Can coconut oil treat Alzheimer’s?

We’ve received quite a few questions recently about whether or not coconut oil can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. This is a topic that comes up often, so I thought it would be helpful to provide some background:

The claim

This theory has to do with substances called ketones. The damage caused by Alzheimer’s disrupts the brain’s ability to use its primary energy source, known as glucose. The brain naturally gets a portion of its energy from ketone bodies when glucose is less available (e.g., during fasting, strenuous exercise, and in newborns). Ketones may provide an alternative energy source to the brain’s cells to moderate the damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The body produces ketones when it metabolizes coconut oil and similar substances (fatty acids).

Beyond the headline

Unfortunately, there just isn’t any creditable science to support this idea. It is impossible for us to know how well coconut oil does or does not work in Alzheimer’s disease because there have not been rigorous, large-scale research studies done.

The bottom line

Because there haven’t been any large studies to test the effectiveness of coconut oil, we just can’t say whether it really helps people with Alzheimer’s disease. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. I personally suspect that it has little effect on Alzheimer’s symptoms but, to be fair, I haven’t had any family members, friends or clients who’ve tried it.

My rule of thumb is that if the risks and costs are low, you might consider trying it. If the risks or costs are high, don’t chance it. Think about how you would feel if you gave your loved one something and they lost ground and independence as a result.

Some alternative therapies have substantial risk associated with them; be careful and don’t assume that something that is “natural” is safe. If you are considering trying coconut oil, please consult your doctor first to make sure it will do no harm to the person with dementia.

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175 Responses

  1. Elaine R. says:

    Can a person be on Warfarin and blood pressure pills and take this coconut oil?

  2. Rabiaa Brookes says:

    Have been using it for just over a month now 3 to 4 teaspoons a day (started May 2013) and it is making a wonderful difference, to my wife who has young onset of dementure.
    I has brought renewed hope and each new day is welcomed once more.

  3. jessie P says:

    We started mom on it a year ago. We slowly worked up to 3 tablespoons a day. She is end stage and could only speak one work – yes, no etc. After two or so months she became able to put maybe 3 words together — we were amazed. A side benefit is that she is no longer constipated — she is bedridden and we had a terrible time regulating her bowls. We use the extra Virgin organic coconut oil. It’s delicious. I use it myself now cooking.

  4. Doris Harper says:

    I sincerely believe I have slowed my mother’s progression with the use of coconut oil and the product Kyani.

  5. Imelda mullin says:

    Hi my husband is 46yrs old, he has Ad and vasular dementia. We have two children aged 21yrs and 11yrs. I’m going to try the coconut oil, would love to hear my husband talk again, I miss him

    • Chris says:

      imelda..I am wondering, has the Coconut oil made any difference in your husbands unfortunate condition?

  6. Deb says:

    I am a Nurse and i use Coconut Oil for Oil Pulling and i Love it … and have seen its many benefits my Ex is Diabetic and it has improved his Diabetes …I also wanted to see if Coconut Oil was effective for Alhiemer”s . Reason being, I have a patient who is dear to me .Everytime she cones in to the clinic she is so affected by my presence..she tells me I hope and pray everytime i come in i will see you,you are my Angel…the connection i feel with her has touched my heart and hers….the more the Alhiemer’s progresses the more urgent a look i see in her eyes when she looks at me…It breaks my heart. I want to tell her about this Coconut Oil and how it could possible help her I am torn ,quite possible should i tell her and my work finds out i could lose my job! But it keeps pulling me in to tell her husband about this and maybe it will improve her memory. though she is seeing Neurology about this and I know her Neurologist personallly i may ask her fisst . Funny how live takes us through our little journey’s be it in our mind or in our Hearts of Hearts.

  7. r darbari says:

    dear sirs
    i tried it on my father. slowly but surely, there has been improvements since last two months when i started giving virgin coconut oil to him
    r darbari

  8. Bert says:

    “The Alzheimer’s Society, which has just had its research funding boosted by the Government, says while it ‘wouldn’t discourage anyone from taking it . . .  there is not enough evidence to suggest that coconut oil or ketones have benefits for people with Alzheimer’s, so we would not consider funding research into it’. ”
    When, if ever, does accumulating anecdotal evidence come to be considered as relevant to informing possible pathways of research? As the big drug companies have just announced they are withdrawing major resources from Alzheimer’s research other avenues surely need to be pursued.

    • Steve Luke says:

      I have several email newsletters I subscribe to. Here is a link to a video on Alzheimer’s treatments. If you don’t want to watch the video, click the X in the upper right corner, and it will ask if you want to stay on screen. click the yes tab for a transcript of the video and read it. Good info. There is also a book you can buy on the link. I hope this helps.

    • gail says:

      of course research will NEVER be funded because there is no profit to be made from it as it is not a drug and cannot be patented.

