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Peanut Butter Helps To Diagnose Early Stages Of Dementia

December 14, 2015

Neurological researchers are using food to help diagnose early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. A single tablespoon of peanut butter was able to help identify if a patient had dementia by using smell to detect odor at different distances. The ability to smell is linked to the first cranial nerve and its obstruction is one of the first signs of cognitive decline. Peanut butter is a good choice because it is inexpensive and easy to access. It is also a pure odorant meaning it is solely detected by the olfactory nerve, sensory receptors in the sinuses responsible for picking up odor.


Patients were asked to close their eyes and block one nostril as the clinician moved the peanut butter from some distance until the patient was first able to detect the odor. The distance was recorded and the other nostril was blocked and the experiment was repeated after 90 seconds. In Alzheimer’s patients, the left nostril showed impairment and did not pick up on the scent until it was an average of 10cm closer than the right nostril. This test can confirm diagnosis, but it might also be used to predict which patients may get the disease in the future. This test is inexpensive and may be a better tool for hospitals or clinics that have limited or no access to personnel or equipment to run elaborate tests. Catching the disease early allows for more aggressive treatment which will possibly prevent progression of Alzheimer’s.



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