Parkinson’s Disease Part 1

About two years ago, a new patient arrived at the office for an appointment.  She had just been released from the hospital where she had a psychiatric workup for extreme anxiety and depression.  Ten days later she emerged with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and was on at least ten medications.  Her personality seemed flat which was attributed to the large number of mood altering medications.  Get off all the drugs was her goal once whe was healthy.

Medical records were sent for and a workup was initiated to evaluate her nutritionally and for environmental toxicity and heavy metal body burden.  Good initial results followed with treatment, especially when she was started on a supplement rich in Rhodiola Rosea root extract in high concentration of rosavins.   While the patient stated she felt much better, it was noted that her gait was guarded, she shuffled and was afraid of falling.  Her flat affect did not improve.  A visit to the neurologist confirmed the suspicion of Parkinson’s Disease and her medications were changed immediately.  Later she confessed it was a relief to have a correct diagnosis and seemed to relieve some of the anxiety.  This patient chose to not pursue environmental medicine and returned to conventional medicine. 

Another patient was incorrectly diagnosed as not having Parkinson’s, was not on the proper medications, and had hours and days of not being functional.  We sent him for another opinion.  While he is not textbook, the neurologist agreed that he did indeed have Parkinson’s and was more advanced than if he had been treated aggressively by early intervention.  A change in medications helped initially.  This patient decided based on his personal environmental history, that he wanted to continue nutritional therapy which helped in some ways more than the medications, especially the anxiety.  He also wanted to address detoxification because of his exposure to chemicals.  His neurologist agreed.  In his neurotransmitter profile, dopamine levels appeared normal in a urine sample but which does not necessarily correlate with what is in the brain.  His cortisol levels were extremely elevated day and night.  He benefited from the supplement that contained the rosavins but needed something more for anxiety.  We used Phosphatidylserine to reduce the cortisol levels.

Early diagnosis is very important in the Parkinson’s patient.  By the time the first symptom appears, the dopamine level in the brain has been reduced by 80%.  Dopamine functions in feelings of pleasure, integration of thoughts and feelings, attachment, love and the unselfish concern for the welfare of others.  Symptoms of dopamine deficiency are associated with lack of enjoyment, brain fatigue, confusion and lethargy.  That which was once fun loses its flavor.  Certain nutritional supplements are required for healthy function even with a healthy individual including tyrosine and certain B vitamins which are necessary cofactors.  The amino acid theanine can help by improving mental performance, calm nervous agitation, and lower blood pressure. 

In the future, stem cell transplants may be an option.  Tiantan Puhua, Beijing does transplants that reduce shaking, muscle tension disappeared, strength improved and movement became more fluid (1).  Until then, early diagnosis, environmental evaluation, proper nutrition and additional specific nutritional supplements reflect the approach we suggest with our patients.  Therapy may include detoxifiation with chelation.

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