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detect alzheimer's earlyPeanut butter may serve a greater purpose than simply being fun to eat – the inability to smell it could help detect early-stage Alzheimer’s. Researchers at the University of Florida conducted a peanut butter smell test on study participants to determine if there is a relationship between loss of smell and early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. What they discovered is that this test can indeed confirm an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Here is how it worked:

  • Each study participant closed their eyes, mouth and one nostril a pre-set distance before approaching an open jar of peanut butter.
  • Once the study participant began to smell the peanut butter while walking towards the jar, the researchers took note of the distance. This same process was repeated for the other nostril.

The researchers discovered that those who had an impaired sense of smell in the left nostril had early-stage Alzheimer’s. They noted that the participants needed to be an average of 10 centimeters closer to the peanut butter container in order to smell it from their left nostril compared to their right nostril. Dylan Wint, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, commented “There is a lot of research showing Alzheimer-related brain shrinkage starting on the left side of the brain, which is where the temporal lobe degenerates first.”

A follow-up study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, however, failed to replicate these findings. They were unable to find any differences between the left and right nostrils abilities to detect the smell of peanut butter. This highlights the need for future, repeated studies and ongoing research into what could be an additional method of testing that is less expensive and more accessible for patients with cognitive impairment. Today, some of the most reliable tests to detect early Alzheimer’s are a spinal tap or an amyloid PET scan of the brain. These tests, however, can be too expensive for many and are not available everywhere.

Interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s research? The Premiere Research Institute in West Palm Beach regularly conducts clinical research studies in the field of Alzheimer’s Disease. To find out more about these studies call 561-296-3824, click here or sign up for our newsletter to keep informed about the newest treatments, articles, and research that are being conducted in the field of Alzheimer’s.


Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. How a Peanut Butter Test May Detect Alzheimer’s. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/10/peanut-butter-test-may-detect-alzheimers