Parkinson's Disease

Parkinsons Disease

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 disease get 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 talking
  • depression
  • 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 disease 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 all-round protection.

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 use of:

  • 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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