January 14, 2014

Alzheimer’sPeanut butter might be more than just a yummy treat! New research shows that a dollop of peanut butter and a ruler might actually be a way to confirm a diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The area of the brain that governs smell is often one of the first things affected in cognitive decline. Using peanut butter to test for smell sensitivity, a small pilot study had patients close their eyes and mouth while one nostril was blocked. The clinician opened the peanut butter container and held the ruler next to the open nostril while the patient breathed normally. The clinician then moved the peanut butter up the ruler one centimeter at a time during the patient’s exhale until the person could detect an odor.

Remarkably, patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease showed a dramatic difference in their ability to detect odor between the left and right nostril—the left nostril was impaired and did not detect the smell until it was an average of 10 centimeters closer to the nose than the right nostril had made the detection in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn more about how peanut butter may be the next step in early Alzheimer’s detection in this article about the University of Florida study.