil regimen with her husband, Dr Newport has become somewhat of an expert on the subject. Though not a neurologist, her background as a medical doctor and her biochemistry classes in medical school have helped her understand the way MCT oil is converted into ketones, and how beneficial this dietary supplement can be for those unable to process glucose.

She began vigorously researching online and uncovered the new medication's patent application. She found an in-depth discussion of its primary ingredient, oil composed of medium chain triglycerides known as MCT oil. Dr Newport believes that when you take MCT oils orally, the liver converts MCT oil into ketones. She also talks about non-hydrogenated coconut oil is more than 60% MCT oil, and this medication derived its MCT oil from this readily available tropical tree.

Once again, I reiterate that MCT oil is not coconut oil though some are made to believe.

We believe that the triglycerides from food, transported as chilo-microns or liposomes are converted by the liver into various lipoprotein forms (not ketone bodies) such as VLDL and LDL. This provides the mechanism for absorption of LDL into the cell and for its conversion into free fatty acids, cholesterol and other components of LDL.

Ketones are produced from body fat stored as triglycerides, as an intermediary product. Dr Newport discovered that with Alzheimer's disease, certain brain cellsmay have difficulty utilizing glucose (made from the carbohydrates we eat), the brain's principal source of energy. Without fuel, these precious neurons may begin to die. There is an alternative energy source for brain cells-fats known as ketones. If deprived of Carbohydrates, the body produces ketones naturally. But this is the hard way to do it.

Another way to produce ketones is by consuming oils that have medium-chain Triglycerides, and when MCT oil is digested, the liver converts it into ketones, says Dr Newport.

A very open declaration of advertising MCT oils which is not coconut oil. As claimed, triglycerides in MCT oil or any food containing triglycerides are not converted to ketones in the liver
It is the overproduction of ketones from the breakdown of stored triglycerides within the human body that worries the medical profession. Ketones, though, is crucial for human body, its excessive production is much noxious as it triggers many new health complications suddenly depleting the reserve of glycogen in the liver extensively. Glycogen is the stored form of glucose in the liver which is utilized in times of deprivation.

Effect of insulin for the treatment of AD (New finding)
Insulin is critical for normal brain function, and abnormal insulin metabolism has been shown to contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Because patients with Alzheimer's disease also exhibit decreased levels of insulin in the central nervous system, it has been hypothesized that raising these levels to normal might help maintain cognitive ability. Studies involving animals have suggested that insulin deficiency in the brain may possibly be a key factor in the progression of Alzheimer's.

Promoting MCT oils and ketones as substitutes to improve utilizing glucose to provide energy to the brain is a far fledged idea. Alzheimer's patients do not show any signs of lack of oxygen (hypoxic state) in any part of the body, including the brain.

The pathology in the brain is the deposition of substances called beta-amyloid may damage and destroy brain cells in several ways, including interfering with cell-to-cell communication. Although the ultimate cause of brain-cell death in Alzheimer's isn't known, abnormal processing of beta-amyloid is a prime suspect.

Bottom line:
I am of opinion that the whole article circulating through emails by Dr Mrs Mary Newport, and others is an advertising gimmick for MCT oil manufacturers, bringing forward a hypothesis that ketones produced from that oil in the liver assists in providing energy to the brain.

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