By Sayer Ji
Anecdotal reports claim coconut oil produces remarkable recoveries from Alzheimer's disease, but is there research to support this? Now, one study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease shows that a mechanism for coconut oil's brain rescuing properties does in fact exist
The internet loves a good "natural cure" recovery story. For instance, when Dr. Mary Newport, MD, dramatically reverses her husband's symptoms of Alzheimer's disease after just two weeks of adding coconut oil to his diet, thousands enthusiastically share the story. But despite their popularity, anecdotes rarely stand the test of time, nor the scrutiny of the medical community, at least not like experimental research published in peer-reviewed biomedical journals.
All the more reason to celebrate a promising study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease titled, "Coconut Oil Attenuates the Effects of Amyloid-β on Cortical Neurons In Vitro."[i] The study lends fresh experimental support to an accumulating body of anecdotal reports that coconut oil may alleviate and/or regress cognitive deficits associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's.
Medical researchers from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada, undertook a pilot study to investigate the effects of coconut oil supplementation directly on cortical neurons treated with amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide in vitro. Aβ peptide is the main component of certain deposits found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease believed to contribute to the disease.
The researchers noted that a clinical trial, which we reported on in our article MCT Fats Found in Coconut Oil Boost Brain Function in Only One Dose, reported significant improvements in Alzheimer's disease patients after 45 and 90 days of treatment with medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil. They pointed out that this trial led to the marketing of the FDA-approved 'medical food' caprylidene (trade name Axona), but that the public has shown greater interest in coconut oil itself as a potential therapy, owing to its far greater affordability and availability.
The researchers sought to test the hypothesis that coconut oil is beneficial for neurodegenerative conditions using a cell model. Live rat neurons were exposed to various combinations of Aβ peptide and coconut oil, with the result that Aβ peptide reduced survival of neurons and coconut protected against this Aβ-induced reduction in survival time. The researchers noted that coconut treated Aβ cultured neurons appeared "healthier," and that coconut oil "rescued" Aβ-treated neurons from mitochondrial damage caused by their toxicity. The researchers observed coconut oil preventing Aβ-induced changes in mitochondrial size and circularity. These findings have great significance, as mitochondria function is often compromised in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients.