Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the most common serious movement disorder in the world, affecting about 1% of adults older than 55 years. It represents the most common example of a family of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by variable degrees of “parkinsonism” which is defined as a paucity and slowness of movement (bradykinesia), tremor at rest, rigidity, shuffling gait, and flexed posture. Parkinsonism results from a reduction of dopaminergic transmission within the basal ganglia.
Sporadic and idiopathic PD account for nearly 75% of all cases of parkinsonism; the remaining 25% result from genetic and other causes including other neurodegenerative disorders, cerebrovascular disease, and drugs.
The peak age of onset is in the 60s (range is 35 to 85 years), and the course of the illness ranges between 10 and 25 years. A familial cluster of autosomal dominant and recessive genetic transmissions of PD comprises nearly 5% of cases. These are characterized by an earlier age of onset (typically before age 50 years) and a longer course than the more typical “sporadic” PD. Epidemiological evidence points to a complex interaction between genetic vulnerability and environmental factors. Risk factors include a positive family history, male gender, head injury, exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals, etc. In fact, toxic chemicals are irrefutably linked to PD and individuals with PD usually have genetic predispositions which make them less able to detoxify toxic chemicals. There are certain factors linked to a reduced incidence of PD including smoking among other things.
A diagnosis of PD can be made when someone has at least two of the three cardinal signs — rest tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia. Tremor is present in 85% of people with true PD. The gradual onset of symptoms further supports the diagnosis. Masked facies, decreased eye blinking, stooped posture, and decreased arm swing complete the early picture. The onset may also be heralded by vague feelings of weakness and fatigue, incoordination, aching, and discomfort.
Other aspects of PD include depression and anxiety, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, sensory abnormalities and pain, loss of smell (anosmia), and disturbances of autonomic function which can produce diverse manifestations, including orthostatic low blood pressure, constipation, urinary urgency and frequency, excessive sweating, and seborrhea. Some of these other aspects may be present long before the onset of motor signs. The physiologic basis of the non-motor signs and symptoms are explained in part by widespread involvement of brainstem, olfactory, thalamic, and cortical structures in the brain.
Changes in mood, cognition, and behavior are common at the later stages of PD Depression occurs frequently and can occur at any phase of the illness. Anxiety disorders in PD can appear in isolation or as an accompaniment of depression or progressive cognitive impairment. They can also be due to a “dopamine hunger”. Cognitive abnormalities affect many people with PD and so are sleep disorders. Most are mild to moderate in severity. Difficulties with complex tasks, long-term planning, and memorizing or retrieving new information are common. Although some of these symptoms represent bradyphrenia (the cognitive equivalent of bradykinesia, slowness of movement), it is now clear that the dysfunction also includes working memory, attention, mental flexibility, visuospatial function, word fluency, and executive functions. Usually premotor symptoms such as depression, poor cognitive function, and poor sleep often occur years before a diagnosis of PD is made and by the time the diagnosis is made, more than 60% of the neurons related to movement (substantia nigra) are degenerated.
In PD dopaminergic and other cells die due to a combination of factors including: (1) genetic vulnerability, (2) oxidative stress, (3) proteosomal, and (4) environmental factors.
The following might be difficult to read, so if you are in a vulnerable state you can skip this part and go directly to “tips”. If you continue reading, take into consideration that you might still get angry or offended with me for saying all of this, but I think is still worth talking about it because it includes some personality characteristics which can be improved and are involved in the dis-ease.
Parkinson’s disease can be related to fear and an unconscious desire to control everything and everyone. Perhaps in relation to this, risk takers ‘escape Parkinson’s’. Dan Neuharth shared some insights regarding controlling issues in his book Controlling Parents where he encourages people to recognize what they are afraid of and to start taking steps towards doing those things they are scared about. I can understand if you are put off by the title of the book, but it is very useful because he provides some insights in the human aspects of fear. I’m going to quote here the book to bring some important points [the text is edited to make it easier to understand]:
Fear is a key commonality among controlling persons. Knowing your needs and fears will make you understand why you control, even when you are not aware that you are controlling. You’ll also be better able to grasp the source of the negative messages from your “inner voice”.
