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Is coconut oil helpful for Alzheimer’s dementia symptoms?

This month we are collaborating with the Alzheimer's Association in San Diego to answer some common questions from caregivers and loved ones of dementia patients. For more information on the upcoming Caregiver & Family Conference on July 18th please visit www.ALZ.ORG/SANDIEGO

  • Does Gingko Biloba improve memory and/or prevent the progression of dementia?

  • Ginkgo is not likely to improve memory or prevent dementia. There were some preliminary studies that suggested taking this herbal supplement might help the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s. This led people to assume taking Ginkgo would help prevent memory loss or dementia. Further studies have actually shown no proof that taking Ginkgo is beneficial for prevention or treatment of memory loss/dementia. In fact, this herbal remedy could actually cause more issues for some patients as it has many drug interactions and was recently linked to an increase risk of stroke in elderly patients taking it long term.

  • What medication is the best to treat my loved ones early onset dementia/Alzheimer’s?

  • A common misconception out there is that there is a cure or treatment available for dementia/Alzheimer’s. When in fact, all of the medications currently available are just to treat the symptoms and minimize cognitive decline. Many factors come into play when treating someone with dementia/Alzheimer’s. The decision to start medication and which type of medication must be individualized for each patient depending on the type of issues they are experiencing. It’s also important to understand it may take up to 3 months to see the effects of the medication and therapy should be re-evaluated every 3-6 months in order to tailor and adjust any medication based on individual response.

  • Is coconut oil helpful for dementia/Alzheimer’s symptoms?

  • Recently in the media coconut oil has been promoted to help “lift the fog” and minimize some dementia symptoms. This is relatively new information that has not been adequately studied to provide a clear recommendation at this time. What I can share is that if you choose to try something of this nature you need to make sure you watch your fat intake and closely monitor your cholesterol. Most coconut oil products available on the market today have 12g of fat in each teaspoonful. It’s also very costly, so I would recommend holding off on this until more studies can validate its effectiveness and safety.

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