Parkinson's disease is a chronic, degenerative disorder of the nervous system, in which voluntary movement is impaired or lost. Although the disease may come to affect your entire body, it most noticeably weakens your ability to control motions categorized as semi-voluntary: keeping your jaw in place so that the mouth stays closed; swinging your arms as you walk; moving your tongue so that your speech is clear and precise. Parkinson's disease rarely affects people under sixty years of age, and men are about 30 percent more likely to develop it than women are.
Although muscle movement is an extraordinary complex process that involves millions of nerve cells, this disease pinpoints relatively small sections of the brain, called the basal cell ganglia. When the nerve cells there begin to deteriorate, they create a chemical upset that can ultimately render the whole body disabled. In a healthy brain, two neurotransmitters, called acetylcholine and dopamine, work in tandem to regulate muscle actions. Acetylcholine helps muscles contract-without it, we'd be limp, unable to stand or even sit down-while dopamine tempers acetylcholine's effect. But the brain deterioration of Parkinson's throws this chemical duo off balance, reducing the quantities of dopamine and resulting in muscles that are too tightly contracted.
The symptoms of Parkinson's develop gradually, usually over a period of ten or fifteen years. The first sign is usually a tremor of one hand, which disappears when you move the hand or go to sleep. As the disorder progresses, the trembling is more pronounced and spreads to other parts of the body, usually the arms, the legs, and the head. The arms and the legs, in addition to shaking, may feel heavy and rigid, and you gradually lose the ability to write smoothly and speak clearly. As your muscles tighten, you may have trouble moving your bowels regularly. You may shuffle as you walk, with your head, neck, and shoulders hunched over and your arms held to your sides. One or both hands develop the characteristic "pill-rolling" movement, in which the thumb and the forefinger rub against each other, one making a clockwise circular motion, the other moving counterclockwise. Parkinson's often keeps the facial muscles in a nearly constant state of contraction; the face may take on a mask-like appearance, with staring, unblinking eyes and a drooling mouth. Eventually, everyday tasks become difficult to manage. Simply getting out of a chair or speaking a clear sentence may be impossible. Although the muscular debility in these advanced stages is overwhelming, the person's mind is unaffected, and the affected body parts usually don't hurt or even feel numb.
Scientists still haven't determined exactly what causes the nerve cells of the basal cell ganglia to deteriorate, resulting in low dopamine levels, but we can base some tentative theories on several clues. For one, the incidence of Parkinson's is rising at an extraordinary rate: the percentage of cases in the United States has increased ten-fold since the 1970s. This soaring rate suggests that the disease is strongly influenced by environmental factors.
Finally, medications-both prescription and illicit-and environmental toxins are known to induce tremors in individuals. Given these facts, it seems likely that a poisoned body system greatly increases the risk of incurring Parkinson's. Bodies can be made toxic from exposure to heavy metals, carbon monoxide, pesticides, insecticides, and drugs; they can also be poisoned by a poor diet or allergic responses to food. Finally, free radicals, which destroy or damage cells, are a suspect in any degenerative disease.
The most common therapy for this disease is levodopa (L-dopa), which is sold in the United States under the brand name Sinemet. Leodopa is taken up by the brain and changed into dopamine. For some patients, it significantly improves mobility and allows them to function more normally. As Parkinson's disease worsens over time, larger doses must be taken. The drug can have debilitating side effects for some patients, such as involuntary movements, tics, and hallucinations. Also carbidopa, the other active ingredient (besides levodopa) in the drug Sinemet, works to prolong the effects of levodopa and help reduce its side effects. Carbidopa works by slowing the conversion of levodopa to dopamine in the bloodstream so that more of it reaches the brain. Another common drug is Comtan (entacapone), which has the same effect as carbidopa when taken along with levodopa. It blocks a key enzyme that is responsible for breaking down levodopa before it reaches the brain. Similarly, the drug deprenyl (Eldepryl) can enhance and prolong the levodopa response by delaying the breakdown of levodopa-formed dopamine.
Other medications such as Parlodel (bromocriptine), Requip (ropinirole), Permax (pergolide), and Mirapex (pramipexole dihydrocholoride) work directly on cells of the substantia nigra in the brain in a way that imitates dopamine. Still other drugs like Artane (trihexyphenidyl), Symmetrel (amantadine), and Cogentin (benztropine) are used to help improve tremors. The most common side effects of drugs for Parkinson's disease are hallucinations, mental confusion, and dyskinesia. Surgery is generally used as a last resort. This involves destroying certain parts of the brain that are overactive in this disease. A less invasive option than destroying certain brain tissues is deep brain stimulation, where a thin electrode is implanted into the brain to block signals that cause symptoms of Parkinson's disease, especially tremors.
If you've been diagnosed with Parkinson's, you should be under the care of an experienced neurologist. He or she will usually want to place you on medications that reduce the symptoms of the disease. Sometimes these drugs are highly effective, but they almost always have strong side effects, so it's important to choose a doctor who listens to your concerns and helps you make informed decisions about the medications or the procedures you try. You should also support your body with good nutrition and take up a cleansing regime to rid yourself of possible toxins. Specific supplements, such as coenzyme Q10, should also be highly considered. In addition, holistic doctors report impressive results with intravenous glutathione therapy.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements shown to
The Prescription for Natural
Cures by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.M.D.
