The potential for the ketogenic diet as an adjuvant treatment for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases raises promise for Philippines to contribute to clinically-tried disease treatment through the home-produced virgin coconut oil (VCO).
Clinical trials on the use of VCO in ketogenic diet as supportive treatment for cancer has been shown to be highly promising under a clinical trial at the Paracelsus Medical University (PMU) in Salzburg, Austria.
VCO is a recognized source of beneficial fatty acid metabolized in the liver as ketones in ketogenic diets.
The target in the PMU clinical trial is for ketogenic diet to achieve the “Warburg effect” where cancer cells are prevented from using glycolysis in order to produce the organic chemical ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) needed in the multiplication of cancer cells.
“Based on the results of rigorous preclinical and clinical studies performed thus far, the ketogenic diet would appear to be a promising and powerful option for adjuvant therapy for a range of cancers,” according to a PMU’s “Ketogenic diet in cancer therapy.”
A known researcher on VCO treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Mary Newport, has cited the use of coconut oil for therapeutic ketogenic diet.
“ It’s now being (used) for cancer because cancer cells like sugar. Some cancer cells use 200 times more sugar than the normal cell. They ferment sugar, the mitochondria ferments sugar.
They don’t metabolize it normally. But most cancer cells don’t use ketones effectively as fuel,” said Newport.
“Ketogenic diet attempts to starve the tumor, the cancer cells. But basically your healthy cells and your brain can use ketones. So it can help in cancer.”
Newport was a resource person during the Philippines’ first World Coconut Congress last year and presented “Combining Coconut Oil and Low Carbohydrate, Higher Fat Diet for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other Diseases.”
The PMU clinical trial reported anti-tumor effect of ketogenic diet in 10 types of cancer. These are glioblastoma, Astrocytoma, Medulloblastoma, Prostate cancer, Colon cancer, Neuroblastoma, Pancreatic cancer, Lung cancer, Breast cancer, Stomach cancer, and Liver cancer.
Clinical researches raising possibility of ketogenic diet as supportive cancer treatment will continue as testimonials on this are being documented.
“There are a lot of testimonials of people who have had (this diet) reported shrinking cancer, and maybe eliminate cancers. There will be studies going on. Ketogenic diet will be used together with other treatment to see if it will work synergistically to get the result.”
“Phases of healthy cells in your brain can use ketones. It’s kind of a new trick again to help deal with cancer.”
Even before this development on cancer, ketogenic diet has already been accepted as treatment for other diseases, particularly epilepsy.
And coconut oil plays an important role. Newport stresses her own success in using coconut oil to treat Alzheimer’s.
A neonatologist, Newport has been known in her fight against Alzheimer’s after achieving milestones in helping her husband battle the disease at its early onset.
She took after the early studies of Dr. Samuel Henderson who recommended medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil—derived from coconut oil which has 65% MCT– as treatment for Alzheimer’s.
“Dr. Samuel Henderson whose mother died from Alzheimer’s disease had this brilliant idea of using MCT oil, perhaps providing mild ketosis from consuming MCT oil that could help people with the disease,” she said at the WCC.
Steve Newport had achieved significant improvement from early onset Alzheimer’s after taking coconut oil. After a few dose, he passed the cognitive test ADAS cog for candidate patients of a clinical trial for potential Alzheimer’s drugs—after previously failing such cognitive tests.
Just 4-5 days from first intake of coconut oil, Steve advanced to having a lifted mood, was more alert than before, and began conversing normally.
After two weeks, he was able to draw a clock better with a clock’s numbers and letters in a test given for clinical trial candidates.
“His physical symptoms started to disappear, his tremor eliminated. He had stiff (limbs like in) Parkinson’s and he couldn’t run– we saw these disappear in two months. He was able to sleep normally.”
After 3-4 months, he could read again.
“Before words were shaky and he couldn’t focus on the words. That stopped in 3 – 4 months,” related Newport.
A more significant progress was when he was able to remember what he read a few hours ago.
“After 9 months, he could remember what he read several hours earlier. Before we started coconut oil, he couldn’t finish a sentence reading.”
Having been admitted to a clinical trial, he improved even more by scoring 14 points out of a 78-point cognitive test while other patients on placebo lost a score of 6 points.
Although Steve eventually died in 2016 after having seizures, his mental progress since 2008 has caused a recognition of coconut oil as potential treatment for early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Diabetes of the brain
Experts who have conducted autopsy of brains of people who died with Alzheimer’s disease found insulin deficiency in the brain, causing conclusions that Alzheimer’s is diabetes of the brain.
In the same way, even young people in their 20s known to be at risk for Alzheimer’s because of their family background showed decreased glucose uptake in the brain compared to those not at risk.
“There seems to be a conspiracy of small uptake of glucose in the brain due to insulin deficiency and insulin resistance and also a question of efficiency of the functioning of enzymes called PTH complex and of glucose transporters that transport glucose into brain cells.”
Apparently, ketones can bypass this problem of transmitting glucose into the brain.
Ketones in infants
Ketones are essential substances that are even critical to the newborn.
“Ketones are very important to the newborn. Newborns have a very large brain, very active, and requires a lot of calories. Ketones supply some substantial portion of the calories, the energy needed by the newborn brain,” said Newport.
“A baby that’s strictly breast-fed and does not get any formula goes into ketosis within hours of birth and will stay in ketosis.”
Infants use ketones as fuel for the brain, and their brain is ready to take ketones 12 weeks into the pregnancy.
