Coconut Oil, Ketones and Alzheimer's

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More on herpes simplex virus and Alzheimer's

On a previous post, I discussed the research conducted by Dr. Ruth Itzhaki in England providing very strong evidence that recurrent infection with herpes simplex in the brain may be the cause of Alzheimer's in certain people, those who are ApoeE4+. Please look back for the details.

Nearly all of us acquire herpes simplex virus at some point and then carry it. When we are young most of us can apparently control these infections more so than when we age. Some people, though, have recurrent outbreaks, usually as fever blisters, or for some, genital lesions. Some people with active virus show no outward symptoms at all. Reactivation of the virus produces inflammation in the brain. Most of the episodes are mild, but over time the effects could be cumulative. An infection such as this could explain why Alzheimer's begins in certain parts of the brain and eventually spreads to other areas. It could also explain the fluctuations that we often see in symptoms - when the virus is latent the person may do a little better, when there is a reactivation and greater inflammation, the person may get worse, a sort of two steps forward (worsening) and one step back (improvement) kind of process.

Steve has a long time history of lengthy outbreaks of fever blisters on his mouth, and had an outbreak around his eye and was quite sick at age 29. I strongly believe that, at least in his case, herpes simplex may be the cause of his Alzheimer's disease and this particularly bad episode could explain why he became symptomatic so early.

Now another group led by Dr. Nancy Sawtell at Cincinnati Children's Medical Center is providing more proof that herpes simplex may be the culprit for some people. She was inspired to do this work after Dr. Ruth Itzhaki visited her lab a few years ago. They have been working with mice in which the Apoe4 allele has been "knocked in" and infected them with the virus. They found that a lot more virus got into the brains of the Apoe4 mice than the non-Apoe4 mice. They are now trying to learn what makes some people more susceptible to the virus. She has found that the viral protein VP 16 is essential in triggering the virus's reactivation. So now they are trying to find substances that may inhibit VP 16 and therefore keep the virus from reactivating.

Dr. Itzhaki, in the meantime, is having difficulty getting funding for continuing her vital research. One skeptic on a review board can keep the board from approving a grant. I believe she and Dr. Sawtell are on the right path - their work needs to continue.

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Using coconut oil and coconut milk

A lot of people have questions about how to incorporate coconut oil into the diet. Steve still takes the mixture of MCT oil and coconut oil, roughly half and half. Since coconut oil is usually semi-solid, at this time of the year especially, I put the container of oil into a large pot filled with warm water and let it melt down, which takes about 20 minutes or so. Then I make a mixture in the quart jars that the MCT oil comes in. I measure out 16 ounces of MCT oil (half of the quart jar)and put it into an empty quart jar using a funnel. Then add 16 ounces of coconut oil to each of the quart containers. I also add a couple teaspoons of liquid soy lethicin to emulsify the mixture (purely optional). I give the bottle a couple of shakes before using it just in case the oils have separated.

Steve has no problem just taking the mixture straight, and sometimes takes it that way, but many people cannot handle that. For breakfast, I mix it into kefir (liquid yogurt that our local mainstream grocery store carries) along with some of his other supplements in powdered form, such as whey protein, L-lysine (which may suppress herpes simplex virus), and D-ribose, which I mention in another post. My daughter convinced me to get a Magic Bullet recently, instead of trying to mix this concoction with a spoon, and I have found it to be a very worthwhile investment for this purpose. [The connection between herpes simplex and Alzheimer's is the subject of another post a while back for those who are interested.]

Mixing the oils with soup is another great way to take it. The oil pretty much disappears with stirring.

Smoothies using coconut milk and/or blending in the MCT oil/coconut oil mixture can be very delicious. I just finished reading a book by Cherie Calbom, The Ultimate Smoothie Book, which has a section on coconut smoothies. She suggests adding coconut oil to the ingredients and blending before adding the ice, to avoid having coconut oil chunks in the smoothie. The recipes look wonderful. The great thing about smoothies is that you can alter them in any number of ways to suit your own tastebuds.

Cherie Calbom also has another book that would be very helpful with many great recipes called The Coconut Diet. For those who are worried about gaining weight by adding coconut oil to the diet, she offers a solution here. Even if you are not trying to lose weight, the recipes will be very appealing.

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