Coconut Oil, Ketones and Alzheimer's

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Plaques and Tangles - Just My Opinion

I think in the end the tangles will turn out to be an effect of, and not a cause of, AD. The tubular structures that make up the tangles serve as a sort of skeleton for the neuron and its axons. When the neuron is alive and healthy these tubules are well organized. I think the tangles are the product of a neuron that is dying or dead and the tubules retract from the axons, which can be very long, and tangle in the process. I think the plaques will turn out to be a similar phenomenon. For example, let's say a virus takes over a neuron; the neuron may then produce an abnormal protein, instead of the protein it is designed to produce. Something like this happens in other cells when a virus takes over. One example I can think of is when a rhinovirus (the common cold) takes over cells in the respiratory tract - there is an incredible amount of mucus produced by these cells. In the case of AD, the neuron is not functioning normally, and therefore may not produce the protein that it normally would produce, but instead produces an abnormal protein that then accumulates outside of the cells. This protein may be toxic to other neurons and worsen the situation but may not be the original cause of the situation (AD.) As we age, neurons are going to die and where do the remnants go? How would they be removed from the brain, which is different in so many ways from our other organs. The cells of the bowel slough off into the intestine and are carried away when they die. There isn't a similar mechanism for this to happen in the brain. All of this is just my opinion only, no proof.

Why we are using the MCT oil/Coconut oil mixture

Rose asked me if we are using Axona and why or why not. We don't use Axona. It costs $100 per month for just one dose a day, is a prescription and Steve is doing well with what we are doing. I have read about some people who feel that the effect of the single dose of Axona wears off after a few hours and they have continued to use MCT oil and/or coconut oil later in the day. I have read that the people who make Axona say they only recommend one dose a day because they only studied one dose a day. We are using MCT oil because Steve's ketone levels were higher with MCT oil than coconut oil, but were also gone twice as fast (by three hours). We kept the coconut oil because the levels last longer (at least 6-7 hours). I figure that by mixing the two he will get the benefit of the higher levels from the MCT oil and the longer lasting levels of the coconut oil. Also, there are several other properties of coconut oil that may be helpful, such as the anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties of capric and lauric acid, 2 of the medium chain triglycerides that are not found in Axona. There is some research by Dr. Ruth Itzhaki and others showing that, in certain people, the herpes simplex type I virus that causes fever blisters/cold sores is present in the plaques in the Alzheimer's brain. These two fatty acids kill this type of virus. Steve has a history of frequent and fairly severe fever blisters on his mouth and since we started using coconut oil has had only two very tiny blisters in the past year. The virus lives in the nerve and the nerves to the mouth start deep in the brain near the region affected by Alzheimer's. It seems logical to me that if an outbreak can occur on the lip it could also occur in the brain elsewhere along the path of the nerve. Coconut oil can also help one absorb certain vitamins and other nutrients better from the intestine. Some of the components of coconut oil support the growth of the normal bacteria that are supposed to be in the bowel.

Most of the time now Steve is getting just over 2 tablespoons of a mixture of MCT oil and coconut oil, three times a day, but we also use coconut oil to cook in and sometimes use coconut milk or grated coconut, and depending on how much is in the food, I may subtract a little from the mixture that he takes at that meal. This is not cut in stone. It is just what we arrived at after a lot of experimentation. We found out what the limits of his tolerance were for the oils and when we reached the point that he was having some diarrhea we cut back. Many people cannot handle as much of this as Steve can, so each person will to find their own limit. We push it to the limit to try to maximize how much ketone he will receive - the more medium chain triglyceride in his diet, the more ketones he should have available for his brain. That is how I look at it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Curry and Alzheimer's disease

There was a report on BBC News that "weekly curry may fight dementia." It was reported by Professor Murali Doraiswamy of Duke University at the Royal College of Psychiatrists annual meeting, that eating curry once or twice a week appears to lower the risk of AD and dementia. He is assuming that it is the curcumin in the curry that is making the difference and noted that there are now studies in progress in animals using much higher levels. The part of this story that has caught my attention is the curry, which is usually made with coconut milk. Coconut milk is loaded with coconut oil, therefore contains medium chain fatty acids, which will be converted in the liver to ketones. If there is not enough curcumin in curry to make a difference maybe this other ingredient will!

Emulsification of coconut oil/MCT oil

I want to share something I just learned about a way to make coconut oil blend in easier to certain foods. "Emulsification" of an oil does a couple of things, 1. makes it mixable with foods that contain water, 2. makes the oil particles much smaller so that more is absorbed and potentially higher ketone levels could occur. I want to thank Marjie, who is in the restaurant business, and told me that the addition of "lethicin" to the CO and/or MCT oil will emulsify it. So I bought some liquid soy lethicin at the local health food store that she recommended (Fearn brand for about $11 per quart) and have been experimenting a bit. It is very thick. I overdid it the first couple of times, but found that 1/4 teaspoon in about 8 ounces of the oils seems to do the trick. We add it to yogurt or kefir (liquid yogurt) and it mixes in much better with than without the lethicin. I plan to try it today with coffee, etc. There are many more ways that this could make a difference and easier for people to use this, such as orange juice, tea, coffee, smoothies, salad dressings and might not layer out on things like oatmeal so much. I plan to add it to plain old coconut oil also to see if it make its liquid at a lower temperature. Will get back to this after some experimentation over the next few days.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Getting the Message Out - Any help is greatly appreciated!

Any help with getting this message out is very much appreciated. You never know who may come across it and then may experience a life changing event for the better. That is why I spend so much time at this and also carry copies of my article and diet guidelines in our car. Hearing about a response like my husband's really makes my day and makes me feel like the effort is worthwhile. I have heard back from and read about very many who have had improvements, some dramatic.

