Q. Both of my parents have dementia. I just read that coconut oil has helped some people reverse dementia. What are your thoughts on this?
I’m considering an experiment with it on my mom. I’d measure any changes in her cognitive condition by doing regular Mini-Mental State Exams (MMSE). Is there any harm in it?
A. There is a video circulating on the web that appears to demonstrate a benefit of coconut oil against Alzheimer’s disease. Not surprisingly, there is tremendous interest in anything that might help slow the progression of this devastating disease.
We consulted Alzheimer’s disease expert Murali Doraiswamy, MD, about this possibility. He pointed out that the brain has difficulty utilizing glucose for energy starting early in Alzheimer’s disease. Coconut oil is metabolized into ketones by the liver and may be used as an alternate fuel by the brain. You can listen to his interview by streaming it online.
One pilot trial of a coconut oil product suggested some benefit, but long-term improvement has not been established. Dr. Doraiswamy noted that coconut oil is widely used as a food in many parts of the world, but there is concern that high doses might adversely affect blood lipids.