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Joined: 30 Jul 2006
Location: East London
|Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:13 am Post subject:
|Can coconut oil ease Alzheimer's? Families who've given it to loved ones swear by it
By Jerome Burne for MailOnline
Published: 00:05, 8 January 2013 | Updated: 15:20, 14 January 2013
One morning last month, Vrajlal Parmar got up, washed and dressed himself, and at 10am boarded the council minibus to a nearby leisure centre.
In the evening, the 67-year-old former production line worker from London took the bus home.
Nothing remarkable there — except that nearly a year earlier Mr Parmar had been diagnosed as being in the late stages of Alzheimer’s.
He’d been given the standard pencil and paper test — called the Mini Mental State Examination — that doctors use to diagnose Alzheimer’s and measure how it’s progressing.
A healthy person would score 30.
The letter Mr Parmar’s family got back from the Cognitive Disorders Clinic at University College London stated that he was ‘too severely affected to score anything at all’. Any drug treatment would be ineffective.
‘Dad was so far gone he couldn’t do anything for himself,’ says his son Kal Parmar, a filmmaker who together with Vrajlal’s wife, Taramati, looks after him at their home in London.
‘He couldn’t wash himself, dress or go to the toilet without help. He had to be watched all the time — the idea of him catching a bus, even a special bus to a dementia centre, was out of the question.
'Often at night he would become hyperactive. We were regularly woken up because Dad was pulling pots and pans off shelves in the kitchen or emptying the cupboards.’
What has made the difference, according to Kal, is a teaspoon of coconut oil twice a day mixed with his food, which Mr Parmar has been taking since July.
The idea that a common vegetable oil — made from coconut meat and which you can buy in supermarkets — could make a difference seems ludicrous, yet in the U.S. there have been hundreds of similar anecdotes of dramatic improvements.
Kal Parmar first heard about coconut oil via a video on YouTube — it was about a doctor in Florida whose husband’s Alzheimer’s had improved amazingly with coconut oil.
Kal says he would probably have dismissed this as one more bit of internet hype if there hadn’t been a favourable comment about the oil from Kieran Clarke, professor of physiological biochemistry at Oxford University and head of the Cardiac Metabolism Research Group.
‘That made me think there must be something in it,’ he says. ‘So I called her up.’
SWITCHING THE BRAIN BACK ON
Professor Clarke, an expert on the way the body makes and uses energy, believes coconut oil and similar compounds might help by boosting the brain’s energy supply.
Most of the time our brains rely on glucose from carbohydrates, but if that isn’t available — because we haven’t eaten anything for a while or because we’re eating almost no carbohydrates — then our brain cells can switch to using the energy from our fat stores.
This energy comes in the form of small molecules called ketones.
As Professor Clarke explains: ‘Coconut oil contains a lot of a particular sort of fat that our bodies can use to make more of the ketone “brain food”.
'It’s known as MCT (medium chain triglycerides) and it’s not found in the fats most of us eat.’
There is now a food supplement — available only in the U.S. — which largely consists of MCT oil, and which might be a healthier source than coconut oil, as we shall explain later.
But why should ketones help people with Alzheimer’s? One of the new ideas about the disease is that it is diabetes of the brain.
Just as diabetics have problems with glucose and insulin, so Alzheimer’s sufferers can’t get enough glucose into brain cells to give them the energy they need to lay down new memories and think clearly.
If you have diabetes, you are three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
As the New Scientist magazine revealed last September, there is evidence that the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers become resistant to insulin. This is disastrous because insulin regulates the brain chemicals that are crucial for memory.
When one U.S. researcher blocked insulin supplies in the brains of laboratory animals, they developed all the plaques and tangles that are a classic mark of Alzheimer’s.
CLEARING THE MEMORY FOG
The doctor in Florida in the YouTube video is Dr Mary Newport, a paediatrician who began using coconut oil to treat her husband, Harry, four years ago.
He had been suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s for eight years. She claims the results after he started taking the oil were remarkable.
‘He began to get his short-term memory back,’ says Dr Newport.
‘His depression lifted, he became more like his old self. The problem he’d had with walking improved. An MRI scan showed his brain had stopped shrinking.’
So what prompted her to use the oil in the first place?
‘Some years ago, I came across a small study suggesting that Alzheimer’s patients had a problem using glucose in the brain and that ketones could be an alternative source of fuel.
The study suggested a patented drink that boosted ketone levels improved memory and thinking skills in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.’
