Natural Solutions to Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common degenerative disorder of the central nervous system after Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that 1% of individuals over the age of 65 are diagnosed with this disorder (1, 2). Natural lifestyle interventions can prevent and reverse Parkinson’s disease.
This once rare disease has seen enormous growth over the last 30 years. In 2005, there were an estimated 4.1 million people worldwide with Parkinson’s disease. In 25 years, that number is predicted to climb to 8.7 million. As a country we spend over 23 billion dollars each year on Parkinson’s treatments
The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s include movement related disorders such as shaking, rigidity, difficulty walking and slowness of movement. As the disease progresses it leads to cognitive and behavioral problems such as dementia, insomnia and irritability.
The individuals often have pain and slurred speech. They also take on a stooped posture as their brain atrophy’s. It is an incredible burden for someone watch a loved one go through the progression of Parkinson’s disease. The goal of this article is to help you take back control of your health and your family’s health before it is too late.
The Neuro Degenerative Process:
Parkinson’s particularly affects a region of the basal ganglia called the substantia nigra. The basal ganglia are a group of brain structures that utilize dopamine as their primary neurotransmitter.
Neuronal loss in these regions is associated brain cell inflammation and the formation of cross-linked proteins called Lewy bodies in the remaining nerve cells. Lewy bodies are protein aggregates that form and block normal cellular activity (3, 4).
Type II Diabetes and Parkinson’s Risk
Researchers in Finland have found that individuals with type II diabetes have an 83% greater risk of developing Parkinson’s (5). In the study, researchers followed a group of more than 50,000 men and women in Finland over a period of 18 years. During that time, 324 men and 309 women developed Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers found people who had type II diabetes at the start of the study were much more likely to be later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. A later Denmark study confirmed the findings of this Finland study in that individuals with type II diabetes are at a higher risk of Parkinson’s development (6).
Elevated Blood Sugar and Brain Health:
Elevated blood sugar is known to link with protein structures in a process called glycation. This reaction of reducing sugars connecting to amino acids creates advanced glycolytic enzymes (AGE’s). AGE’s are especially dangerous and create massive amounts of free radicals (7).
AGE damage in the basal ganglia region is associated with Lewy body formation. These structures are created and aggregate in the basal ganglia due to excessive oxidative stress within the sensitive neuronal tissues (8).
Pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease:
Many of these products kill weeds and bugs by affecting protein chemistry within the organism. This seems to clearly have deleterious effects on humans as well. The greatest potential sources of exposure include crop spraying, weed killers, pesticides and insecticides used in the garden and fly sprays and ant powders used in the home.
Most people spray these things in their home without even thinking twice. Additionally, these toxic chemicals are often found in non-organic fruits and vegetables. It is key to minimize your exposure to these chemicals.
Every cell of the body has mitochondria within it that produce energy for the cell. The mitochondria are the battery packs of the cell and they are extremely important. High levels of oxidative stress wear down the mitochondria and cause a dysfunctional state. Studies have found that individuals with Parkinson’s disease have an advanced state of mitochondrial dysfunction (13, 14, 15).
Individuals suffering from Parkinson’s are evidenced to have massive cell death of the dopamine producing cells in key areas of the basal ganglia such as the substantia nigra. Research has shown that this is initiated by a profound glutathione (GSH) decrease and a mitochondrial dysfunction.
Glutathione Depletion and Nrf2:
Basically the cells are under so much stress that there main protective shield (GSH) gets worn down and oxidative stress damages the mitochondria and the DNA leading to cell death. Poor blood sugar control and high environmental toxin exposure are known to deplete glutathione levels and impair mitochondrial function (16).
A key pathway that maintains cellular glutathione levels and the ability of the cell to adapt to stress is called Keap1-Nrf2. When this pathway breaks down it causes increased levels of oxidative stress within the cell that leads to the glutathione depletion and mitochondrial dysfunction (17).
This pathway must be addressed in order to prevent or reverse Parkinson’s symptoms (18).
Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Plan:
The key to preventing and reversing Parkinson’s disease is to begin with an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. This includes lots of clean water and phytonutrient rich raw and lightly cooked vegetables.
Good fats such as avocados, olive oil, nuts/seeds and coconut products should be strongly encouraged. Healthy animal products such as grass-fed beef, bison, lamb, antelope, deer and free-range chicken, turkey and eggs should be used generously.
