Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which part of the brain becomes progressively more damaged over many years (a progressive neurological condition). As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease. Incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated four per cent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50. Men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson’s than women.
In the UK It is estimated that around 1 in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease and there are currently 127,000 people with the condition.
The average age for the symptoms to start is around 60; although around 1 in 20 cases first develop in people aged under 50.
Men are one-and-half times more likely to get Parkinson’s disease than women.
In England, the ethnic group most likely to develop Parkinson’s disease is white people. Rates are significantly lower in black and Asian people.
Parkinson’s disease is not fatal but the condition can place great strain on the body.
Some people respond well to treatments and only experience mild to moderate disability, while others experience severe disability.
Due to the advancements in treatment, people with Parkinson’s disease now often have a normal or near-normal life expectancy.
Parkinson’s disease affects people in many different ways with a variety of symptoms. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually begin slowly and develop gradually, often in no particular order. Severity of the symptoms also varies between people.
It would be unlikely for a person to experience all or most of the symptoms listed in this section.
Potential symptoms can vary widely but are within three broad categories:
- symptoms that affect physical movement – known as motor symptoms
- symptoms that affect mood, thinking and behaviour – known as neuropsychiatric symptoms
- symptoms that affect your autonomic nervous system (the nervous system that controls your autonomic functions such as breathing and urination) known as autonomic dysfunction.
Common motor symptoms
These are the three most common motor symptoms:
Tremor – the most common initial symptom is uncontrollable shaking, known as tremor. Shaking usually begins in the hand or arm. It is more likely to occur when the limb is at rest and can be more noticeable when the patient is stressed, anxious or tired. Shaking usually decreases when the limb is being used. The presence of a tremor does not necessarily mean that you have Parkinson’s disease. Tremor is also a symptom of other conditions and is usually due to a harmless condition called essential tremor.
Slowness of movement (bradykinesia) – Parkinson’s disease can make your physical movements much slower than normal, particularly when you try to start moving. The medical term for slowness of movement is bradykinesia. Often the first sign of bradykinesia is that you no longer swing one of your arms when walking. Everyday tasks, such as buttoning clothes, writing with a pen and opening jars, can become difficult and time consuming. Bradykinesia can affect your legs resulting in a distinctive slow and shuffling kind of walk with very small steps. And occasionally, in more advanced cases, a person can temporarily lose the ability to walk and their feet become ‘frozen to the floor’. Bradykinesia can also affect the face and voice leading to a loss of normal facial expressions. A person also blinks less than usual.
Stiffness of muscles (rigidity) – Stiffness and tension may be experienced in the arm and leg muscles. This is known as rigidity. There are usually to types of rigidity – lead-pipe rigidity. where there is a feeling of constant resistance in the affected muscles and cogwheel rigidity, where there is resistance in affected muscles followed by relaxation; as if you were rotating a cogwheel.
Other motor symptoms
Some people with Parkinson’s disease can experience involuntary muscle cramps, spasms and contractions. These can occur independently but can also be a response to the dopaminergic drugs. In cases of Parkinson’s disease dystonia usually affects the muscles in the calves and feet, though occasionally other parts of the body can be affected, such as hands, head, neck and eyelids.
In some cases of more advanced Parkinson’s disease a person loses much of their natural sense of balance. This is known as postural instability and can be a leading cause of falls and injuries.
Depression is thought to affect up to half of people with Parkinson’s disease and is thought to arise from a number of complex and inter-related factors, such as:
- the reduction of dopamine and other chemicals inside the brain (dopamine can have a powerful influence on mood)
- the stress of living with Parkinson’s disease
- the impact that Parkinson’s disease can have on your relationship with others
The sudden return of symptoms can make people feel anxious, and in the most serious cases, trigger a panic attack.
Mild cognitive impairment and dementia:
If you are in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease you may experience what is known as mild cognitive impairment. This means your pattern of thinking can become disrupted and you have problems with activities that require planning and organisation.
Around 40% of people with advanced Parkinson’s disease can go on to develop a more severe form of cognitive impairment known as dementia.
Symptoms of dementia in people with Parkinson’s disease include:
- significant problems with memory, learning new information and understanding written and spoken language
- sudden outburst of emotions such as anger, excitement and frustration
- difficulties recognising previously familiar people and places
- poor concentration and low attention span
- visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not real)
- delusions (believing in things that are not true)
Having both hallucinations and delusions and being unable to tell the difference between your imagination and reality is known as psychosis.