Steve and I make the circuit of the local health food and Asian stores every couple of weeks and they make copies available to their customers. This is how I started getting the message out when I couldn't get people in the media and the Alz Assoc to investigate this and tell people. I tried to get their attention very intensely for the first six weeks after Steve had his dramatic response and still do, but decided after their lack of response that at the very least, I had to go with the grass roots method to tell as many as possible. I could not live with myself, knowing how many could be helped, if I did not try to share this with other people. I suspect that the high profile people I have written to either haven't gotten or grasped the message, or just believe it is too easy to be real and toss it aside. The very long list includes Oprah (many times), Dr. Oz, Michael J. Fox (this may help with Parkinson's as well,) Maria Shriver (who we talked with personally in Washington DC and handed her a copy of my article and several related research papers,) Sandra Day O'Connor, Ellen Degeneres, Jenny McCarthy, David Hyde Pierce, Elizabeth Hasselbach from The View, several different people from the Today Show, many politicians, including Hillary Clinton and Obama,) all of the major nightly news channels, CNN, USA Today and many other newspapers, the producers of the HBO Alzheimer's Project (in person in D.C.)

I do want to mention that the regional newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times, did write up a story about what happened with Steve, and getting the message out grew by leaps and bounds thereafter, so I am very grateful to the editors and the author, Eve Hosley-Moore, for publishing the story last October 29, 2008. It was also then picked up by many groups who have published the information in their newsletters.

Also, to anyone out there who has seen an improvement, it would be very helpful and important to share your story with Dr. Veech to get the funding he needs to study his ketone in Alzheimer's disease. You can either email me details at or directly to Dr. Richard Veech at His email address and other contact information can also be found under the heading of "ketones" in Wikipedia, for anyone who wants to verify his expertise. There are also copies of several of his articles on ketones available to print out on my website

APOE4 and medium chain triglycerides

Due to results of studies done by Accera in developing Axona, there is a possible misconception that the medium chain triglycerides will not help people with AD who are APOE4. Steve is APOE4 and responded very well to the medium chain fatty acids. I also read this before trying this with Steve, and therefore expected that MCT oil would not do much for him. I decided to try it anyway in the form of coconut oil for Steve and the rest is history of the happiest kind.

Axona has only one of the medium chain triglycerides (C:8) but coconut oil has C:6, C:8, C:10, C:12 (all medium chain triglycerides) and five other fatty acids, including some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, including the essential fatty acid omega-6 (but no omega-3, which is necessary and should be supplemented.) It also happens to have some phytosterol, which is one of the substances that lowers cholesterol and is the basic component in some of the cholesterol lowering agents! It is very possible that each of the fatty acids in coconut oil plays an important and different role in the metabolism of our brains and other organs. Another possibility is that the Axona folks did not have a huge number of people in their trials and I often wonder if the APOE4 problem was a fluke in their study. Also, some people in their studies had "mild cognitive impairment," not yet diagnosed with A.D. Dr. Richard Veech of the NIH, an expert in ketones who makes a ketone ester, says that he can think of no biochemical reason why Axona wouldn't work for someone with APOE4.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Joan from website asked me about a study (Danon, by Dannon Yogurt) using high levels of omega-3 for memory. Regarding fish oil, I believe that is very important to include lots of it in the diet, even more after reading a book that I am just finishing by Andrew Stoll, M.D., director of Neuropharmacology at Harvard, called "The Omega Connection." Coconut oil has everything you might want in an oil, including the essential omega-6, but has absolutely none of the essentail omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed in every cell membrane, for normal cell signaling and other functions, and is a very large component of the lipids in the brain. Much of it is passed from mother to child and Dr. Stoll believes that Americans have been losing the normal amounts we should have with each generation due to the way we eat. Americans have been found to be very deficient compared to other populations, and Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, a researcher at the NIH, has found that there is a direct correlation between omega 3 levels in populations throughout the world and frequency of problems like depression, bipolar disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, schizophrenia, dementia, diabetes, premature birth, etc, etc. For example, among the populations they studied, Japan has the highest fish intake (140 pounds per person per year!!) and the highest levels of omega-3 and the lowest rates of these diseases. The also have one of the lowest incidences of premature birth and infant mortality in the world. What researchers have learned is that omega-6 promotes vasoconstriction and is inflammatory (part of our immune response) and omega-3 promotes vasodilation and is anti-inflammatory. They balance each other. The American diet is so out of whack that instead of the 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that would be desirable, Americans consume something like a 20 or 40:1 ratio, since we mostly eat soybean, cannola and olive oil which are high in omega 6 and have little or no omega-3 relatively speaking.
For several years, Steve and I have been taking enough fish oil to equal at least 900 mg per day of the DHA part of the oil. We started doing this because there was a study in progress using this amount. I know that omega-3 is an essential fatty acid and didn't want to risk getting the placebo, so we just started using it. After reading Dr. Stoll's book, we are going to be taking at least twice that much. There are some concentrated fish oils that you can take by the teaspoon that are tested to rule out heavy metal contamination, such as mercury, that we are using instead of capsules because of how many we would need to take. We also eat salmon, fesh tuna and other fish at least twice a week.
Our diet has changed dramatically over the last three to four years to try to get away from overly processed foods to more whole foods, since these contain anti-oxidants and other imprtant phytonutrients that we wouldn't get otherwise. I have actually lost about 80 pounds since we started doing this around 2006! In my diet guidelines I encourage people to also include omega-3s in the diet.