Reduce Sugar and Maximize Nutrients:
Sugar and food sources that metabolize into sugar such as grains and fruits should be used minimally. Anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, and rosemary among others should be used at every possible chance.
High quality omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for stabilizing neuronal cell membranes. Research has indicated that low omega 3 status causes accelerated neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra and increases the risk of Parkinson’s development (19, 20)
Boost Intracellular Anti-Oxidants:
It is very important for individuals who are suffering from Parkinsons or are susceptible to the disease to boost intracellular glutathione levels. Glutathione (GSH) is a very special peptide molecule that provides the greatest anti-oxidant protection and recharges other anti-oxidants within the body (23, 24).
Glutathione helps the cells eliminate wastes from the intracellular environment and into the bloodstream. In order to prevent retoxification it is essential to use a binding agent such as activated charcoal.
Research has found that activated charcoal is a very effective way to remove pesticidal and herbicidal chemicals and other organic toxins from the body (25) I use Activated Charcoal with my Parkinson’s clients to reduce the toxic load.
L-Dopa and Nuerotransmitter Problems:
L-dopa is the most commonly prescribed medication to treat Parkinson’s disease. Individuals with Parkinson’s have low dopamine production in the substantia nigra. L-dopa is a synthetic form of dopamine. It often gives some symptomatic benefits for a short period of time, however, it never addresses the underlying oxidative stress in the brain and the individual never truly gets better.
Unfortunately, L-dopa depletes the body of key nutrients that are precursers to major neurotransmitters in the brain. This includes L-tryptophan, L-tyrosine, serotonin and sulfur compounds which are needed to produce glutathione (26, 27, 28, 29). This causes further neurological problems and is responsible for many of the mood disorders that are common side effects of L-dopa medication usage.
Additionally, nausea is a very common side effect of L-dopa. Carbidopa is often prescribed to help with the nausea. This medication depletes vitamin B6 which is commonly low in Parkinson’s patients to begin with. The medications prescribed only cause a long-term worsening of the Parkinson’s disease process (30).
17 Action Steps to Beat Parkinson’s:
Here are the best action steps to get started with on your journey to prevent and/or beat Parkinson’s disease. You should always consult with your physician before stopping or changing medications or taking on new health strategies.
Additionally, you should be working with a functional health practitioner to help guide you through these strategies. This is not an exhaustive list and there are other natural therapeutic strategies that I and functional health practitioners will utilize to help individuals with Parkinson’s.
1) Change Your Diet: Follow an Anti-Inflammatory nutrition plan here and avoid exposure to herbicides and pesticides by choosing organic food as much as possible.
2) Reduce Stress: Find ways to reduce stressful activities and enjoy more peace and calm. Learn to thrive under stress by reading this article here
3) Improve Your Sleep: Sleeping a high quality 8-9 hours each night is key to healing and improving blood flow. Follow the steps in this article to improve your sleep.
4) Power Up Your Nrf2 Pathway: This is the key genetic anti-oxidant pathway. Adding in clinical dosages of resveratrol, curcumin, sulfuraphane and Green tea (ECGC) can be extraordinarily beneficial. I use Nrf2 Power here to improve this pathway. I always get my chronic hypertensive patients on Nrf2 Power.
5) Include Magnesium & B Vitamin Rich Foods: Magnesium helps to improve blood sugar signaling patterns and protects the blood-brain barrier. The best magnesium and B vitamin rich foods include dark green leafy veggies, grass-fed dairy, raw cacao and pumpkin seeds. You can also do Epsom salt baths to boost your magnesium levels.
6) Focus on Deep Breathing: Improving your posture, seeing a high quality chiropractor and optimizing your breathing patterns is highly recommended. Follow these tips here to improve your breathing patterns.
7) Use Anti-Oxidant Rich Herbs: Add turmeric, ginger, oregano, garlic, basil, thyme and rosemary to as many dishes as possible and drink organic herbal teas on a regular basis.
8) Ground Your Body: In our society we are surrounded by toxic electromagnetic frequency’s (EMF’s). These EMF’s increase stress within our body and alter neurotransmitter function. By going outside daily and walking barefoot on grass, dirt or sand you absorb natural EMF’s from the ground that balance your electrical rhythms. Follow the steps in this article here.
9) Supplement With Omega 3’s: Omega 3 fatty acids and in particular the long chain variety EPA and DHA are critical for stabilizing blood sugar, improving neurogenesis and neurotransmitter production. Consume grass-fed meat, grass-fed butter, wild-caught fish and spirulina to get it in your diet.
It is also advisable to supplement with 2-5 grams daily of EPA/DHA along with 200 mg of GLA. Clinically, I use ProEFA to boost up omega 3’s.
10) Improve Your Mitochondria: The mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of every cell. When someone has a neurodegenerative disorder it is a clinical sign that they have disfunctional activity going on in the mitochondria.
Support your mitochondria with clinical doses of CoQ10, L-carnitine, N-acetyl cysteine and Lipoic acid. The supplement I use with my neurodegenerative clients is Brain Supercharge which has the clinically effective dosages of each of these key nutrients and more.
11) Juice Your Veggies: Juicing is one of the best ways to get high quality anti-oxidants and powerful phytonutrients into your system. Here is my article on Best Juicing strategies.
12) Intermittent Fasting: Going 16 hours between dinner and breakfast is one of the best ways to improve mitochondrial production. Your body improves energy efficiency by increasing and strengthening the mitochondria during periods of fasting. Consume your meals in an 8 hour window such as 11am – 7pm. Read this article for more info on fasting.
13) Optimize Your Vitamin D: Low vitamin D3 is associated with neurological inflammation and neurodegenerative conditions. Be sure to increase your vitamin D through good amounts of regular sun exposure and/or taking a high quality vitamin D3/K2 supplement.
14) Get a Home Water Filtration System: Very important to avoid the chloride, fluoride, pesticides, heavy metals, etc. that are found in tap water. Use a good whole home water filtration system as discussed in this article here
15) Improve Your Gut Motility: Improving bowel movement frequency and consistency is a key detoxification concept. Consuming an anti-inflammatory diet with good fiber sources such as chia seed and flax seed, using bone broths, fermented foods and probiotics will improve bowel motility.
16) Low Intensity Movement: A sedentary lifestyle reduces cerebrospinal fluid flow and can lead to increased oxidative stress in the brain. Throughout the day, get a lot of low-intensity movement such as walking, light cycling, playing, etc. Regular movement will help reduce inflammation in the brain and improve quality of life.
17) Use an Advanced Brain Support Pack: This is designed to get you the key nutrients that are we have already discussed that are necessary for optimal brain function and cognitive processing. These nutrients help the brain to produce the right amount of neurotransmitters and other neurochemicals.
Additionally, these key nutrients have a powerful effect at reducing the inflammatory fires that destroy our brain tissue.
Sources For This Article Include:
- Parkinson’s Disease Dementia Link Here
- Van Den Eeden SK, Tanner CM, Bernstein AL, Fross RD, Leimpeter A, Bloch DA, Nelson LM. Incidence of Parkinson’s disease: variation by age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Jun 1;157(11):1015-22. PMID: 12777365
- Hamani C, Lozano AM. Physiology and pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Jun;991:15-21. PMID: 12846970
- Bergman H, Deuschl G. Pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease: from clinical neurology to basic neuroscience and back. Mov Disord. 2002;17 Suppl 3:S28-40. PMID: 11948753
- Hu G, Jousilahti P, Bidel S, Antikainen R, Tuomilehto J. Type 2 diabetes and the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Diabetes Care. 2007 Apr;30(4):842-7. PMID: 17251276
- Schernhammer E, Hansen J, Rugbjerg K, Wermuth L, Ritz B. Diabetes and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in Denmark. Diabetes Care. 2011 May;34(5):1102-8. PMID: 21411503
- Goldin A, Beckman JA, Schmidt AM, Creager MA. Advanced glycation end products: sparking the development of diabetic vascular injury. Circulation. 2006 Aug 8;114(6):597-605. PMID: 16894049
- Zupancic M, Mahajan A, Handa K. Dementia With Lewy Bodies: Diagnosis and Management for Primary Care Providers. The Primary Care Companion to CNS Disorders. 2011;13(5)
- Hwang O. Role of Oxidative Stress in Parkinson’s Disease. Experimental Neurobiology. 2013;22(1):11-17
- Jenner P. Oxidative stress in Parkinson’s disease. Ann Neurol. 2003;53 Suppl 3:S26-36; discussion S36-8. PMID: 12666096
- Parkinson’s disease and pesticide exposures. Dick FD. Br Med Bull. 2006;79-80:219-31.PMID: 17242039
- Pesticides and Parkinson’s disease – a critical review Link Here
- Winklhofer KF, Haass C. Mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Jan;1802(1):29-44. PMID: 19733240
- Merad-Boudia M, Nicole A, Santiard-Baron D, Saillé C, Ceballos-Picot I. Mitochondrial impairment as an early event in the process of apoptosis induced by glutathione depletion in neuronal cells: relevance to Parkinson’s disease. Biochem Pharmacol. 1998 Sep 1;56(5):645-55. PMID: 9783733
- Burbulla LF, Krebiehl G, Krüger R. Balance is the challenge–the impact of mitochondrial dynamics in Parkinson’s disease. Eur J Clin Invest. 2010 Nov;40(11):1048-60. PMID: 20735469
- Mytilineou C, Kramer BC, Yabut JA. Glutathione depletion and oxidative stress. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2002 Sep;8(6):385-7. PMID: 12217624
- Harvey CJ, Thimmulappa RK, Singh A, et al. Nrf2-regulated glutathione recycling independent of biosynthesis is critical for cell survival during oxidative stress. Free radical biology & medicine. 2009;46(4):443-453.