      • Searching always for truth says:

        You are absolutely correct, the drug companies, government and the elite don’t want you to know how to get cured, they just want more money. You are healthier staying as far from the medical field and you can get. I go to them to use their knowledge because they are trained but as far as taking the drugs, forget it. I use Dr. Bruce West’s information in conjunction with Dr. Schulze (herbdoc). I was told that I would have to spend over $7,000 to get my teeth fixed over a year ago. I searched out Dr. Schulze and he had some Oral Therapy (mouthwash); my gums tightened, my teeth are not as loose and there is no more inflammation. Always try the alternative before you go on dangerous drugs and useless surgeries because they should be the last resort not the first.

      • Too bad $$ is always the bottom line. It will rest to groups of interested persons to fund and publish research.

  9. andy says:

    I have noticed over the last 3 to 4 years my memory and understanding what i read decreasing . I have always been an avid reader anything i could get my hands on i would read . It seem every thing i do i forget and cannot concentrate enough to complete .It scares me . My mother in law died from Alzheimer’s .I read about coconut oil after 3 days i noticed an improvement in remembering things. I stated off taking 1 tablespoon. i am going to increase the dosage shortly .I am thankful for our doctors and advances in medicine but i feel nature and what nature provides is worth looking into .

  10. Deborah says:

    I am a nursse and i experinced an accident where i broke my neck, I am one of the lucky ones, i can walk but there are issues, i ended up with terrible trauma induced migraines and i noticed some issues with my memory and recall. I did some research my sister and i and we decided to give this a try. I was encouraged by what i had read about the coconut oil. I read that it must be organic and not hydrogenated. I began with 2 tablespoons a day this was 8 days ago and i noticed a difference in my recall and ability to retain and hold information. I am thrilled. I also found migraine releif with the use of an herbal formula from the Migraine treatment institute. This Coconut oil has been a great help, I do not take it in the afternoon as it keeps one up at night but olny take it in the morning.
    The Alzheimers intsitute should study this it is a shame that they would wait for more data when they can be the ones themselves giving this a serious look accompanied by trials and research.

    • shuching says:

      How do you take 2 tbs, just swallow the oil? I am thinking to have my son take it, he is not good in memorize. I sued it in my cooking (Chinese stir-fry)
      Thank you.

      • Dana says:

        We use it as butter on my mom’s pancakes every morning. She loves it! And we’re noticing a change in the fact that she doesn’t get nearly as agitated as she used to.

      • Searching always for truth says:

        I take it by the spoonful, it has a mild coconut flavor. Not bad at all but it is an oil so it will be a personal opinion. Just build it up and start real slow with your son.

  11. Kay Thorpe says:

    I am very interrested , my question is this, does it elevate you colesterol?

  12. Laura says:

    I started giving my mom coconut oil this week. I recently started to take a natural approach to her disease. The meds Drs were giving her were making her sleep and drool. Not the type of life I want for her. With herbs and teas I have controlled most of her outbursts and agitation. The other night for the first time in years we had a conversation. When I gave my Mom a choice of fish filet or hotdog for dinner she stated hotdog. Later that night she lean over and kissed the cat told her she is a pretty pussy cat and said meow meow. The next morning my mother told the contractor working on my house that the dog was very sick and went to the vet yesterday…..which was true. I believe the coconut oil is working and improving her verbal skills and brain functions.

    • Maple says:

      I am so excited to read some positvie stories about using coconut oil for Alzheimers. I am going to try on my mom. Can you tell me where to buy the good quality coconut oil that works on your example? Many thanks.

      • Rita says: has a 54 oz. jar on sale for just under $17. this week. it is organic and virgin. Good Luck. It tastes so good too on my popcorn and even in my morning coffee and butternut squash.

      • Dalton says:

        you can get it @ any whole food markets branches ,if you are in California go to lassens, or try trader joes, lassens health food stores and whole food markets has the extra virgin organic coconut oil

      • Marcia says:

        In central Calif, the Nugget markets have it. I think I saw it at Costco, but not positive.

    • Tricia says:

      Laura, that’s awesome the results you’re getting! I just wanted to suggest that if your mom eats hot dogs, it should be nitrate free hotdogs, as nitrates are also linked to AD. (Same goes for other cured meats and try to avoid MSG as well.) Another thing is blood sugar control–researchers are referring to AD as diabetes type 3 due to its relationship with insulin resistance. So basically go for less carbs, especially processed ones like high fructose corn syrup, sugar, flour, etc. (I’m not a doctor, just interested in health like you are.)

  13. Shirley Nader says:

    All the comments I read seemed to be people with Alzheimers or dementia. What about middle-age people who are very forgetful, will it work in improving their memory? They aren’t at the dementia or alzheimer’s stage yet.

    • Alison says:



      I have found that within one day of starting to use canned organic full-fat coconut milk in my coffee rather than half and half, I was able to think more clearly, and focus better on my work. I am not taking the theraputic dose of 2+ tbs/day but am probably not much below it.

    • darlene winston says:

      I have been taking a tablespoon of coconut oit each mornig. I have nto noticed any benefit. No increased energy, no weight loss, no memory gain, nothing.

      I would love to see a bejnefit and would immediately start giving it to my Father in law who has alzheimers if I thought there was a benefit

  14. david pride says:

    Are the coconut oil chewables just as effective?

