Can't Smell this? You May Have Alzheimer's

Peanut Butter Test to Detect Alzheimer's
  • A dollop of peanut butter and a ruler might be a way to confirm a diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
  • "The peanut butter test," is fantastically low-cost and non-invasive way to test for Alzheimer's. 
  • "The ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve and is often one of the first things to be affected in cognitive decline," reads this release from the University of Florida, researchers from which conducted the experiment.
  • But with Alzheimer's patients, the sense of smell is affected in a very particular way: The left nostril is significantly more impaired than the right.
So what exactly does a peanut butter smell test consist of?
  1. Each person begins with closed eyes and mouth and they even close up one of their nostrils.
  2. A researcher opens a jar of peanut butter and stands a good distance from each person, coming closer to the person until he or she can smell the peanut butter.
  3. The researcher measures this distance.
  4. The process is repeated using the other nostril after a 90-second break.
  5. During testing, the research group is not aware of which people in the study had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s..
  • What researchers found is peculiar. The sense of smell in the left nostril specifically was severely impaired in the tested group who already had early-stage Alzheimer’s.
  • In order for people to smell the peanut butter through their left nostril, the container had to be an average of 10 centimeters closer to the nose than for the right nostril.
  • Peanut butter was used because it's a so-called "pure odorant." Generally our sense of smell actually incorporates two distinct sensations: the olfactory sense, or smell, as well as a trigeminal sense, which is like a more physical burning or stinging sort of sense. Peanut butter has no trigeminal element; it's only olfactory, which makes it ideal for testing, as the link to Alzheimer's is specifically dealing with the olfactory sense.
  • This could be a great, inexpensive, early warning system for those with Alzheimer's; the illness is not easy to detect, requiring neurological examination as well as mental, and has to be carried out by a professional.