- Cuadrado A, Moreno-Murciano P, Pedraza-Chaverri J. The transcription factor Nrf2 as a new therapeutic target in Parkinson’s disease. Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2009 Mar;13(3):319-29. PMID: 19236154
- Dyall SC. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015 Apr 21;7:52. PMID: 25954194
- Cardoso HD, dos Santos Junior EF, de Santana DF, Gonçalves-Pimentel C, Angelim MK, Isaac AR, Lagranha CJ, Guedes RC, Beltrão EI, Morya E, Rodrigues MC, Andrade-da-Costa BL. Omega-3 deficiency and neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra: involvement of increased nitric oxide production and reduced BDNF expression. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Jun;1840(6):1902-12. PMID: 24361617
- Knekt P, Kilkkinen A, Rissanen H, Marniemi J, Sääksjärvi K, Heliövaara M. Serum vitamin D and the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Archives of neurology. 2010;67(7):808-811.
- Murakami K, Miyake Y, Sasaki S, Tanaka K, Fukushima W, Kiyohara C, Tsuboi Y, Yamada T, Oeda T, Miki T, Kawamura N, Sakae N, Fukuyama H, Hirota Y, Nagai M; Fukuoka Kinki Parkinson’s Disease Study Group. Dietary intake of folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and riboflavin and risk of Parkinson’s disease: a case-control study in Japan. Br J Nutr. 2010 Sep;104(5):757-64. PMID: 20338075
- Kerksick C, Willoughby D. The Antioxidant Role of Glutathione and N-Acetyl-Cysteine Supplements and Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2005;2(2):38-44.
- Wu G, Fang YZ, Yang S, Lupton JR, Turner ND. Glutathione metabolism and its implications for health. J Nutr. 2004 Mar;134(3):489-92. PMID: 14988435
- Foo KY, Hameed BH. Detoxification of pesticide waste via activated carbon adsorption process. J Hazard Mater. 2010 Mar 15;175(1-3):1-11. PMID: 19879688
- García NH, Berndt TJ, Tyce GM, Knox FG. Chronic oral L-DOPA increases dopamine and decreases serotonin excretions. Am J Physiol. 1999 Nov;277(5 Pt 2):R1476-80. PMID: 10564221
- Borah A, Mohanakumar KP. Long-term L-DOPA treatment causes indiscriminate increase in dopamine levels at the cost of serotonin synthesis in discrete brain regions of rats. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2007 Dec;27(8):985-96. PMID: 17934805
- Effect of chronically administered L-Dopa on Dopa/5HTP decarboxylase and tyrosine and tryptophan hydroxylases in cat brain Link Here
- Sabens EA, Distler AM, Mieyal JJ. Levodopa deactivates enzymes that regulate thiol-disulfide homeostasis and promotes neuronal cell death: implications for therapy of Parkinson’s disease. Biochemistry. 2010 Mar 30;49(12):2715-24. PMID: 20141169
- Hinz M, Stein A, Cole T. The Parkinson’s disease death rate: carbidopa and vitamin B6. Clinical Pharmacology : Advances and Applications. 2014;6:161-169.