by Kimberly Allen R.N.
Despite the advances in medicine and the improvement in medications many people with chronic diseases like Parkinson’s disease are seeking alternative treatments to relieve their symptoms. People with Parkinson’s disease frequently complain about the side efects of the medications currently used to treat the symptoms of PD and look for other options.
What scientists know about PD is that the cells in the area of the brain known as the Substantia Nigra that produces dopamine slowly die off, but they don’t know why they die. With less and less dopamine being produced to carry messages to the muscles so the muscles are just sitting there not moving and wasting away. Dopamine is also the chemical that is responsible for making us feel good and have a positive outlook. For this reason many believe that some of the natural treatments used for treatment of depression will also benefit people suffedring with the symptoms of PD. St. John’s wort is an herb that contains hypericin which is known to successfully treat depression as well as insomnia. St. Jon’s wort can be used as either a tea, tincture or in capsule form. Another chemical that can increase the levels of dopamine is levodopa or “L-dopa”. Fava beans and velvet beans both contain L-dopa and have been shown to be beneficial in relieving the symptoms of PD. Passion flower is an herb that contains hamaline alkaloids which increase the levels of dopamine in the brain. CoQ10 is a nutrient that helps protect the “dopaminergic” neurons from the toxins and free radicals as well as increases the energy production in the cells.
Another thing that scientists know is that antioxidants can slow the progression of PD. Antioxidants re found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables carrots, and fruits and berries. They even have antioxidants in pill form. Ginko Biloba is one of the most popular and well known herbs in the world that is also an antioxidant. Ginko Biloba is well known for it’s many benefits to our bodies. One of the things it does is improve the blood supply and oxygen to the brain which helps improve the loss of cognitive function in PD. Glutathione is a natural occurring chemical in our brain that helps maintain the antioxidant system. Including foods that contain glutathione like fruits and vegetables in your diet can also help slow the progression of PD. Noni juice has all the antioxidants as well as the trace minerals needed to produce glutathione and in abundant supply.
There has also been research that shows acupuncture can improve the symptoms of aPD as well lower depression and insomnia. Tai Chi has also been beneficial in improving movement and a sense of well being in some people with PD>
Regular exercise can help in many ways. Exercise increases the production of the chemicals in the brain like serotonin and others that are part of our antioxidant system.
Though there have been a few studies done using alternative treatments they have all been small with varying results many believe these methods improved the symptoms and quality of life for many PD sufferers.
The most important thing to remember when considering alternative treatments is to never stop your current conventional treatments, especially without talking to your Dr. Thoroughly research any treatment you are considering and always discuss the treatment with your Dr before trying anything new.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.