Nervous system | June 10, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
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.
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:
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:
Parkinson’s disease is more common in the ageing population and more likely to affect males than females.
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.
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.
While 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.
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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.
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.
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
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, 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 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.