“The pregnant mother is in ketosis. A breastfeeding mother is in ketosis. During fasting, the ketone levels of the newborn and the pregnant or breastfeeding mother will rise much more rapidly than someone else who is not in that condition,” said Newport.
Ketones form part of the brain’s lipids.
“Ketones become building blocks for new lipids in the brain of the newborn including cholesterol which is very important in the brain. Our brain is 70 % fat including a lot of cholesterol.”
The fact that ketones are very small molecules enable them to be taken up easily by the brain as fuel.
Ketones and glucose are both fuel to prop up the TCA cycle (the second stage of cellular respiration) in metabolism as ketones produce an energy molecule called ATP.
“But ketones are more efficient because it bypasses 6 chemical reactions needed by glucose to get into the TCA cycle. Unlike glucose that can’t enter into the cell because of lack of insulin, ketones are more effective because it doesn’t need insulin to get into the cell.”
The body uses up within18-36 hours of starvation its glucose stored in the liver and muscle.
“We use it up very fast. We start breaking down fat into fatty acid for use as fuel for most organs or our body including the heart.”
“Ketones are smaller molecules that cross the brain barrier more quickly. Our brain has metabolic flexibility, and cells can switch in seconds to use of glucose or ketones.”
It was found out in the laboratory of Dr. George F. Cahill Jr (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) that brains of human can survive in a time of long period of fasting because of high ketone levels.
There was one lady under Cahill’s trial who wanted to lose weight. She agreed under the laboratory procedure to fast for 40 days with only water, salt tablets, and vitamins. The study found out her brain survived as her ketone levels, one involving beta hydroxybutyrate, rose dramatically as ketones served as fuel for the brain.
“If you’re not starving and you’re eating a typical diet, your ketone level is almost zero. But ketones provided two-thirds of fuel for her brain during starvation.”
That finding was true too on other people.
Ketone brain uptake
Another researcher, Dr, Stephen C. Cunnane (Mc Gill University), has done glucose and ketones PET scans at young, normal healthy people, older cognitively normal healthy people, people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Dr Cunnane was able to show in Alzheimer’s that there are areas in the brain with poor glucose uptake. But those areas of the brain take up ketones more easily.”
Surpisingly, the normal brain needs more fuel than is usually available.
People with normal cognition were found to have 7% gap between the energy the brain needs and the energy it gets. This gap is worse in those with mild MCI and even worst in those with Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Taking MCT oil at 45 ML per day would fill in that gap for the energy the brain needs for somebody with mild cognitive impairment. That gives hope we may possibly prevent Alzheimer’s occurrence and help those with MCI and those with glucose uptake problems in the brain – Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.”
Survival from ketones
The human race’s brain apparently survived because of ketones. Nowadays, people don’t worry about hunger and famine.
But a long time ago, when human had to hunt and explore for food, hunger was real. Yet, ketones are able to sustain the energy the brain needs in times of famine.
“If a typical diet is rich in carbohydrates, glucose is the predominant fuel for the brain. But humans (in history) had periods of feast and famine. Our ancient ancestors did worry about famine, there’s no grocery store before. They would try to find food, but there’s no food. Thanks for ketones that we can use as fuel for the brain during fasting and starvation,” said Newport.
Another study involved astrocytes, cells in the brain that nourish nearby neurons.
“With some of the different cultures, they gave either oleic acid, or caprilic acid or C8 or lauric acid which is C12 (found in coconut oil). What they found was lauric acid directly (simulated) ketone production in these astrocytes,” said Newport.
“Because the lauric acid levels remained high after a long period of time, there may be more opportunities for the brain to use it, assuming it crosses the blood brain barrier. So a couple of things needs to be improved. Lauric acid crosses the blood brain barrier – if some scientists figure that out, that will be great.”
As there are also new developments leading to assumptions certain microorganisms may cause Alzheimer’s disease, experts are studying the use of coconut oil for such treatment as VCO is recognized to have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial ability.
One of such microorganism that may be causing Alzheimer’s is the herpes simplex virus. Microorganisms as a cause of Alzheimer’s too is the subject of some researches.
It started as treatment a long time ago for epilepsy.
Now ketogenic diet with the use of coconut oil is being seen as potential cure too for Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS, brain injury, oxygen toxicity, and glioblastoma which is a very aggressive brain tumor.
“Mild nutritional ketosis is really the low end of ketone levels –and that’s the kind of where we are if we consume coconut oil or MCT oil. The classic ketogenic diet has 10 times higher than that.”
This high ketogenic level has been used for almost 100 years to treat children with epilepsy successfully – eliminating or reducing seizures.
This has very high fat diet– 85-90 percent fat of the calories. All the calories is fat, Newport stressed.
“They calculate it to help a child grow, to maintain a lean body mass, less of carbs, very very small amount, 10-12 grams per day of carbohydrates. If you eat somewhere between 50-60% of your calories from fat, that is a point that will support ketosis. The more fat you eat, the higher the level of ketones you get over time, if you’re consistent.”
This is for serious health conditions.
“If you’re very serious about it, if you have a serious condition, it requires a lot of very strict calculation of your diet. Everything has to be weighed. It’s a very serious endeavor for people dealing with epilepsy and cancer.”
MCT from coconut oil offers as an important source of ketones that are not likely to be found in the usual Western diet from peanut oil, soybean oil, or corn oil, fish oil.
Surprisingly, the human breast milk contains MCT. Fats (cheeses and milk) of animals—goats, cows, and sheep—also contain MCT. Another MCT source is palm kernel oil. (Growth Publishing for UCAP)
1. Dr. Mary Newport
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