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Can Smelling Peanut Butter Tell you if you have Alzheimer’s?

By on September 15, 2014

It is estimated that about 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease (AD); 200,000 of these individuals are younger than 65. It is said that by 2025, the number of those older than 65 with AD, will triple. With such high numbers, there is a pandemonium building up in the American public, who will be next to be diagnosed with this atrocious disease?

peanut-butter-post

Jennifer Stamps and other researchers at the University of Florida McKnight Brain Institute have designed a study in which they have results that link smell to the diagnosis of AD. Their results were published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences. The idea to use peanut butter as a stimulus came to Stamps when she observed that during testing the sense of smell was omitted. The ability to smell is often one of the first things that begin to decline when afflicted by AD. Stamps decided to set up an inexpensive case study to test whether a decrease in smell can indicate early onset AD.

Parts of the olfactory cortex are the initial sites of AD pathology and patients that suffer from this disease usually have more degeneration of their left rather than their right hemisphere. This means that these patients usually experience a greater depletion in their olfactory senses on the left side compared to the right. The case controlled study was done to assess if the diagnosis of AD can be related to a decrease in these olfactory senses.

The researchers performing the case took an array of people with dementia such as Mild Cognitive Impairment, Lewy body disease, and Alzheimer’s. The results were astonishing. For those with AD the odor detection length for the left side was about 12.4 cm less than that of the right. These results demonstrate the hypothesis that those with AD have a higher deterioration of their left olfactory senses compared to the right ones.  This case study was able to locate those afflicted with AD by simply having them smell peanut butterIs it possible that smelling peanut butter can help one detect if they are at risk for this destructive disease?

The methods used to perform this experiment are very simple and easy to be repeated. About 14g of peanut butter is taken which is around one tablespoon and used as a stimulus for the olfactory senses, or your sense of smell. A ruler is then used to determine the length at which the nostril is able to smell the peanut butter from. This test is very simple; you need to close your eyes, keep one nostril closed, and measure from what distance you can smell the peanut butter from. If you have to get closer with the peanut butter for the left side of your nose, chances are you might want to go in for some more early stage Alzheimer’s testing, because it may be that you are experiencing a decrease in your ability to smell from your left side.

With such an easy, quick, and inexpensive technique, Alzheimer’s can be tested for in clinics that don’t have a lot of access to new age technology.

To learn more about Alzheimer ’s disease and some more statistics and other possible resources, visit alz.org.

To see how to perform this experiment watch the video below:

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