A follow-up paper on this was published in the journal BMC Neuroscience in 2008. Dr Newport found out the patented drink contained MCT oil extracted from coconuts.
‘The patented product still wasn’t on the market, so I thought it would be worth trying coconut oil itself,’ she says.
Her accounts of Harry’s improvement, illustrated with videos on YouTube, prompted hundreds of people to share their positive experience of the oil (traditionally used in the tropics for everything from cooking to protecting wood).
One carer of a man with dementia reported: ‘His ability to speak and recall words is better, but not his ability to make good decisions.’
The carer of another man who’d had dementia for ten years said: ‘His reaction to the oil was very gradual, but his mood is so much better.’
Dr Newport recently added MCT oil to her husband’s regime because the combination gives a more steady supply of ketones, she says.
While MCT supplies more ketones, most are gone from the body in three hours. Coconut oil provides fewer ketones, but they last up to eight hours.
Let us be clear, coconut oil doesn’t appear to be a cure. Furthermore, none of these accounts prove anything scientifically.
They are just anecdotes and until there is a proper controlled trial against a placebo, few medical professionals will feel the case for coconut oil has been made.
THE TROUBLE WITH DEMENTIA DRUGS
These stories, however, do suggest pure coconut oil — and the MCT oil that can be extracted from it — is worth investigating.
Currently, the only type of drug available for Alzheimer’s patients, known as a cholinesterase inhibitor, works by boosting the amount of a brain chemical they are lacking.
It slows memory decline in about a third of patients for between six months and a year.
Last year, the NHS spent more than £70 million on the most widely used brand, Aricept. Its potential side-effects include nausea, diarrhoea and slow heart rhythms, which can lead to fainting.
Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent trying to develop drugs to clear the plaques of damaged protein in the brain that are the classic sign of Alzheimer’s, but all have failed to get a licence.
So could tackling the energy supply to the brain be another option?
One expert who thinks it’s worth investigating is Professor Rudy Tanzi, director of the Genetics and Ageing Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.
In a recent article for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, he explained why coconut oil might work.
‘Virgin coconut oil contains the fats that can be converted into ketone bodies, which can serve as an alternate energy source for the brain.
'The ketone bodies could potentially provide energy to the glucose-deprived brains of Alzheimer’s patients.’
ARE THERE ANY DRAWBACKS?
He stressed that, as yet, there was no evidence —– and warned that coconut oil itself has its own down-side.
‘The fats (found in coconut oil) can be potentially harmful to the heart, so it would be wise to regularly monitor cholesterol and triglyceride levels if you are taking it.’
Anyone interested in boosting their ketone supply in this way has three options — at least in the U.S.
As well as coconut oil there is MCT oil, which can be bought over the counter and has been used by some athletes for years (ketones also power muscles), and the patented food supplement drink that triggered Dr Newport’s original experiment.
The more expensive patented supplement is called Axona, and has a licence from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as a medical food for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s who are taking a drug such as Aricept. It’s not available in the UK.
‘The attraction of Axona for doctors is that it provides a well-studied, pure and concentrated dose of the ketone-producing properties found in coconut oil, while eliminating the multitude of triglyceride-elevating components it can contain,’ says Dr Richard S. Isaacson, associate professor of clinical neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Food company Nestle recently bought a stake in the manufacturer, Acera, and is planning the sort of large, expensive clinical trial that, if successful, could get Axona a drug licence.
‘This would encourage more doctors to use it and insurance companies would pay for it — at the moment most don’t,’ says James Galvin, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at New York University.
Professor Galvin is the author of an article in the June edition of Neurodegenerative Disease Management that recommends taking Axona in combination with the Aricept-type drugs. (He, like Dr Isaacson, is a consultant for the manufacturer Acera).
‘It’s a rational approach that may result in maximum preservation of cognitive function,’ he says.
‘The ketone-boosting approach to Alzheimer’s seems to work in about half the patients. I’d recommend coconut oil as well if there was some good trial evidence for it.’
This evidence could soon be coming from the first coconut trial now being set up by Dave Morgan, professor of molecular pharmacology and physiology and head of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute in Florida.
‘I was very impressed by the anecdotal evidence gathered by Dr Newport,’ he says. ‘Patients want to know if it works and who is going to benefit, but our physicians have no scientific basis to advise them.