  15. Mel Larson says:

    I’ve a 75 yr. old friend who had Alzheimer’s & was prescribed 4 yrs.,ago to start taking MCT Coconut oil and as of August just past he was awarded a clean bill of health. No more Alzheimer’s !!!

    • Judy says:

      Do you know how much coconut oil your friend took each day and if he was on any other type of medication?

    • Paul Burrows says:

      My wife whose grandfather, father, mother and brother all died of/with AD over the past 30 years, was diagnosed with AD in May 2012. She continued to progress rapidly with her lack of cognitive function for about 4 months, while on a regimen of Aricept plus a holistic cocktail of 1/3 cup pineapple juice, 1 tbsp. MCT oil, 1/4 tsp turmeric. She then went into ‘remission’ from her AD and has continued to improve ever since. As her primary caregiver I also now take this daily cocktail, and we are meeting with the Alzheimers Clinic at University of BC next month so they can assess the efficacy of the MCT cocktail. We firmly believe that this is key to her recovery, and encourage others to try it out.

      • Terry Satterthwaite says:

        Yes. It works I have been treating my mother this way. Look into curicumin (tumeric extract) it is more potent and requires less.

  16. happyaunt says:

    I just made a smoothie with 2 Tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil, organic cherries and homemade almond milk. yum. I already eliminated dairy and other animal products and my chol. and triglycerides went down a lot. Now interested in seeing about the many possible benefits from coconut oil.

  17. Andrei says:

    There is no scientific research on coconut oil because scientific research must be funded. Who will fund a natural product like coconut oil or hemp oil or any other natural product which can not be patented so no large PROFIT can be made on it. The system is corrupt : it does not look for solutions, it looks for money, point.

    • R0m2894 says:

      Also the American Alzheimer Assoc. get the vast amount of their funding from Pharmaceutical companies, so do not expect an objective view toward natural remedies have worked for thousands and thousands of people. This guy even says he has no knowledge of anyone who has tried it. He is therefore just repeating the company line. He should not write articles about which he has no information.

  18. Sherri Peck says:

    My mother lives with me is 77 and has stage 5 (out of 7) dementia. She almost never began a conversation, could hardly read her Bible aloud without slurring and stumbling over most of the words at our weekly bible study, and would never respond with more than a one-word answer if I started a conversation with her. After starting her on organic, extra virgin coconut oil tablets (4 a day which gives her 4000 mg coconut oil), about a month ago, she will start conversations, her reading aloud has improved dramatically, she is not slurring in her speech, and her general brain function and memory seems to have improved. She has been on Excelon for over a decade and we just saw her gradually decline. We will continue with the coconut oil indefinitely!

    I am 49 and am a CPA, so I started taking the same dose about 2 weeks ago and have already felt like my memory is sharper.

    • R0m2894 says:

      For Even better results try giving her 3-4 tablespoons per day…since 4 grams per day is very low dosage to see maximum benefits.

  19. Jeff says:

    My parents-in-law, who live/d in Sri Lanka, and have always cooked with coconut oil, both have/had Dementia/AD. My mother-in-law passed in March from the disease after 5 years of very rapidly advancing AD. Now, my father-in-law has advanced AD. Both were vegetarians and always used coconut oil but neither saw the benefits of living with coconut oil in their daily diet. We also cook with it but I don’t seem to have improved my short-term memory at all.

  20. Eric says:

    Make sure that when you say “I have used coconut oil and have not seen any improvements” that you are using 100% organic wet-milled (from fresh coconuts) coconut oil. Processed coconut oil is bad for you. Unrefined coconut oil is where the magic happens. Also, cooking with the oil at high heat can turn the good fats into bad fats and not provide any benefit. Coconut oil has a higher smoke point than other oils, but it still can turn into harmful trans fats at high heat. I would like to know if the people claiming that “coconut oil did nothing for me” used some processed coconut oil found at the grocery store because it was cheap.

    Also, keep in mind that “some improvement” with little side effects is usually a better result than what human engineered medicine can produce.

  21. Denise Cummins, PhD says:

    This study, published in the medical journal Neurobiology of Aging in 2004, found that coconut oil negatively impacted cognitive performance in people who have the APOE4 genetic variant (the “Alzheimer gene”). For those who don’t have this variant, coconut oil improved performance:

  22. Jim says:

    I’m 64 and have been taking a quarter teaspoon of Louana Pure Coconut Oil, daily, for over two years (in my coffee). My mother died of Azheimer in 2006. So far, I have no symptoms of dementia. However, I have had high Cholesterol since 1993, and have been on meds since that timeframe. Even with medication my total cholesterol was always about 190-200 measured every 6 months. 4 months after starting the coconut oil, my total cholesterol went to 129. In two years it has never risen above 139. That’s about a 25-30% reduction and is significant. There are no other factors that can explain this change. Hope it defers dementia, but for now I will continue to take the “side effect” of lower total cholesterol.

  23. R.SMITH says:


  24. Nancy says:

    Have been taking 2 Tsp of olive oil a day. Does anyone know if OK to also take 2 Tsp coconut oil.
    Seems like a lot of saturated fat.