Posted August 26, 2014
Early detection of Alzheimer’s could be as easy as smelling peanut butter. Every 67 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and over 5 million Americans now are living with it, reports the Alzheimer’s Association. Researchers continually explore ways to diagnose the disease to hopefully find a cure.
Peanut butter sensitivity tests
Graduate student researchers at the University of Florida evaluated cranial nerve function by testing smell sensitivity. Using peanut butter, which has a recognizable smell, researchers measured the distance at which participants could detect scent.
Participants closed their eyes and mouth as each nostril’s response to smell was tested. Placing a dollop of peanut butter at the end of a ruler, researchers measured distances at which the odor was detected.
At the time of the study, researchers didn’t know if participants had Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia. But when examining the smell sensitivity reaction, they noticed definite trends in responses.
Years ago, scientists discovered that for individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the left side of the brain shows diminished activity. The results of the peanut butter study demonstrates that individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s can’t smell as well from the left nostril as compared to the right. Researchers also confirmed that the left side of the brain processes what is smelled in the left nostril (and the right side of the brain processes smells sensed by the right nostril).
Researchers acknowledge that this was a preliminary study, with more extensive work needed to further document the results to determine whether the peanut butter test is an accurate diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s.