The inner’s voice critical messages in controlling persons, no matter how mystifying, is driven by FEARS: fear of being seen as flawed, fear of feeling powerless, fear of feeling invalidated, fear of feeling vulnerable, fear of losing emotional control.
One of the fascinating aspects of human behavior is that it often compensates in reverse and generally without being aware of it. Someone who feels particularly small may go around acting larger than life. Someone who feels adrift in an emotional rapids may become expressionless. Someone who fears rejection may reject others first. Feeling flawed, controlling persons aimed at being perfect. Feeling small, they act big. Feeling afraid, they frighten others. Feeling bad about themselves, they shame others. Feeling wrong, they insist on being right. Feeling doubt, they confuse. Feeling deprived, they withhold.
The need to feel powerful and worthy becomes a life-or-death crisis. Avoiding vulnerability is suddenly a matter of survival because powerlessness, vulnerability, and unworthiness remind them of their desperate days, when they felt flawed, full of doubt, out of control, and afraid of their lives. Controlling persons and their inner negative voices will do anything to avoid recognitions we all must face:
There are forces and people more powerful than I am.
There are people who don’t need me or fear me.
Time, death, and illness will humble me; this is the price of being human.
Unconsciously, they adopt myths about themselves: the self-made man, the perfect mom, the good provider, the in-control dad, etc. These myths give them the illusion that they are in total control of their destinies, masters of the universe after a childhood of feeling little mastery. To admit anything different would once more leave controlling persons feeling powerless. This may explain why some of them seem disconnected form the present, often unaware of their surroundings and feelings. Living in the moment risks loss of control and lacks guarantees – exactly how controlling persons felt when they had little mastery (childhood and/or difficult experiences). Controlling persons are often unaware of why they act as they do. If they realized what lay underneath their maladaptive behavior, they’d have to face their painful experiences, their dependency on others for their feelings of self-worth, and their desperate hunger for the symbols of success. They’d have to face the fact that they are as controlled as anyone else.
Controlling persons rarely learned that facing their feelings or admitting their limits can be healing. Because they try to control everything, they tend to think that others are doing the same. Since most controllers want to be sure they are never dominated, they move to control first. Again, is worth repeating the lack of awareness of this process.
In short, being a controlling person is a defensive action. A combination of factors – how the controlling person was raised, lack of knowing better, external events, internal needs, and the footprints of trauma/bad experiences – leave controlling persons, unless they get help, playing out a lifelong defensive drama. Even as adults no longer at the mercy of past vulnerabilities and trauma, most controlling persons dare not acknowledge how powerless they once felt. They may even deny that something bad occurred that made them feel powerless.
Because in the past they didn’t get sufficient help, attention, and love, controlling persons generally feel that they are not adequate – though they may act in quite the opposite way. Controlling is a futile effort to secure guarantees that they will be loved and safe rather than powerless, invalidated, or out of control. Yet it is costly because: Persons who fear being judged as flawed can never let others see them as they truly are. Persons who need to feel powerful must always be on guard against threats to their power. Persons who fear invalidation cannot tolerate questions or uncertainty. Persons who fear vulnerability view everything and everyone as potentially threatening. Persons who must avoid feeling out of control are likely to miss out on joy, spontaneity, and love.
Well sure, the above applies to a lot of people without Parkinson to some degree or another, but still it is worth sharing it here, in view of the “fear and controlling issues” that may play a role in the dis-ease. Even if you are skeptical, it is worth giving it at least a thought. And if you think that most people don’t have anything terribly bad happening to them so as to shape their view of the world and how they interact in it, think again. Childhood trauma can be anything that has a significant subjective impact in a child’s view, in short any significant bad experience in the person’s view. Furthermore, author Martha Stow explains in her book Myth of Sanity in plain fact that the list of consciousness -assailing events that are witnessed or endured by even the most protected children is extremely long: serious accidents, car crashes, the illnesses and deaths of loved ones, the fear or reality of peer ridicule, petrifying medical procedures, devastating custody battles, predictions of nuclear annihilation or environmental collapse, macabre lessons in how to get away from the “stranger” whom protective parents are constantly expecting. That gives an idea of what we might had endured during our early years.
