Parkinson's disease is a common
neurological disease which brings disability to millions of sufferers
around the world. It affects one in 400 older people. Parkinson's
progressively worse over the years.
Parkinson's disease is due to damage to
certain areas of the brain with a consequent loss of the vital chemical
called dopamine. This is a messenger molecule, helping information flow
smoothly from one part of the brain to another. The damage can be caused
by certain chemicals, aging in general and free radicals in particular,
and other unknown reasons.
Parkinson's disease symptoms include:
- stiffness of the limbs
- shaking of the hands, head or face
- difficulty in walking and in
- weight loss
- loss of balance
There are several variants of
Parkinson's disease but there is no known cure, although the treatment aims to
provide relief from the symptoms.
The majority of conventional drugs
strive to restore the missing dopamine by stimulating its production or
by preventing its destruction. These drugs are called dopamine agonists.
Other drugs are used to reduce some of the signs of the disease -
anticholinergic drugs are used to reduce the tremor in particular - but
the treatment doesn't always work smoothly.
Selegiline, a drug also marketed under
the names Eldepryl or Deprenyl, prevents dopamine from being destroyed
too soon and it is used by many patients. Some scientists believe that
it may not only improve the Parkinson's disease symptoms but can also slow down the disease.
Others go even further and claim that selegiline may help prevent
Parkinson's disease from appearing in the first place and can even help
prevent other neurological diseases. They believe that selegiline
shields the brain against free radical damage and minimizes the
premature death of brain cells. In some experiments it was found to
prolong the lifespan of animals, improve sex drive and memory, and
protect against the toxins which may cause Parkinson's disease.
Supporters of selegiline recommend a
dose of 10mg a week, which is well below that used in actual Parkinson's
patients. It is only used under medical supervision, but there are no
reliable human studies regarding its alleged anti-aging properties.
Most doctors dismiss the view that
selegiline has any anti-aging or protecting effects and quote the
example of a large trial in which it was found that selegiline may
actually increase the death rate.
All of these are theoretical arguments
based on the interpretation of statistics from trials. There are,
however, some people who do take preventative selegiline, particularly
those with close family members who suffered from Parkinson's disease
and who want to avoid developing it themselves. Time will show whether
they are right.
New technological gadgets are also
being used in controlling the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Implantable and
adjustable devices can be used to control the tremor of Parkinson's
almost at will, and also to reduce shakiness due to other causes, for
example due to essential tremor. Transplants of small chunks of brain
tissue have also been used, with variable success.
A non-traditional treatment of
Parkinson's disease used by a small minority of doctors is this regime:
1) Use a combination of Q10,
glutathione and riboflavin supplements to reduce free radical damage
inside the brain cells. (Glutathione concentration has been found to be
low in the brain of Parkinson's disease sufferers, so taking supplements
is believed by some doctors to help reverse the damage.)
2) Add deferoxamine supplements to
reduce iron in the blood. (Deferoxamine binds to iron and neutralizes
it. Too much iron causes an excess of free radicals.)
3) Use selegiline and SAMe for
Parkinson's disease, in fact any
degenerative disease, can cause very distressing symptoms and modern
medicine is unable to offer treatments which work 100%. As long as this
continues to be the case, there will always be Parkinson's disease patients desperate to try
anything to free themselves from the shackles of decay. We hope that
unscrupulous practitioners not take advantage of this.
Complementary practitioners support the
- acupuncture to help with the blood
circulation and to balance the body energy
- the long-term use of reflexology
- flower remedies such as poison
hemlock to strengthen the nervous system
- massage and exercises to stimulate
the nerves and muscles
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