Coconut oils and other Omega-3 fatty acids-rich sources for complementary treatment of Alzheimer

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Coconut oils and other Omega-3 fatty acids-rich sources for complementary treatment of Alzheimer’s.


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia that causes a general decline in mental abilities whose severity is sufficient to interfere with everyday activities1.


About 5 million elderly in the United States may suffer from AD, and actually there’s still no effective pharmacological treatment to stop this disease’s progression1.Recent researches however, pointed out towards new possible alternative solutions to treat Alzheimer’s by using some natural remedies such as Omega-3 fatty acids, Coconut Oil and Ginkgo Biloba.

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While older researches on Omega-3 fatty acids’ action showed no particular effectiveness on treating advanced AD, a newer Dutch research published on the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease pointed out that all those clinical trials only focused on patients with advanced stage disease2. However, Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent the disease’s progression by diminishing the amount of neuronal loss. Omega-3 fatty acids can down-regulation the effects of inflammation that is considered to be the basis of AD, and enhance the microglial phagocytosis of the AD pathogen amyloid-β (Aβ).

Coconut oil supplementation to treat AD instead seems to be a common internet myth, as no extensive researches were ever able to provide enough experimental evidence to back up these claims. Nonetheless, the theory is that coconut oil is rich in caprylic acid, a substance that could be used as alternative fuel by brain cells, effectively preventing glucose starvation associated with AD.

Coconut oil can also help ameliorate AD progression by diminishing Aβ-induced mitochondrial alterations3Several studies showed that regular Ginkgo Biloba consumption could provide some benefits to AD patients. The flavonoid glycosides and terpenoids that constitute the pharmacologically active substances contained in this herb have been suggested as responsible for its neuroprotective effects. A larger review of existing studies showed that Ginkgo supplementation can improve the patient’s ability to perform everyday activities, ameliorate accompanying psychopathological symptoms and increase cognition4. However, further studies are still necessary to define the real size of these effects.

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1. Meds News. C. Butticè “Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – Prevention and Treatment”. October, 21, 2015. Retrieved from http://medsnews.com/health/dementia-and-alzheimers-disease-prevention-and-treatment/ (Accessed October, 2015).

2. Hooijmans, C.R. et al. (2012). “The effects of long-term omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on cognition and Alzheimer’s pathology in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis”. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 28(1), 191-209.

3. Nafar F, Mearow KM. “Coconut oil attenuates the effects of amyloid-β on cortical neurons in vitro.”J. Alzheimers Dis. 2014;39(2):233-7. doi: 10.3233/JAD-131436.

4. Janssen IM, Sturtz S, Skipka G, Zentner A, Velasco Garrido M, Busse R. “Ginkgo biloba in Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review.” Wien Med Wochenschr. 2010 Dec;160(21-22):539-46. doi: 10.1007/s10354-010-0844-8.

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Dr. Claudio Butticè, PharmD.


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