What is more, being controlling and with fear means that you lived or are currently feeling controlled. In any case, some recapitulation and meditation of past and current issues is useful, at your own pace and without pushing it too hard. If you are feeling abnormally depressed or anxious, please consult a psychotherapist.
There is no effective prescription drug for PD and prescription drugs in a person who is already chemically overloaded with environmental toxins can be quite burdensome.
So here are a few recommendations that might help you improve your well being.
1) Make a healthy diet and physical activity your main guide to improve your brain chemistry. An anti-inflammatory diet which eliminates foods which you might be sensitive to is the ideal one. Regular activity is strongly encouraged, exercise can promote neuroprotection against neurotoxins and remaining mentally active is equally important.
2) Avoid MSG! MSG is a neurotoxin and Parkinsonism is linked to accumulation of glutamic acid coming from MSG. Read labels well and here is a link with possible hidden names for MSG: http://www.msgmyth.com/hidename.htm
3) CoQ10 is shown to be very good for PD, it is good because it covers the oxidative stress. In fact, some individuals with PD may have a defect in the enzyme that needs CoQ10 to operate properly.
4) Another thing to have in mind is to remove your mercury amalgams. This has to be done by someone competent as sometimes you can swallow some mercury during the procedure. Remember also that when you eat fish, the bigger the fish in the food chain, the more mercury it will have. See Amalgam Illness, Diagnosis and Treatment by Andrew Hall Cutler PhD PE for more useful valuable information.
5) Glutathione. Glutathione, which is produced by every cell in the body, is responsible for a number of functions including removing or neutralizing dangerous substances that we are exposed to on a daily basis, including toxic metals. Toxins, pollution, disease, stress, and poor diet can all contribute to loss of glutathione. When glutathione levels reach a critically low level, we are much more vulnerable to toxins and immune dysfunction. There is evidence that glutathione depletion can lead to neurological damage; low levels of glutathione have been found in Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s patients also show low levels of glutathione not only in the brain but also in the liver thus they also tend to be poor detoxifiers. Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and director of the Perlmutter Health Center in Naples, Florida, and the author of the book BrainRecovery.com – Powerful Therapy for Challenging Brain Disorders, has been injecting patients with glutathione to treat Parkinson’s symptoms with good results. Within less than an hour of intravenous injection, Parkinson’s patients experienced an almost complete restoration of the ability to walk, turn around and move their arms. Perlmutter calls this “the glutathione miracle.” There has been similar results over a period of two weeks with only a minimal application of transdermal magnesium chloride therapy. The supplements N-Acetylcysteine and Alpha Lipoic Acid are usually better sources of glutathione, since glutathione supplements are poorly absorbed.
6) Avoid aspartame!! Pure poison!
7) Check your vitamin D blood levels to determine if you need vitamin D supplementation.
8) Watch out for aluminum, although the FDA and manufacturers say that “aluminum” in ‘antacids’ is not “absorbed’, studies since 1986 have shown that it IS, especially in cases of kidney problems and in the presence of acidic foods such as citrus fruits or soda pop. There is increasing evidence that aluminum is involved in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and some other nervous system problems. Aluminum in cookware and soft drink cans poses the same problem in these areas.
9) Anybody taking statins (to lower cholesterol), who deplete the body of CoQ10 is predisposed for more chances of parkinsonism. Don’t take statins, in any case, cholesterol is not our enemy, inflammation is. Our brains needs cholesterol to function properly.
10) Limit cell phone utilization. Take the necessary precautions when using your cell phone.
11) If you are already a smoker, why quit. Smoking lowers Parkinson’s disease risk. Make sure you don’t smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day though.
12) Magnesium. Many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be overcome with high magnesium supplementation, shaking can be prevented.
