Its early symptoms are subtle and easily ignored: fatigue, a general sense of malaise or slight tremor in the hand, arm or leg. For Michael J. Fox, the Hollywood actor with the youthful and ageless face, it was a twitch in his left pinkie that in the space of a month progressed to a tremor in his left hand and achy shoulder. The diagnosis for the actor was Parkinson’s disease. Much mystery has surrounded this disease, which until the actor’s revelation, was not well-known to the public. If you or your loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you would want to read on.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that afflicts almost 500,000 individuals in Asia alone each year, with most of them over the age of 50. Its four major symptoms include tremor, rigidity (a stiffness in the limbs and hips), slowness of movement and problems with balance and stability. There is no cure and the disease usually progress over 10 to 15 years. In its later stages, vision, speech and intellect may be affected and depression is common. Parkinson’s disease results from brain cells that become damaged, in particular, certain nerve cells in the area of the brain known as substansia nigra. These cells are needed to produce dopamine, an important chemical that transmits signals to the brain that affect normal motor function. while the exact cause of the brain cell damage in Parkinson’s patients has not been determined, scientists have several theories, including the accumulation of free radicals, viral infections, exposure to heavy metals and exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides.
Standard treatment involves the use of drugs to replenish the brain’s supply of dopamine. Treatment with L-dopa, however, does bring about negative side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and sometime confusion. These treatments may be wonderfully effective for some patients, but others experience only partial relief or are bothered by side effects. Many find that these treatments seem less effective as the disease progresses. For these and other reasons. More people with Parkinson’s disease are turning to natural treatment with supplements and alternative approaches to complement their conventional care.
Natural Treatment Using Antioxidants
Because the destruction caused by free radicals is suspected as a leading cause of Parkinson’s disease, supplementation with antioxidants is strongly recommended for patients. In fact, a review recently published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition notes that oxidative stress (the destruction caused by free radicals) can promote or initiate degeneration of dopamine neurons. Since L-dopa itself can produce free radicals during its metabolism, combining L-dopa with high levels of multiple antioxidants has the potential to improve the effectiveness of therapy. Let us take a look at some of the most promising antioxidants for Parkinson’s disease.
Vitamins C & E
Vitamin C has been shown to counteract the negative side effects of L-dopa therapy and researchers have established that vitamin E offers protection against Parkinson’s disease. One experimental study showed that supplementation with vitamin C and E helped to delay the beginning of drug treatment for Parkinson’s patients for two years.
This hormone is known to scavenge several highly toxic free radicals and has been shown to reduce the oxidative damage that occurs in Parkinson’s disease. In one study, mice with neural injuries that were given melatonin experienced reduced damage and fewer tremors and seizures. Another study tested melatonin’s ability in the laboratory to rescue dopamine neurons from free radical damage and found that treatment effectively rescued nearly all dying cells.
The National Institutes of Health, which funded a pilot study of the effects of this coenzyme on patients in the early stages of Parkinson’s diseases, suggest that because CoQ10 is both a powerful antioxidant and also helps to transport electrons in the brain, it is theorised to be a potentially protective agent for Parkinson’s disease patients. In fact, several laboratory studies have found that cells from Parkinson’s patients have lower levels of this coenzyme than do those in the general population.
Lifestyle & Alternative Approaches
For best coverage, one should adopt the following alternative approaches to complement the abovementioned natural supplements.
Eat Raw Foods
Parkinson’s patients are encouraged to consume plenty of raw foods, in particular grains, nuts, seeds and fruits, and consume a diet that is high in antioxidants. In addition, patients who are on L-dopa may want to reduce their intake of protein since some studies have indicated that a low-protein diet helps to reduce tapping and tremors.
Relaxation techniques can be very helpful to individuals with Parkinson’s progressive muscle relaxation is one such technique — it is a focused effort to relax in which you begin with the toes and work up the body. This can help relieve psychological tension. It is probably not going to be effective for the rigidity of the disease, but there is always a second degree of stress and tension that occurs in Parkinson’s disease, and relaxation techniques may be able to relieve that.
The progressive debilitation of Parkinson’s disease can take a strong emotional toll on patients and their families. Almost all Parkinson’s disease patients have an accompanying depression or other brain disorder. Because of this, Parkinson’s patients and their family members may find support group useful. These groups provide a forum for the concerns and questions you may have, as well as the moral support that most patients need to overcome this hurdle.