This following content is provided for information only. It is not intended to replace consultation with appropriately qualified medical practitioner.
We feel sad when some of our friends show signs of Alzheimer’s and are preparing for a future with worse symptoms of this disease, especially loss of memory and ability to take care of oneself. Most of us only know that no cure for this disease has been found and we can’t do anything about that.
The role of doctors and Western medicine in our life has led us to believe that if the doctors say there is no cure then there is no cure. And we tend to brush aside any natural or herbal therapies as rubbish or snake oil medicine, including those supported by scientific research.
It may be a good idea to reconsider our stand against natural medicine and objectively look at the research around natural especially nutritional therapies.
If that’s the way to go, we will find that there are some natural ways to stop the Alzheimer’s disease from getting worse and/ or to somehow restore the brain functions to some extent. The two well researched approaches are 1/ using Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) in coconut oil and 2/ using Bacopa monnieri extract (rau đắng).
1. MCT in Coconut Oil
Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT), which is 60% of raw coconut oil can be used to stop the disease progression and improve the symptoms. This protocol was first tried by Dr Mary Newport for her husband in 2008.
In her own words in a podcast, she said: “My husband, Steve, developed early onset Alzheimer’s with symptom starting when he was only 51 years old, and it just continued to snowball. And we got to 2008, so seven years later, and he was really on a downward spiral and we were pretty desperate…There were very few clinical trials available and he wasn’t qualifying. But then two drugs came along that he could try out for, and he was scheduled two days in a row. And it happened on a press release about a medical food that was going to come out in about a year, that turned out… now it’s called Axona. But it was still being studied and it said that it improved the memories and cognition of nearly half the people with Alzheimer’s who took it and didn’t say what it was, what it did.
So I found their patent application online and I learned all of this really interesting research about Alzheimer’s as a type of diabetes of the brain, that there’s a problem of insulin resistance into getting glucose into brain cells, and if you could provide ketones as an alternative fuel to the brain, that that could potentially improve people with Alzheimer’s disease. So I was fascinated and I knew what MCT oil was. This product was MCT oil, medium chain triglyceride oil. ….
And so I thought, “Okay, well, this is something I could do for him.” And I didn’t know I could get MCT oil over the counter. And I learned that it was extracted from coconut oil. So the first thing we did was actually use coconut oil, which is the richest natural source of medium chain triglycerides. So it just happened that he had a day before and a
day after we started coconut oil, because he was scheduled for these two clinical studies testing, and they were in two different cities. And he had a dramatic improvement in his score from the day before to the day after he took coconut oil, and it was really fascinating. And it was very obvious over the next four to five days. For him, he was what we would now call a dramatic responder. He’s somebody that… he became much more alert, more talkative, the animation came back and his face. He said it was like a light switch came on in his head the day he started coconut oil, and he said that over and over. And then we started eventually adding MCT oil to try to get as ketone levels
higher. And I was reluctant to give up coconut oil because it has many health benefits, and it kills bacteria, viruses, other things that could possibly contribute to Alzheimer’s. I just didn’t know and I didn’t want to take a chance of stopping that, so I started mixing it and he actually improved quite substantially over the first year. He improved so much
that he was able to work as a volunteer in the hospital where I worked in the supply warehouse.
(In another place of nutraingredients-usa Dr Mary detailed that before adding MCT she gave her husband about a little over 2 table spsoons of coconut oil a day)
In the conclusion of an article by Fernando et al, 2015 entitled. The role of dietary coconut for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: potential mechanisms of action on Cambridge University Press 2015, the researchers said that
“A small number of clinical trials and animal studies using a formulation of MCT have reported significant improvement of cognition in AD patients….
Coconut is, however, widely available, inexpensive, non-toxic and highly palatable, and consuming a regular intake of good quality coconut oil or another coconut product may become a simple yet important dietary change that may be shown in the future to reduce the risk of AD.“
The important point is the coconut oil used must be cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil. If you are not used to having raw coconut oil, it is better to start with 1 teaspoon a day and gradually increase to 2 tablespoons a day. It may be taken with food such as porridge, soups or as spread on healthy bread like sour dough or sprouted grain bread.
2 Bacopa monnieri (Rau đắng)
* Bacopa monnieri is also known as Brahmi in Indian Ayurvedic medicine.
This is a short article by Alzheimer’s Organisation about Bacopa monnieri and Alzheimers:
“Bacopa monnieri is an herb that has long been known to improve memory and cognitive ability. In recent years, Bacopa monnieri has been examined as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers have found that Bacopa monnieri has several abilities which could treat Alzheimer’s. Similar to Salvia Officinalis (sage), Bacopa monnieri inhibits the harmful enzyme cholinesterase. Bacopa monnieri also reduces the formation of amyloid fibrils and removes the amyloid fibrils which have already accumulated. Amyloid fibrils are
clumps of abnormal materials that have built up in the brain. Amyloid fibrils are believed to be one of the major causes of Alzheimer’s.” at the University of Oklahoma conducted a study examining Bacopa monnieri’s effects on brain cells affected by
Alzheimer’s. The study found that Bacopa monnieri had a beneficial effect and concluded that Bacopa monnieri is “a promising agent in Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of cognitive impairment.”(Chaudhari et al, 2017)
Another study conducted by Researchers at Oregon University examined a group individuals age 65 or older. The study found that individuals that took a Bacopa monnieri supplement had increased scores on cognition tests compared to similar individuals whom did not take Bacopa monnieri. Interestingly, researchers also found that the subjects who consumed Bacopa monnieri had lower amounts of depression and anxiety when compared to the individuals which did not take Bacopa monnieri. (Calabrese et al. 2008)
Another clinical randomized, placebo-controlled double- blind trial by Morgan and Stevens in 2010 in Australia reported :
“One hundred and thirty-six (136) subjects volunteered; 103 met entry criteria, 98 commenced, and 81 completed the trial. Bacopa significantly improved verbal learning, memory acquisition, and delayed recall”.
You can find Bacopa monnieri extract in almost every health food store. For example, iherb in USA there are good Bacopa monnierie extracts to choose. The best and most expensive but also cost effective is Himalayan organic Bacopa.
In New Zealand and Australia, we find Swisse Ultiboost Memory + Focus at Chemist warehouse is the most suitable not only at affordable price but also has vitamin B and Ginkgo (Bạch quả), another herb that has been found to improve cognitive functioning and behavioural symptoms in patients with aging-associated cognitive impairment or dementia (Napryeyenko, Borzenko, 2007).
Another option for people with no financial constraint is to use Redimind supplement at Nutreance. Redimind has Bacopa monnieri, Ginkgo and three other ingredients that benefit the brain according to research. A clinical Princeton Consumer Research placebo controlled study with 50 healthy participants found out that by the end of 30 days, performance increased by 51% to 14.8 items out of 20. By comparison, the performance of the placebo group only increased by 8.6% over the entire tria.
The cheapest option for healthy people over 60 years of age to prevent memory and cognitive decline is to take 1 tablespoon of raw coconut oil a day and grow Bacopa monnieri or brahmi plants (cây rau đắng) in the garden for tea or food. Wishing you all the best in stopping memory decline and/ or improving memory.
by Nguyễn văn Tư
Bachelor of Natural Medicine – Naturopathy 2016
* Sydneysiders can find brahmi plants here.