Nfld. & Labrador

West coast man swears by Alzheimer's remedy

A Newfoundland man believes coconut oil is greatly helping his wife's Alzheimer's.

Wilf Roberts claims coconut oil is improving his wife's condition

Elizabeth Roberts has both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases and is cared for at home by her husband Wilf. (CBC)

It's a classic case of scientific proof versus personal experience.

A man on the west coast of Newfoundland claims a new treatment is helping his family cope with the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease, a condition for which medical science offers very little help.

Wilf Roberts of Woody Point, near Gros Morne National Park, believes coconut oil is greatly helping his wife's Alzheimer's.

Wilf Roberts swears he's seen an improvement in his wife after beginning treatment with coconut oil. (CBC)

But there isn't any scientific proof that it actually does.

Roberts and his wife Elizabeth have been married for 50 years, a run they've enjoyed in good health until four years ago, when she was diagnosed with both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

"Our whole life changed," said Roberts.

Elizabeth, who had been an active, happy woman, holding down a job as an executive secretary, suddenly descended into the cloudy, vacant, sad world of forgetfulness that is Alzheimer's.

"I was told that ‘Alzheimer’s, there’s no cure for it. You go in a home for the rest of your life, and that's it.’ A death sentence," said Roberts.

"Fortunately, I think there's something out there that can change that."

Coconut oil

Roberts turned to coconut and MCT oil, a treatment popularized by Dr. Mary Newport, an American M.D. who used it on her own husband and wrote about it in her book, Alzheimer's Disease: What If There Was a Cure?

"[Her husband] was a vegetable," said Roberts. "She put him on coconut oil and MCT oil. He now drives his own car. He's working. He's cognizant."

MCTs are fatty acids found in coconut, palm kernel and camphor tree oils.

Elizabeth gets her dosage of oils spread on toast, under jam.

Roberts swears it works.

Roberts was inspired by an American doctor who advocates the treatment. (CBC)

"She's better 75% of the time," said Roberts, "and she's 75% better."

He admits it's not a cure, just an improvement— and that the 75% change for the better is the best she ever gets.

Still, there are a lot of tough days.

She frequently draws a blank when asked questions about her life, such as where she was born and where she lived as a child.

Clearly, the disease is still in charge.

But Roberts maintains his wife is a lot better than she was. While there's no medical proof, he credits coconut oil, along with exercise, physiotherapy and lots of human contact.

Alzheimer's Society reacts

The executive director of the provincial Alzheimer's Society encourages people to be open-minded about coconut oil.

"If people are finding things of a natural method that are benefitting them," said Shirley Lucas, "then they make that individual choice as to whether or not they think it is worthwhile pursuing."

"It's an individual choice, just like it's an individual choice to take medications that may be beneficial," she said.

Roberts maintains that Alzheimer's disease changed his and Elizabeth's lives, and that he believes it's changed countless others.

Therefore, he wants to spread the word about something he says helps.