Prescription #1 CoQ10 – Coenzyme Q10 - LifeSource Products - See All of our CoQ10 Products.
Take up to 300 mg daily. Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that has been shown in one preliminary
study to reduce the progression of early-stage Parkinson's disease.
Prescription #2 Vitamin C - LifeSource Products - See All of our Vitamin C Products.
Take 500 mg four
times daily. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that prevents free radical
damage. 2,000mg per day.
Prescription #3 Vitamin E - LifeSource
Take 400 IU up to
four times daily. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that prevents free
Prescription #4 Phyto Greens -
Super Greens - LifeSource
Products - See All of our Phyto
Take an organic
greens formula containing one or more of the super green foods such as
spirulina, chlorella, and wheatgrass. This approach supports detoxification.
Prescription #5 Omega 3, 6 & 9 - LifeSource Products - See All of our Omega 3 – Fish Oil Products.
Take this product as
directed on the bottle, 3 caps would be the best, not 2. Flax seed oil and
evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) are additional options. These are
great EFA's, essential fatty acids!
Prescription #6 NAD - (nicotinamide adenine
Take 25 mg daily.
Preliminary research has found that this supplement improves brain function
and reduces symptoms in people with Parkinson's disease.
Prescription #7 NAC - N-acetyl-L-Cysteine – LifeSource Product
Take 500 mg three times daily. NAC increases levels of glutathione, an
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- Rigid or heavy-feeling arms and legs
- A "pill-rolling" motion of the hand and the thumb
- Difficulty speaking
- A shuffling gait, with the arms close to the body
- A stooped posture
- A mask-like facial expression
- Eventually, an inability to perform most voluntary and semi-voluntary movements
There are no definitive causes know for Parkinson's disease. Suspect causes or aggravating factors may include
- Insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides
- Heavy metals
- Carbon-monoxide poisoning
- Inflammatory brain disorder
- Free radicals
- Poor nutrition
- Food allergies
Studies have found that eating most of the day's protein intake at dinner and keeping protein levels low earlier in the day is helpful. This type of diet should be supervised by a health-care professional.
Raw foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) are high in fiber, which will help keep you regular, and contain antioxidants that fight free radical damage. Follow a diet that is composed of 50 to 75 percent raw, organic foods. If you can't find or afford organic products, make sure to wash everything in clean water before eating.
When you do eat protein, focus on beans, legumes, soy products, or fish (from a clean water source). Note: The consumption of beans has been found to lower the risk of Parkinson's disease.
Use cold-pressed oils in salad dressings. They're high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that's important in the prevention and the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
Fresh vegetable juices are excellent for their mineral content.
Eat live unsweetened yogurt or another cultured product every day. The "friendly" bacteria in cultured foods will help your digestive system to work smoothly.
Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours. Clean-not tap-water will flush toxins and other impurities from our body and will also lend general support to every body system.
Foods to Avoid
It has been observed that a high percentage of people with Parkinson's have an overabundance of protein in their diets. Many patients who stop eating animal meats have noted an improvement in muscle control and coordination.
Do not eat processed of junk food, which contains high levels of chemicals and other toxins.
Avoid artificial sweeteners and preservatives that are known as "excitotoxins." These include aspartame and monosodium glutamate.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, as they can disrupt neurological function.
Overeating leads to a dangerous number of free radicals in your body. It's never a good idea to stuff yourself at mealtimes, but people with Parkinson's should try to keep caloric intake low, while maintaining an excellent nutritional status. Following the recommendations to avoid animal meats and processed food will go a long way toward keeping your calorie count down.
Food allergies are a possible aggravator of Parkinson's disease. If you feel better after abstaining from certain foods, keep them out of your diet.
Every month, do a raw foods fast for two to three days (under a doctor's supervision), meaning that you eat nothing but raw foods and juices (although you can have hot herbal teas). This will help move toxins out of your body and will help step up your digestive process so that you absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Regularly consume fresh vegetable and fruit juices, water, broths, and herbal teas.
Ginkgo biloba improve blood flow and has potent antioxidant properties. Take a standardized extract containing 24 percent flavone glycosides, and take 60 to 80 mg twice daily.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is another detoxifying herb that allows your liver to throw off accumulated toxins and prevents damage from pharmaceutical treatment. Take 250 mg three times daily of an 80 to 85 percent silymarin extract.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) contains a rich source of antioxidants and substances that assist detoxification. Drink the organic tea regularly (2 cups or more daily), or take 500 to 1,500 mg of the capsule form.
Calcium and magnesium are important for nervous system function. Take 1,000 mg of calcium and 500 mg of magnesium.
Calming teas can help you deal with the stress produced by a degenerative disorder. Try passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), skullcap, or valerian.
Consult with a holistic doctor for intravenous glutathione treatment. Glutathione is one of the body's most potent antioxidants, and some doctors report benefit for people with Parkinson's disease from this nontoxic therapy.
- Some form of regular movement is quite beneficial during all the stages of Parkinson's. Walking is appropriate for the early and the middle stages; for a more advanced case, passive stretching and movements, usually carried out by a physical therapist, keep the body in the best shape possible.
- Plan ahead. Install guardrails and banisters in your house, and invest in a few chairs with high arms to help keep yourself mobile as long as possible.
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