As bizarre as it might sound, a 2013 study suggesting that if you can’t smell peanut butter it could be due to early stage Alzheimer’s disease is gaining new momentum.
Researchers at The University of Florida asked over 90 participants to smell a spoonful of peanut butter at a short distance from their nose. Some participants had a confirmed early stage Alzheimer’s diagnosis, some had other forms of dementia, while others had no cognitive or neurological problems.
Steps for Alzheimer’s Peanut Butter Test
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.
Even after having years to study and replicate the results of the study, neurologists, like Dr. David Knopman from the Mayo Clinic, are skeptical that a simple process can diagnose such a complicated disease.
At this point, the test can only be used to confirm an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and is not a way to diagnose the disease, a very important distinction.
If you do notice a loss of smell, it is worth talking to your doctor about.