The current medical thinking is that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a deficit in neurotransmitter function; specifically acetylcholine. Doctors have become obsessed with the characteristic amyloid plaques which are found in Alzheimer’s brains. But there is no evidence whatever that these plaques are the cause of Alzheimer’s.
In fact scientific studies say the opposite. Drugs designed to reduce the presence of plaques have no significant effect on the progression of AD.
Moreover drugs designed to rectify the acetylcholine deficiency also fail miserably, even though they are pushed with phoney science and TV advertizing hype (Aricept etc. are worthless).
All this is despite the fact that there is a better model for AD. It’s better because rectifying it results in dramatic improvement.
Alzheimer’s patients suffer from a metabolic disruption that inhibits the brain’s ability to use glucose to power neurons.
Recent research has focused on insulin resistance in the brain in Alzheimer’s patients, with researchers at Brown University in 2005 suggesting that the neurodegenerative disease might be a Type 3 diabetes!
Glucose is the main fuel that powers the brain, but in Alzheimer’s disease, neurons are unable to effectively metabolize it to generate energy. Unable to produce adequate energy, the brain doesn’t efficiently utilize fats, fails to produce adequate amounts of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and can’t properly clear the cellular proteins in the brain that give rise to the telltale plaque associated with the disease.
So the disordered glucose metabolism is further upstream than the limited causes that doctors and scientists are stuck on.
How do we get round this metabolic block? Is there a practical way?
Yes, there is: medium chain fatty acids (MCTs). Like all triglycerides (fats and oils), MCTs are composed of a glycerol backbone and three fatty acids, hence the name triglyceride. But not all are the dangerous ones that screw up your blood lipid profile.
In fact some MCTs are so gentle and friendly that patients with malnutrition or malabsorption syndromes are treated with MCTs because they do not require energy for absorption, utilization, or storage. In addition, MCTs do not require bile salts for digestion.
The names of the medium-chain fatty acids (and the corresponding number of carbons) found in MCTs are caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12). You may have heard of caprylic acid as a treatment for vaginal Candida.
Coconut oil is composed of approximately 66% medium-chain triglycerides. Other rich sources of MCTs include palm kernel oil and camphor tree oil.
Why should these help bypass the glucose metabolism block? Because MCTs, coupled with a low carb diet, release floods of compounds known as ketones. In fact, the body naturally breaks down fat into ketone bodies to use for energy when insulin is unavailable.
Why does that help?
Because ketones are a valuable source of powerful nutritional energy, which brain cells can use for energy even when their ability to metabolize glucose is impaired. Actually, damaged brain cells seem to prefer ketones as a source of energy and lap them up.
You may have heard of ketones in association with the Atkin’s diet. Robert Atkins’ name is associated with a very low carbohydrate diet (though he did not actually invent it, it’s been around over 100 years). His idea was to lower carbohydrate levels to the point where the body is forced to switch from glucose metabolism, to burning fats.
A reasonable idea: getting rid of fat is the whole object of the diet. You can tell fats are being burned because ketones, a product of fat breakdown, will appear in the blood. Ketones smell sweet and sickly, so you can easily tell you have reached the so-called ketogenic stage because of the breath odor which appears.
But Atkins’ many antagonists were quick to point out the dangers of ketones. They appear in the final stages of diabetic coma. This rather extreme condition may also lead to a metabolic acidosis, which is dangerous too.
In reality, nobody has ever come to harm with the Atkins’ diet. Critical studies have shown over and over it’s quite effective and safe. The body seems to know what it is doing and a healthy body does not get into the mess a diseased body may create from this alternative metabolism.
That’s why coconut oil and a low-carb diet are very healthy. You can feed your brain especially favorable nutrients, knowing that injured cells, in the process of repair, are especially benefitted.
There is a new product on the market, called Ketasyn. It’s largely MCTs and so is helpful for Alzheimer’s.
A mid-stage clinical trial of 152 patients that had previously been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease showed Ketasyn improved memory and other aspects of cognitive performance. The trials tested patients with a genetic variation seen in half of Alzheimer’s patients known as ApoE4(-).
The population experienced a 3.5-point improvement—in a 30-point scale—after twelve weeks compared to the placebo group. ApoE4(-) patients who also exhibited a genetic variation that affects glucose regulation, showed a 5-point improvement in ADAS-Cog scored compared to placebo.
Ketasyn may also slow AD. Subjects who remained on Ketasyn for all nine months of the study showed very little disease progression, declining only 0.8 points below baseline in ADAS-Cog scores in contrast to the 5.4-point decline observed in placebo subjects extrapolated to nine months.
Ketasyn in a separate trials has also shown clinical benefit in treating age-associated memory impairment, a possible precursor to Alzheimer’s. The company said clinical trials have shown Ketasyn to have an “excellent” safety profile. The incidence of adverse events was low and similar between Ketasyn and placebo groups.
But why buy a commercial preparation when you can get the same benefits from humble and inexpensive coconut oil?