Insomnia (problems sleeping) is thought to affect around half of those with Parkinson’s disease. Periods of insomnia often come and go over the course of the disease.
Causes of insomnia are often complex. They can include changes to the brain, side-effects of some of the medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease, breathing difficulties during sleep, abnormal movement during sleep and the natural effects of aging.
This in turn can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden dozing during the day. Some medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease can also make you feel drowsy during the day.
Your automatic nervous system is the part of your brain and nervous system that regulates functions of your body that you do not have to think about, such as breathing, swallowing, digesting food and passing urine. The changes in brain chemistry that occur in Parkinson’s disease can disrupt many of these functions and cause the following:
- problems with urination – such as having to get up frequently during the night to urinate and, or separately from, urinary incontinence (the unintentional passing of urine)
- in men – inability to obtain or sustain an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- in women – difficulties in becoming sexually aroused and achieving an orgasm
- a sudden drop in blood pressure when moving from a sitting or lying position to a standing one (orthostatic hypotension) – this can cause dizziness, blurred vision and in some cases fainting
- excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
- difficulties swallowing (dysphagia) – which in turn can lead to malnutrition (not having enough nutrients in your diet) and dehydration (not drinking enough fluids)
- excessive production of saliva (drooling)
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. Nerve cells in this part of the brain are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a messenger between the brain and the nervous system, and helps control and co-ordinate body movements.
If these nerve cells become damaged or die, the amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced. This means that the part of the brain controlling movement cannot work so well, which causes movements to become slow and abnormal.
The loss of nerve cells is a slow process. The level of dopamine in the brain falls over time. Only when 80% of the nerve cells in the substantia nigra have been lost will the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear and gradually become more severe.
It is not known why the loss of nerve cells associated with Parkinson’s disease occurs.
Research is on-going to identify potential causes.
In rare cases Parkinson’s disease can run in families; in this situation abnormal genes are responsible, but the exact role genetics plays in causing ordinary (sporadic) Parkinson’s disease is unclear.
So far at least nine genetic mutations have been identified as increasing a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (a genetic mutation is when the instructions carried in all living cells become scrambled in some way, meaning that one or more functions of the body does not work as it should).
However it is thought that in most cases genetics is not solely responsible for Parkinson’s disease and there needs to be an environmental factor to trigger it in genetically susceptible people.
Research shows that exposure to toxins (harmful chemicals) could be the environmental trigger. Possible toxins could include:
- pesticides and herbicides used in farming
- toxins released by industrial plants
- air pollution related to road traffic
Arguably the most compelling evidence that toxins play a role is that drug users who injected themselves with a heroin substitute called MPTP went on to quickly develop symptoms similar to Parkinson’s. It was found that once MPTP crossed into the brain it started killing brain cells. It is possible other toxins could have a similar effect. Parkinson’s disease has also been associated with toxic build-up of heavy metals in the body, especially mercury from dental amalgams. To slow the progression of Parkinson’s amalgam fillings should be replaced, followed by a detoxification program.
If you do the Jeff McCombs Candida Protocol you will already be avoiding all of the foods that are detrimental to health. However here are the foods to avoid at all costs.
- Do not consume any artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, NutraSweet or Aspartame
- Do not consume high fructose corn syrup or mono-sodium glutamate.
- Do not drink any carbonated beverages.
- Avoid all fast food or chain restaurants and all processed food.
- Avoid all canned food.
- Eat mostly fresh, organic vegetables and fruits.
The emphasis should be on whole foods with lots of fluids, raw foods (50 per cent to 75 per cent of the diet) and sprouts. Green, leafy vegetables are recommended, along with rutabagas (swede or turnip), sesame seeds and sesame butter. If you are taking the drug Levodopa, it is recommended to decrease the foods that are rich in Vitamin B6 – whole grains (especially oats), raw nuts (especially peanuts), bananas, potatoes, liver and fish, as this can make Levodopa ineffective. Patients taking the drug Sinemet do not need to avoid B6-rich foods or B6 supplements.
It is recommended that you increase your intake of foods rich in antioxidants (chemicals that scavenge and eat-up so-called ‘free radicals’ –- tiny molecules that circulate in your tissues and damage those tissues.) Free radicals have a special affinity for cells that produce dopamine. So the greater the number of antioxidants in your system, the fewer the number of circulating free radicals. Theoretically this should reduce the rate of loss of dopamine cells over time.