13) Stay away from soy! The brain uses the amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine to synthesize the key neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, brain chemicals that promote alertness and activity. Dopamine is crucial to fine muscle coordination. People whose hands tremble from Parkinson’s disease have a diminished ability to synthesize dopamine. An increased incidence of depression and other mood disorders are associated with low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. Also, the current scientific consensus on attention-deficit disorder points to a dopamine imbalance.
Soy has been shown to affect tyrosine hydroxylase activity in animals, causing the utilization rate of dopamine to be “profoundly disturbed.” When soy lecithin supplements were given throughout perinatal development, they reduced activity in the cerebral cortex and “altered synaptic characteristics in a manner consistent with disturbances in neural function.” Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and at the National Institutes of Health are finding a connection between tyrosine hydroxylase activity, thyroid hormone receptors, and depleted dopamine levels in the brain, particularly in the substantia nigra, a region associated with the movement difficulties characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.
14) It is worth reminding you of staying away from pesticides and insecticides.
15) A new study has confirmed a relationship between consuming large amounts of dairy products and an increase in the rate of Parkinson’s disease in men.
16) Vitamin E supplementation, as overall and individual performance, mental and daily activities can improve with it.
17) GABA and 5HTP. Nutritional supplements of GABA are helpful for the health of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. So is 5-HTP (a word of caution: it may interact with L-dopa causing then a hardening of the skin, it shouldn’t be taken with MAO inhibitors either). They help to balance the brain chemistry.
18) Limit your sugar intake as it is also related with Parkinson’s disease.
19) Avoid genetically modified foods.
20) Calcium, and it should never be taken without magnesium.
21) Potassium, as it aids nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction
22) Coenzyme A. It works with CoQ10 to streamline metabolism, increase energy.
23) L-Phenylalanine and L-tyrosine (amino acids) which are converted into dopamine. But don’t take them if pregnant or if you take MAO inhibitors or levodopa, or if you suffer from panic attacks, diabetes or high blood pressure (or take them under medical supervision). Amino acids can usually be safely used with psychiatric medication with the exception of MAO inhibitors (Parnate, Nardil, Marplan), but combining amino acids with prescription medication should be done under the supervision of a physician.
24) Vitamin B complex as it is very important in brain function and chemistry. If you are taking levodopa, consult your doctor, Vitamin B6 is contraindicated when you are taking levodopa. On the other hand, drugs for PD such as Sinement deplete B vitamins. The recommended doses are the following: folate (folic acid) 800mcg with at least 400 coming from the active form 5-MTHF (L-methyl-folate). B6 or pyridoxine 50mg. B12 1000 mcg with half of it coming in the form of methylcobalamin. Some need up to 250mg of B6 or the active B5 form called pyridoxyl-5-phosphate to be most effective. Occasionally B12 shots may be required, but sublingual forms of B12 may also be effective.
25) Vitamin C, as antioxidants slow progression of the disease.
26) Selenium and zinc, other important antioxidants.
27) Flaxseed and fish oils are always important.
28) Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) which stimulates the production of choline for brain function.
29) Heal your gut, it is crucial to have a healthy gut, which is literally your second brain. Take probiotics and digestive enzymes with each meal.
30) Herbs that help to detoxify your body:
Burdock root, dandelion root, ginger root, and milk thistle detoxify the liver
Mullein, Siberian ginseng, and yarrow stimulate the lymphatic system.
Hawthorn, red clover, and sarsaparilla cleanse the blood.
Black cohosh (do not take if pregnant), catnip, lemon balm, passionflower, and valerian root to help nourish the nervous system.
Ginkgo biloba helps improve brain function.
Supplementing is important because by correcting vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, you can feel better, improve your mood and mental sharpness, memory and ability to focus, and you will have also more energy. By correcting deficiencies and eating a healthy diet, you may improve dramatically your condition.
Please check the links above and the information provided, you can improve your health!
Brainrecovery.com, David Perlmutter, M.D. 2000
Detoxify or Die, Sherry A. Rogers, M.D. 2002
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, MD. Avery., 2006Share