February 18, 2015

Coconut Oil Updates: Dementia and Blood Pressure

I've posted often about the coconut-oil-for-Alzheimer's bandwagon. I've often discussed my concerns about the product's efficacy as a treatment for dementia; just enter "coconut oil" in the search box at the upper right for earlier posts.

Dr. Mary Newport led the charge for the "coconut oil miracle." She fell silent about two years ago but re-emerged last fall with a blog post suggesting she was scaling back her claim.

I continue to read anecdotal reports -- some from people I've met online and respect -- that describe cognitive benefits from coconut oil. But anecdotal reports are not science. My own "anecdotal" experience with 5-HTP turned out to be very unique to me. I'm afraid my early raves about the supplement may have caused disappointing false hope for others.

The Alzheimer's Society of the UK recently released the video below. I knew a clinical trial was underway, examining coconut oil's possible effectiveness in treating dementia. We expect to see the results of that trial in September, finally bringing science to bear on the issue.

Coconut Oil Plus Exercise for Lower Blood Pressure?
The claims for coconut oil as a super health food aren't limited to treating dementia and Alzheimer's. Because of its high saturated fat, health authorities warned against consuming large amounts. Recent research suggests that unprocessed coconut oil -- "virgin coconut oil" -- might not be so dangerous, and could even have positive health results.

recent study reports that a combination of coconut oil and physical exercise might help lower blood pressure. The study was conducted at the Federal University of Paraiba in Brazil and published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

Studying hypertensive rats, researchers found that a daily regimen of coconut oil and exercise training restored baroreflex sensitivity and reduced oxidative stress, thus lowering blood pressure.

Dr. Valdir de Andrade Braga, co-author of the study, said:
This is an important finding as coconut oil is currently being considered a popular "superfood" and is being consumed by athletes and the general public who seek a healthy lifestyle. The possibility of using coconut oil as an adjuvant to treat hypertension adds to the long list of benefits associated with its consumption. Our next step is to start some clinical trials in order to verify whether we can reproduce those findings in hypertensive human patients.
A few cautions: Results from rodent studies are often not replicated in trials with human subjects. I've also noticed a pattern -- enthusiastic promotions for the product often originate in countries where coconut oil production is big business... as it is in Brazil.

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