I’m currently treating a patient who has severe Parkinson’s, as well as dementia with Lewy bodies (Lewy bodies are an abnormal protein in the brain stem and the hippocampus-areas that control movement, coordination, and reasoning). It’s not a great situation, but he is a tough nut. Currently he is confined to a motorized scooter, but his goal is to be able to use a walker-I’m working him as hard as possible to get to that goal, seeing him four times per week, each session lasting one hour. Most of the time he is lucid, but there have been times when he hallucinates, talks gibberish, reaches for things that aren’t there, and other symptoms of the Lewy body dementia. He has his share of drugs; Aricept, Exelon, and a couple of others, which have their share of side effects. But, I came across an article, touting a natural remedy that is showing great promise in treating Alzheimer’s, a close cousin of dementia and Parkinson’s.

In a recent study, an experimental drug, Ketasyn, brought about improvement in half of the people who took it. Most drugs talk about slowing the progression of the disease, but you never hear the word ‘improvement.’ ¬†And, the main ingredient in this drug is medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s), derived from coconuts.

How does ¬†coconut oil and other MCT’s work? By increasing the body’s production of ketones. You may recall the word ketones-I spoke of it several times regarding fasting, and diet and weight loss (the Atkins diet is all about getting the user into a ketonic state). Ketones are compounds that are created when body fat is broken down for energy. When the body runs out of carbs to use for fuel, it starts using body fat-that’s why people on low-carb diets lose weight (fat). Why is this important? It turns out that ketones are a powerful fuel for the brain, especially when the brain is injured or impaired, which is the case with my patient.

Normally, brains cells live on glucose, but impaired brain cells cannot metabolize glucose well-but they can use ketones. There are over 20 different studies on the effect of ketones on the human brain. Some of the key results: 1). One study found that when the brain uses ketones, it produces 25% more energy than when it uses glucose. 2). Another study found that a ketone-producing diet resulted in a 39% increase in blood flow to the brain. 3). Mice put on a ketone-producing diet had fewer brain plaques that mice fed a standard diet. When you add MCT oils to a low-carb diet, the body is flooded with ketones, resulting in amazing improvement in brain function.

Coconut oil is easy to consume. You can cook with it, put it in a smoothie, or take it by the spoonful. I’ve just started using it with my patient-I’ll keep you updated on his progress.

I’ve talked before on my disdain for abdominal crunches-I never use them myself or with any of my clients. Crunches not only aren’t very effective, they can be damaging to the spinal discs, and proper technique is difficult for most people. Now, a new study at Indiana State university finds that crunches have no effect on athletic performance and do not help develop a six-pack ab appearance. So, why do them?????

I am lovingly referred to by several of my clients as a ‘posture policeman.’ I notice that when people get tired, they stand in a stooped or slouched posture, which only makes muscles and ligaments work harder to keep you balanced. That extra effort leads to neck and back pain, along with other problems. Following are some simple adjustments to straighten you up: 1). Pretend you are taking off a T-shirt by crossing your arms and pulling it over your head-it’ll straighten you right up. 2). Tighten your stomach and butt muscles and pull your shoulder blades together-it will immediately lift your chest. 3). Keep your knees straight and relaxed with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.