‘It will be a placebo-controlled trial on patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. I don’t expect it to slow the progression of the disease, but it does seem to improve some of the symptoms.’
WHAT ABOUT SCIENTIFIC PROOF?
Here in the UK most experts are, perhaps understandably, sceptical of the coconut oil claims.
‘There is a huge placebo response in Alzheimer’s,’ warns Professor Robert Howard, professor of old age psychiatry and psychopathology at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
‘It’s a remitting and relapsing disease, so there are often times when things seem to be getting better.
‘It is important to protect patients from false hope and not expose them to quackery. I’m not sure there is a problem with glucose getting into brain cells but if I were to follow that line I think an existing diabetes drug like metformin would be a better bet than coconut oil.
‘All sorts of things can help patients feel better — music, massage, having a kitten. If people believe coconut oil improves symptoms it probably won’t do any harm.’
However, in some people large amounts can cause diarrhoea.
The Alzheimer’s Society, which has just had its research funding boosted by the Government, says while it ‘wouldn’t discourage anyone from taking it . . . there is not enough evidence to suggest that coconut oil or ketones have benefits for people with Alzheimer’s, so we would not consider funding research into it’.
However, David Smith, professor of pharmacology at the Physiology Institute at Oxford University and director of Optima (Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing), insists this is a mistake.
‘We have no way of knowing if coconut oil is truly effective, but given the scale of the Alzheimer’s crisis facing us, and that there’s a rational mechanism for why it could work, it’s obviously crying out for a proper trial.’
And people are hungry for information on anything that might help with Alzheimer’s.
When Kal Parmar talked to a local newspaper about his father’s improvement, he received more than 150 emails asking for help.
So far about a dozen people in the UK have come back to him saying they had someone in their family on coconut oil, in some cases with impressive results following Dr Newport’s reports.
Recently, following Dr Newport’s example, Kal has added a teaspoon of MCT oil twice a day to his father’s regimen.
Mr Parmar says: ‘Before we started him on coconut oil, Dad’s speech was gone and he couldn’t remember his name or his date of birth.
'Now you can have a simple conversation with him. We go for walks.
'He even remembers his national insurance number. We’re so happy.’
Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was A Cure?
Mary T. Newport, M.D. grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, attended Xavier University for pre-medicine, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1978. She trained in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati and completed her fellowship in neonatology, the care of sick and premature newborns,at the Medical University Hospital in Charleston, SC. She practiced neonatology in Florida since 1983 and served as founding medical director for two newborn intensive care units. After taking some time off to care for Steve, she resumed medical practice at the opposite end of the spectrum and is now making home visits to patients who are in end-of-life hospice care. Dr. Newport has been married to Steve Newport since 1972 and they have two daughters and a grandson.
In 2008, she wrote an article, “What If There Was a Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and No One Knew?” relaying her family’s experience with this disease and her research into a dietary intervention that may benefit persons with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. September 27, 2011, marked the date of the release of her book, Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was A Cure? The Story of Ketone.The Second Edition was released in April 2013. The book has also been translated and published in German, Japanese and French. Her latest effort was released in August 2015, entitled The Coconut Oil and Low-Carbohydrate Solution for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Other Diseases, a practical guide to using coconut oil and MCT oil and a sensible approach to lowering carbs in the diet to increase ketones, which provide alternative fuel for the brain
This just skims the surface of what Coconut Oil did for my husband, Steve Newport in under 2 months:
An Update from Dr. Mary Newport
February 23, 2016
It has been nearly 8 years since Steve improved with coconut oil. He improved very significantly and steadily the first year and remained stable for 2 more years. He began having seizures in summer 2013 starting with a head injury from a fall and did not fully recover. In spite of this serious setback, I feel it was well worth the extra quality time that we had together as a family. He remained in our home with the help of our wonderful caregivers and had minimal further worsening over the next two years. I cannot help but think that ketones played an important role in all of this. Although he lost his battle with Alzheimer’s on January 2, 2016, at age 65, there is now at least hope for others who are at risk or in earlier stages of this horrible disease, and their families might actually win their fight. We will continue to bring more awareness and research to this and future projects to find a cure.