Foods which are rich in antioxidants include spinach), broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, red kidney beans, pinto beans, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, plums and apples. Tea, especially green tea and black tea, contains a lot of antioxidants. Red wine and dark juices, such as pomegranate and blueberry are also rich in antioxidants.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient for most tissues in your body so make sure you consume adequate amounts. Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Assessment of individual amino acids is important. Consult an orthomolecular doctor. Other useful nutrients include GABA, calcium, and magnesium, vitamin B complex (but not to be taken with Levodopa), lecithin, vitamin C, vitamin E, evening primrose oil, multivitamin/mineral complex, and DHEA (a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands). Consult a licensed health practitioner first.
Rserachers from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia, reported that monkeys suffering from neurological damage, regained their ability to walk and climb after receiving injections of GM1 ganglioside, a substance that occurs natural in the nerve cells. The research found it stimulated dopamine production. The coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) (25-50 mg per) day administered intravenously has also been shown to produce a beneficial effect in patients with Parkinson’s. Selenium is also recommended for its ability to detoxify mercury poisoning.
A study revealed patients who were given injections of 100mg of neotrophin-1 (complex glycoproteins, in this case derived from snake venom), resulted in dramatic improvement after a period of six to eight weeks.
- Vitamins D and K are essential to strengthen skin and bones. Take Vitamin D3 50,000-100,000 International Units a day http:/// for a period of up to 4 weeks.
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually disease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
- Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.
- . Find out more by clicking here.
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here or go to www.thetappingsolution.com or www.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
Ayurveda and Parkinson’s:www.aapna.org/Kampa%20Vata.pdf
Acupuncture in the treatment of Parkinson’s: www.jcm.co.uk/product/catalog/product/view/8015/the-treatment-of-parkinsons-disease-by-acupuncture-and-herbal-medicine
CoQ10 may slow progression of Parkinson’s: www.naturalnews.com/026664_CoQ10_disease_patients.html
Pesticides found to cause Parkinson’s: www.naturalnews.com/020446_Parkinsons_pesticides.html
Macuna Pruriens, a natural remedy for Parkinson’s disease: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BZIqUVmCIs
Herbal treatment for Parkinson’s: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D55SeBbE4k
Chinese herbs and Parkinson’s: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUdMo80z6So
Caffeine – The new treatment for Parkinson’s Disease? www.care2.com/greenliving/caffeine-the-new-treatment-for-parkinsons.html
Dairy foods and the heightened risk of Parkinson’s disease: aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/165/9/998.full
Ayurveda and Parkinson’s: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1293381/pdf/jrsocmed00121-0049.pdf
Mucuna Pruriens and Parkinson’s: www.naturalnews.com/028938_Mucuna_Parkinsons.html
Beat Parkinson’s disease naturally: www.naturalnews.com/034287_Parkinsons_disease_natural_remedies.html
Pesticides cause Parkinson’s: www.naturalnews.com/027098_pesticides_disease_pesticide.html
Eating berries lowers risk of Parkinson’s: www.naturalnews.com/031698_berries_Parkinsons.html
Banned pesticide Benomyl and Parkinson’s link: blogs.naturalcures.com/pesticides-and-parkinsons-new-link-discovered
Further Information (links and books)
Natural Therapies for Parkinson’s Disease by Dr. Laurie Mischley; Natural Remedies for Parkinson’s Disease: What Works and Why by Jeffrey Fisher; The Brain Wash: A Powerful, All-Natural Program to Protect Your Brain Against Alzheimer’s, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Parkinson’s, and Other Diseases by Michelle Schoffro Cook; Stop Alzheimer’s Now!: How to Prevent & Reverse Dementia, Parkinson’s, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis & Other Neurodegenerative Disorders by Bruce Fife and Russell L. Blaylock.
Andrea Butje | Aromahead firstname.lastname@example.org – aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt email@example.com – organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA firstname.lastname@example.org – meditation, stress
Judith Hoad email@example.com – herbalist.
Kath May firstname.lastname@example.org – reiki, tai chi.
Lillian Bridges email@example.com – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika firstname.lastname@example.org – aromatherapy.
Rakesh GAC@AyurvedicLifeStyles.com – Ayurvedic Practitioner.