Researchers Use Peanut Butter to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease


October 13, 2013 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Senior Health Issues



Peanut butter may help doctors identify early cases of Alzheimer’s Disease.   Researchers at the University of Florida have been working on a method of early stage Alzheimer’s detection using food that may be in your refrigerator as you read this article.

Graduate student Jennifer Stamps while performing her studies at the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste, while working with Professor Dr. Kenneth Mailman, realized that Alzheimer’s patients were not tested for their smell and test abilities.

As it turns-out, one of the first parts of the brain to be effected by cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s is the olfactory area in the front part of the temporal lobe that developed for our system of smell.  This part of our brain is also associated with creating new memories.  The first cranial nerve which transmits the sense of smell from the nasal cavity is an integral part of that system and is also effected in patients with this debilitating problem.

Graduate student Jennifer was challenged by Dr. Heilman to come up with a simple and quick method that would help identify early Alzheimer’s onset in patients. Knowing the link to the olfactory sensory functions, Ms. Stamps set out to find a suitable substance.  Peanut butter turns out to be what is considered a “pure odorant” that is critically differentiated and identified by the olfactory nerve.

The system of odor detection the researchers came up with involved holding a ruler next to a tablespoon of peanut butter as they moved the spoon up the length of the ruler until the subject was able to identify the odor one nostril at a time.  The issue the researchers were able to identify in already diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients had to do with a distinct difference in each nostril’s ability to identify the peanut butter odor.  Specifically, the left nostril needed to be 10 centimeters closer than the right prior to being able to identify the peanut butter smell in these patients.

Currently, this test has only been used to confirm otherwise known cases of Alzheimer’s, but the researchers plan on further development using this method to screen for preliminary cases.

This otherwise simple test may become a standard test for doctor’s offices and clinics that don’t have the dedicated staff or expensive and sophisticated equipment needed to screen patients for an early identifier of potential Alzheimer’s.  Doctors can then proceed with more complex follow-up testing at referred facility if necessary.

This may be a test so simple that those individuals suspecting memory impairment issues may be able to perform at home with the assistance of a loved one or friend.

You can read additional details of this study in the Journal of the Neurological Science.

Disclaimer: The suggestions above are only to be considered as general health concepts and are not to be considered as medical advice or a replacement for the advice of a personal physician. Before starting any program where a change in diet and exercise is undertaken, always consult with a physician first. Every individual and condition is different and specific medical conditions may prevent some individuals from embracing some of the practices detailed above. Senior Home Locators and its owners are not responsible for the accuracy of the content or the results of any use of the information contained in this posting.