Lecithin and Alzheimer's Disease (Research)

Peer-Reviewed Professional Journals

·    Dysken, M.  A review of recent clinical trials in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.  Psychiatric Annals.  17(3):178, 1987.

·    Little, A., et al.  A double-blind, placebo controlled trial of high-dose lecithin in Alzheimer’s Disease.  Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.  48(8):736-742, 1985.

The first long-term double-blind placebo controlled trial of high dose lecithin in senile dementia of the Alzheimer type is reported.  Fifty one subjects were given 20-25 g/day of purified soya lecithin (containing 90% phosphatidyl plus lysophosphatidyl choline) for six months and followed up for at least a further six months.  Plasma choline levels were monitored throughout the treatment period.  There were no differences between the placebo group and the lecithin group but there was an improvement in a subgroup of relatively poor compliers.  These were older and had intermediate levels of plasma choline.  It is suggested that the effects of lecithin are complex but that there may be a "therapeutic window" for the effects of lecithin in the condition and that this may be more evident in older patients.

·    Weintraub, S., et al.  Lecithin in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.  Archives of Neurology.  40(8):527-528, 1983.

[no abstract available].

·    Volz, H. P., et al.  [Improvement in quality of life in the elderly.  Results of a placebo-controlled study on the efficacy and tolerability of lecithin fluid in patients with impaired cognitive functions.]  MMW Fortschr Med.  146:99-106, 2004.

Lecithin, a precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, has a positive effect on brain and memory functions.  In a prospective, randomized, double-blind study, the effect of buerlecithin fluid (BLF) was investigated in comparison with placebo in patients with mild cognitive disorders.  A total of 96 ambulatory patients (> 55 years) were admitted to the study.  Treatment duration was 84 days.  In both treatment groups, a clear improvement in all the cognitive parameters tested was seen.  The main target measure, the overall Sandoz Clinical Assessment Geriatric (SCAG) score (a measure of dementia) improved by 18.7 (test substance) and 16.4 (placebo) points (p = 0.1620).  A statistically relevant improvement of the secondary target parameter, response in the SCAG score, was achieved with BLF (85.4%) in comparison with placebo (62.5%) (p = 0.018).  Furthermore, BLF demonstrated significant superiority in a number of the other target measures.  The study also confirmed the very good tolerability of BLF.

NOTE:  Buerlecithin is a liquid soy lecithin product name.

Laypersons’ Publications

·    Hogarth, K.  Lecithin:  new food for thought.  Inside Good Health.  4:22, 1995.

·    Mervyn, L.  Thorsons Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals (2nd Edition).  Thorsons Publishing Group, Wellingborough, England.  1989:25.

Some cases of Alzheimer’s disease respond to 25 grams of lecithin per day.  This dosage should be increased by a further 25 grams each week until side-effects manifest.

·    Vayda, William.  Psycho-nutrition:  How to Control your Mood with Foods.  Lothian Publishing Company, Port Melbourne, Australia.  1992:99.

Giving patients large amounts of supplemental lecithin helps to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.