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Parkinson’s Disease

Nervous system | June 10, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative illness of the nervous system that results in impaired motor functioning and body movement. This can affect a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks such as talking, writing, walking, getting dressed and swallowing. Approximately four people per 1,000 in Australia have Parkinson’s disease. This figure increases to 1 in 100, for people over the age of 60. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, medication, supplements and a change in diet can help manage the symptoms and reduce its progression.

What causes Parkinson’s?

In Parkinson’s disease the nerve cells in the middle area of the brain that control muscular movements start to degenerate. This results in less dopamine than usual. Dopamine is a chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter which is important in the body for:

  • Coordinating smooth, controlled body movements
  • Learning
  • Motivation
  • Regulating mood

The symptoms of Parkinson’s usually start to appear when up to 70% of dopamine producing cells have stopped working.

While the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease remains unclear, factors which contribute to its incidence include:

  • genetics
  • exposure to pesticides
  • toxins and chemicals
  • inflammation of the brain
  • head trauma.

Parkinson’s disease is more common in the ageing population and more likely to affect males than females.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

The symptoms can vary from person to person depending on disease severity. However, the most common symptoms include:

Trembling: This usually occurs in the arms, jaw, legs and face.

Rigidity: The muscles are stiff, especially in the trunk area, arms and legs.

Bradykinesia: This is the term for slowness of movement. This may cause a sudden inability to move, and others may shuffle when they walk.

Poor posture: A person with Parkinson’s disease may stoop over, lose their balance easily and have problems with moving muscles or coordinating body parts.

Other symptoms which can also occur include:

  • Constipation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Urinary problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Trouble speaking or eating normally
  • Fatigue, apathy and depression

Natural options for Parkinson’s disease

The latest research shows that natural treatments for Parkinson’s disease can help improve a person’s quality of life or lower their risk. If you are currently undergoing treatment, check with your doctor or naturopath first to see if the following recommendations are suitable for you.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Natural options for Parkinson’s diseaseWhile foods are essential for life, if we are making poor dietary choices they can also be a great source of toxins which can negatively impact our health.

Consider consuming an organic, wholefoods plant-based diet that boosts the bodies intake of natural compounds that fight oxidative stress and inflammation. 

In addition to this, avoid processed foods that contain preservatives and synthetic ingredients.

Make sure your drinking water is free from chemicals by investing in a water filter.


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Eat foods high in fibre to aid bowel movements and foods high in healthy fats such as wild caught fish, avocado, walnuts, pepitas and cold-pressed olive oil. Interestingly, frequent consumption of dairy products appears to be associated with a modest increased risk of Parkinson’s disease in women and men.

Co-enzyme Q10

Many mechanisms have been implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease including oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Co-enzyme Q10 is a natural supplement which helps to improve the function of mitochondria in our cells, while acting as a potent antioxidant.

Coenzyme Q10 appears to slow the progressive deterioration of function in Parkinson’s disease, although the results of trials in this area have mixed results. It is best to take co-enzyme Q10 in its reduced form ubiquinol and in higher dosages of up to 1200mg/day.

N-acetylcysteine

Several lines of evidence indicate that depletion of glutathione (a potent naturally occurring intracellular antioxidant) is a contributory factor in the development of Parkinson’s disease. N-acetylcysteine is a precursor to glutathione and helps to replenish levels in the body to protect our nerves from damage.

N-acetylcysteine is a practitioner only product and requires a prescription from your naturopath

Green tea polyphenols

Epidemiology evidence indicates drinking green tea has the potential to protect or reverse neurodegeneration disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the main extraction from green tea which has neuroprotective properties due to its high antioxidant capacity. Matcha green tea powder is the richest source of green tea polyphenols and drinking this daily may reduce your risk of Parkinson’s disease or slow disease progression.

Curcumin

Curcumin, a natural polyphenol compound derived from the curry spice turmeric, is known for several biological and medicinal effects, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and nerve protective activities. Curcumin has shown therapeutic potential for neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease in animal models, but it is unclear how these findings translate to human health.

Antioxidants

AntioxidantsAntioxidants help to scavenge free radicals to prevent cellular damage. Vitamins C and E, as well as resveratrol may prove beneficial in Parkinson’s disease to ameliorate oxidative stress. Again, results have been mixed from pooled data but observational data in humans suggest that the combined administration of high-dose vitamin E and vitamin C supplements was associated with a reduced progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Key points to consider

  • Parkinson’s disease affects nerve cells and is chronic and progressive
  • Loss of dopamine levels affects body movements in Parkinson’s
  • Having a healthy wholefoods diet can naturally reduce inflammation and protect our nerves from damage
  • Co-enzyme Q10, green tea polyphenols, N-acetylcysteine, antioxidants and curcumin are promising nutraceuticals in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

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References

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/parkinsons-disease

https://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/guide/eating-right-parkinsons#3

Shah SPDuda JE. Dietary modifications in Parkinson's disease: A neuroprotective intervention? Med Hypotheses. 2015 Dec;85(6):1002-5

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26364043

Hughes KC, et al. Intake of dairy foods and risk of Parkinson disease. Neurology. 2017 Jul 4;89(1):46-52

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28596209

Shults CW, et al. Effects of coenzyme Q10 in early Parkinson disease: evidence of slowing of the functional decline. Arch Neurol. 2002 Oct;59(10):1541-50

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12374491

Monti DA, et al. N-Acetyl Cysteine May Support Dopamine Neurons in Parkinson's Disease: Preliminary Clinical and Cell Line Data. PLoS One. 2016 Jun 16;11(6):e0157602

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27309537

Jurado-Coronel JC, et al. Implication of Green Tea as a Possible Therapeutic Approach for Parkinson Disease. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2016;15(3):292-300

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26831259

Jin H, et al. Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants for treatment of Parkinson's disease: preclinical and clinical outcomes. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Aug;1842(8):1282-94

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24060637

Ji HFShen L. The multiple pharmaceutical potential of curcumin in Parkinson's disease. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014 Mar;13(2):369-73

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23844695

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