Attention conservation notice: Discussion of mostly non-randomized studies based on small sample sizes. Also, I am not a doctor.
Over the past few years a number of case reports for lifestyle or nutritional interventions for decreasing the rate of decline or even reversing dementia, usually with a presumed clinical diagnosis of AD, have gotten some attention.
As a slight digression, the most famous of these is Mary Newport’s book propounding the idea that coconut oil reversed her husbands dementia.
As I noted earlier, coconut oil is the most commonly discussed treatment for Alzheimers in YouTube comments. This may be because it is actionable for YouTube commenters, whereas secretase inhibitors, outside of a clinical trial, are not. Also probably because the Mary Newport videos on YT are pretty popular.
The user neglect on the web forum sdn has expressed skepticism about coconut oil, noting that trials for fatty acids in AD have been negative outside of APOE subgroup analysis. Also, a 2008 study found that giving rats hydrogenated coconut oil led to worse memory performance, although that is probably not a particularly fair diet comparison to the one proposed in humans.
But that is not the point of this blog post.
The point of this blog post is to point out this interesting series of case reports by Dale Bredesen, which found that optimizing a wide breadth of patient characteristics through lifestyle, nutritional, and pharmacological means led to at least some improvement in 9/10 of the patients treated. See below for a summary of the initial characteristics of the patients and the results of the treatments.
Notably, for some of the patients, increasing medium chain triglycerides via coconut oil or a food containing coconut oil was one of the treatment modalities.
As Bredesen notes, the majority of success stories in diseases like HIV and CVD have been due to combination therapy, and such an approach may also lead to better outcomes in AD. This might make it harder for researchers to tease out exactly which treatment led to the improvement, but that’s why we have statistics.
There’s no reason, theoretically, that a clinical trial like this couldn’t be personalized, as long as the algorithm by which patient characteristics are converted into treatment decisions is codified prior to beginning the trial.