Can Peanut Butter be used to test for Alzheimer’s disease?

A new study says that a simple test involving a tablespoon of peanut butter and a ruler may help to detect Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers led by Jennifer Stamps, a University of Florida graduate student, found that patients with early stage Alzheimer’s had a more difficult time detecting the peanut butter that was held under their nose with their left nostril than their right. Stamps explained that she first thought of this low-tech method when she noticed patients weren’t having their sense of smell tested. When cognitive decline occurs, the cranial nerve, which is associated with smell, is often one of the first areas impacted. According to Stamps, peanut butter in particular is a “pure odorant”, meaning that its scent is only detected by this nerve.
For this study, 24 patients who had mild cognitive impairment closed their eyes and mouth, and blocked one nostril. The researchers then moved a small container of peanut butter up a rule, centimeter by centimeter, closer to their nose. When using their left nostril, the patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease could not detect the peanut butter until it was only a couple centimeters from their face. However, when they used their right nostril, they were able to smell it when it was an average of 17.4 centimeters away. According to the study, this kind of discrepancy was clear in 10 patients with Alzheimer’s and the 14 who had different kinds of dementia did not show a difference in smell sensitivity.
“At the moment, we can use this test to confirm diagnosis,” Stamps said in a release. “But we plan to study patients with mild cognitive impairment to see if this test might be used to predict which patients are going to get Alzheimer’s disease.”
This study was published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.



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