This holiday favorite helps detect early signs of dementia

Almost everyone misplaces their keys, their wallet, or their phone from time to time. But experiencing that kind of age-related lapse in memory doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on the road to developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, new research shows that one of the earliest signs of dementia doesn’t have anything to do with what we would normally think of as a memory problem. Instead, it relates to something quite unusual…

Your sense of smell.

Researchers pinpoint little-known signal of early dementia

Confusion, sleeplessness, and mood swings are all well-known signs of early dementia. But it turns out, an impaired sense of smell is another strong indicator.

Your olfactory system—which determines your sense of smell—has stem cells that self-regenerate. So, if you can’t identify scents, it may mean that your brain is having trouble rebuilding key pathways that decline with age…which can be an early warning sign of dementia.

Researchers with the University of Chicago recently put this concept to the test in an innovative, new study involving almost 3,000 men and women, ages 57 to 85. At the study’s outset, all the participants lived independently at home, had not be diagnosed with dementia, and appeared to have “normal” cognition.

Then, the researchers asked the participants to identify five different scents:

  • Peppermint
  • Fish
  • Leather
  • Orange
  • Rose

It turns out:

  • 78 percent recognized four out of five scents
  • 14 percent detected three scents
  • 5 percent identified two scents
  • 2 percent recognized only one scent
  • 1 percent were unable to recognize any of the scents

Then, researchers checked back in with the participants five years later…

Lack of smell a strong predictor of dementia

It turns out, the fewer scents the participants correctly detected at the study’s outset, the higher their chance of being diagnosed with dementia during the follow-up period. Specifically, participants who couldn’t identify at least 4 out of the 5 scents were more than twice as likely to develop dementia during the five-year follow-up.

In fact, a whopping 80 percent of people who could only recognize one or two of the scents at the study’s outset developed dementia over the next five years. And nearly 100 percent of the subjects who couldn’t recognize any scents developed dementia during the follow-up period.

Of course, mainstream medicine has been trying for decades to come up with a reliable way to determine your dementia risk before the disease actually develops. But usually, they just end up putting you through a litany of expensive, invasive, stressful, and ultimately useless blood tests, scans, and specialist visits.

So, I’m thrilled to see researchers come up with such simple, accurate, non-invasive test to detect dementia risk. And it’s one that can be performed right in the doctor’s office—or even at home!

And remember—you don’t have to wait for an early warning sign like loss of smell to start improving your brain health. There are dozens of cutting-edge natural approaches for Alzheimer’s and complete brain recovery. You can learn all about them in my Complete Alzheimer’s Prevention and Repair Protocol. (To learn more about this innovative online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!)

Now, before I go, since tomorrow is Christmas Eve, let me share a few timely thoughts about one of the specific scents used in the dementia test…

Peppermint brings tidings of comfort

As I mentioned above, researchers used peppermint as one of the signature scents to help identify people at risk for developing dementia. Indeed, it’s certainly a distinctive, memorable, and comforting scent that many people associate with the holidays.

But did you know peppermint has many health benefits that you can enjoy year-round?

In fact, the peppermint plant (Mentha pipenta) has long been used as an herbal remedy for digestive problems. It calms stomach muscles and improves the flow of bile, which the body uses to digest fats. As a result, food passes through the stomach more quickly with less bloating and gas.

Several studies show that coated peppermint capsules can also help reduce indigestion, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. (Coated capsules keep peppermint oil from releasing too early in the gastrointestinal tract, which, if released too early, can produce the opposite intended result—causing heartburn and indigestion.)

Of course, you can also simply opt for some plain peppermint tea after your meal. (Just forgo all the other trendy peppermint drinks found everywhere at this time of year—like peppermint mocha lattes, frappuccinos, and “peppermintini” cocktails.)

Peppermint tea can also provide relief for colds, coughs, bronchitis, allergies, digestion, and asthma. It can even give you a natural energy boost and help reduce hunger cravings.

Of course, you can also apply peppermint oil topically as a natural pain reliever for everything from headaches to overworked muscles.

So, this winter, if you don’t have some peppermint tea next to your stove or some peppermint oil in your medicine cabinet, I suggest you “remedy” that right away. It’s also a great idea to keep a peppermint plant in your kitchen, which is something I try to do.

In fact, I loved visiting my friend Mark Noble out on his large ranch on the Snake River near Twin Falls and Pocatello, Idaho where he grew acres and acres of peppermint plants. I remember gazing out onto his property and thinking what a pity it is that big food manufacturers extract the precious oil from these amazing herbs and then just add a few drops of it to their processed, sugary products.

Come to think of it, a peppermint plant makes for a thoughtful, festive Christmas gift—one that offers tidings of comfort and good health. It’s easy to grow and maintain indoors all year long. So, if you haven’t quite finished your shopping, why not give the gift of peppermint!


“Olfactory Dysfunction Predicts Subsequent Dementia in Older U.S. Adults.” J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018 Jan;66(1):140-144.