I want to thank everyone who has sent me testimonials for your loved ones who have tried coconut oil and or MCT oil. I have received over 400, and while some people have no response, the vast majority has reported improvements in cognitive functions and overall quality of life. I am overjoyed that so many people have benefited from this food-based intervention as my late husband Steve! These testimonials have helped to get grants for research at the University of South Florida (USF) Byrd Alzheimer Institute, where humane animal studies have been completed and a clinical trial of coconut oil in 65 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease is underway, funded by an anonymous foundation. This is a pilot study that will look at whether there is symptomatic improvement and also if this treatment will delay progression to Alzheimer’s disease. Several small and larger studies are taking place in the USA and Japan and other areas of the world, and a much larger three-year study of MCT oil for prevention of Alzheimer’s in people with mild cognitive impairment will take place in Canada, funded by the Alzheimer’s Association.
Steve asked for his brain to be donated to the Florida Brain Bank which is a research study for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. We hope to find what he truly suffered from, be it Alzheimer’s or Lewy Body, or a combination of these two horrible diseases, and if ketones produced a visible impact on his brain to aid in the search for a cure.
Ketones as an alternative fuel are also under study at USF in the lab under the direction of Dominic D’Agostino, Ph.D. for the treatment of cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), wound healing, oxygen toxicity, epilepsy, and status epilepticus, using ketogenic diets that contain medium chain triglycerides and also ketone esters. The cancer studies are looking at combinations of ketogenic diets with hyperbaric oxygen and glucose lowering substances to further enhance the effect on killing cancer cells, which thrive on glucose but cannot use ketones while preserving normal cells. Results of several of these studies have now been published and others are forthcoming.
Studies of ketone esters for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases urgently need to be undertaken but funding for mass production of the ester and clinical testing has not yet materialized. For now, you can provide ketones to the brain as an alternative fuel by consuming foods that contain medium chain triglycerides to produce ketones. What do you have to lose?
'And he (the devil) said to him: To thee will I give all this power, and the glory of them; for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will, I give them'. Luke IV 5-7.
Joined: 13 Jan 2007
Location: Westminster, LONDON, SW1A 2HB.
|Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:56 pm Post subject:
|Breath test could save lives by diagnosing deadly cancers earlier
Many of the most deadly cancers have few symptoms early
Laura Donnelly, health editor
30 JANUARY 2017 • 6:01AM
A simple breath test could save lives by diagnosing deadly cancers early.
British research shows the breathalyser is 85 per cent accurate at identifying stomach and oesophageal cancers, which between them affect 16,000 men and women a year.
Both types of cancer are often diagnosed late, leading to poor survival rates.
Scientists hope the new breath test will ultimately lead to cancers being spotted earlier, resulting in more effective treatment and saved lives.
It is also expected to help doctors avoid unnecessary endoscopy examinations - unpleasant diagnostic procedures that require a flexible telescope to be inserted down the throat and into the stomach.
A breath test could be used as a non-invasive, first-line test to reduce the number of unnecessary endoscopies. In the longer term this could also mean earlier diagnosis and treatment, and better survival
Dr Sheraz Markar, one of the trial researchers from Imperial College London
The procedure is expensive and can be uncomfortable. Once diagnosed, around 85 per cent of sufferers die within five years. By the time symptoms appear, the disease is often in later stages.
But scientists believe the new tests, which measures five different chemicals in each breath, could make it simpler to screen patients earlier.
The chemicals give vital clues on whether someone has cancer or a less serious gastric condition.
Dr Sheraz Markar, one of the trial researchers from Imperial College London, said: "At present the only way to diagnose oesophageal cancer or stomach cancer is with endoscopy. This method is expensive, invasive and has some risk of complications.
"A breath test could be used as a non-invasive, first-line test to reduce the number of unnecessary endoscopies. In the longer term this could also mean earlier diagnosis and treatment, and better survival."
Each year in the UK around 6,682 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer and 4,576 die from the disease.
There are 8,919 cases of oesophageal cancer, affecting the food pipe or gullet, with 7,790 deaths.
For the new study breath samples were collected from 335 patients at three London hospitals. Of these, 163 had been diagnosed with oesophageal or stomach cancer while 172 were shown to be cancer-free after undergoing endoscopy tests.
The results, presented at the European Cancer Congress meeting in Amsterdam, showed that the test was both good at identifying those patients who had cancer, and unlikely to produce a false diagnosis.
Over the next three years, the researchers plan to run a larger trial including patients not yet diagnosed with cancer.
The team is also working on breath tests for other types of cancer, such as those affecting the bowel and pancreas.
Dr Justine Alford from Cancer Research UK welcomed the findings. "The next step is to see if it can detect the disease at its earliest stages," she said.
'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."