Nutrition. Education. Transformation.

How Nutrition Can Help Parkinson’s Disease

October 17, 2011

The British physician James Parkinson reported in a publication in 1817 the clinical symptomatology in “shaking palsy.” The name of this disorder today is Parkinson’s disease (PD). About 1.5 million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a neurological ailment that causes tremors, stiff or frozen limbs, slow movement, and impaired balance. This degenerative disease is correlated with a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine, manifesting in decreased mobility, energy and cognitive function.

Symptoms Parkinson’s Disease

  • Tremor is the most characteristic and often the first symptom in Parkinson’s Disease
  • Hypokinesia
  • Rigidity
  • In some cases, dementia

Possible Causes

Vitamin D deficiency is potentially a major cause of PD. Scientists reviewed a 1997 case report in which a patient with Parkinson’s disease steadily improved when treated with 4,000 IU daily.1  One 30-year study of 3,000 people, led by Dr. Paul Knekt of The National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, revealed a three-fold higher risk of developing Parkinson’s in those with low blood levels of vitamin D. 2 A separate investigation found that low vitamin D intake was associated with a 60 per cent greater chance of suffering seriously impaired mental faculties later in life. Both studies, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, add to mounting evidence of the vitamin’s importance to the proper functioning of the human brain.

Pesticide exposure. According to a recent Agricultural Health study, which assessed a lifetime use of pesticides– Rotenone and Paraquat — concluded that PD was positively associated (risk 2-5 times greater than those not exposed) with these two groups of pesticides, which impaired mitochondrial functions and increases oxidative stress.3 Previous animal studies also have linked these two pesticides with PD.

Paraquat is a quaternary ammonium herbicide. Other members of this class include:

Heavy metal exposure. A growing body of evidence suggests that heavy metal cations stimulate free radical formation in the brain and can lead to neurodegeneration. Several epidemiologic studies have suggested an association between Parkinson’s disease (PD) and exposure to heavy metals such as lead.4

  • Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan studied Parkinson’s disease with respect to heavy metal exposure. They calculated mortality rates for Parkinson’s disease in Michigan counties for 1986-1988 with respect to potential heavy metal exposure (iron, zinc, copper, mercury, magnesium, and manganese) from industry based on recent census data. The death rates were statistically significantly higher in counties with an industry in the chemical, paper, iron or copper related-industrial categories than counties without these industries. The authors concluded: “These ecologic findings suggest a geographic association between PD mortality and the industrial use of heavy metals.”3
  • A study by researchers in Singapore tested the hypothesis that a high level of body burden mercury is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. They listed the following factors that could contribute to the body burden of mercury: dietary fish intake, ethnic over-the-counter medications, occupational exposures and dental amalgam fillings. In 54 cases of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease and 95 hospital-based controls, detailed interviews were completed. The researchers found that there was a clear monotonic dose-response association between blood mercury levels and Parkinson’s disease between blood mercury levels and incidence of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Dental amalgams are a predominant source of inorganic mercury and mercury vapor in the general population. A direct correlation between the number and surfaces of dental amalgam fillngs and the amount of mercury in the brain has been found. Therefore, no exposure to mercury can be considered totally harmless.5

Excitotoxins. A few of the many chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Dr. James Bowen, neurologist and medical director for the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Washington, says: “Many NutraSweet victims report Parkinsonian symptoms. This should be no surprise because every biochemical component of the aspartame molecule is implicated in producing Parkinsonian structural damage and creating a biochemical basis for PD symptoms.”

Aspartame, he points out, is a source of methyl alcohol. Methyl alcohol is the component of beverage alcohol that causes neurodegenerative disease in PD in alcoholics. Beverage alcohol is grain alcohol or ethyl alcohol. However, methyl alcohol is present only in trace amounts in alcoholic beverages. Ethyl alcohol serves as a protective factor against methyl alcohol to some degree, but aspartame “has no such protection and the structural components of the molecule are so arranged that the methyl alcohol from aspartame is probably 500 to 5000 times more active in producing toxicity than it would be alone.” In addition, the metabolic impact of the phenylalanine isolate from aspartame is to remarkably decrease dopamine production, thus making PD symptoms much worse. If you will recall, Michael J. Fox was once a spokesperson for, and reportedly a heavy drinker of, a popular diet soda. It is something to think about.

Amphetamine Consumption. Neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D., author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, also reports on the research of the effects of amphetamines on the nervous system, specifically on the similarity of the destruction of the same neurons as with Parkinson’s disease and in the same manner (overworking the neurons to death). He notes that the ingestion of amphetamines and even the Parkinson’s drug L-DOPA shows how the neurons can be chemically forced “on” until they die. Brand names of medications that contain or metabolize into amphetamines include: Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Desoxyn, ProCentra and Vyvanse.

Dietary Plan

We treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s with lots of “brain food.”  In addition, we want to cleanse the body of pesticides and heavy metals.

Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

 

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), or ketone bodies, are very helpful in protecting neurons and supplying them and other cells with energy when they are unable to obtain it from glucose. Dr. Richard Veech of the National Institute of Health has been on the forefront of ketone bodies and their use. He and his team also found that ketones protect neurons from both MPP+, which induces Parkinson’s disease, and the protein fragment Ab1-42, which accumulates in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. Coconut oil is made up of approximately 65% MCTs. It also contains omega 6 fatty acids and has no cholesterol. We recommend 1-3 Tbsp. per day, either eaten plain, in a smoothie, hot cereal or spread on toast.

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega

 

Highly important for enhancing brain function. These can be also be obtained from wild-caught salmon, pastured meats, and eggs.

Certain foods are wonderful for cleansing the body of toxins and heavy metals. We recommend (organic) apples, onions, garlic, cilantro, miso and Kombucha.

Foods to Avoid

Excitotoxins.  Dr. John Olney founded the field of neuroscience called excitotoxicity. He did studies on aspartic acid, 40% of aspartame, and found it caused lesions in the brains of mice. It is an excitotoxin. Neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D., wrote the book on it, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. He discusses PD in great detail.

Dr. Blaylock gives several points on the disease. He says, “Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder whose cause appears from substantial evidence, to be related to excitotoxicity. These toxins destroy the cells in the brain central to this disease. Excitotoxins cause these brain cells to generate enormous amounts of free radicals. This is true of MSG and aspartic acid (aspartame- see information above).There is substantial circumstantial evidence that dietary excitotoxins, including aspartame, can aggravate these destructive changes in the Parkinson’s brain.”

  • ASPARTAME: Includes diet sodas and many other diet products
  • MSG. Dr. Blaylock notes several common food additives which are hidden sources of MSG. These include: Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Hydrolyzed Protein, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein, Autolyzed Yeast and Hydrolyzed Oat Flour. Some food additives that may have MSG include: Malt Extract, Malt Flavoring, Bouillon, Broth, Stock, Flavoring, Natural Flavoring, Natural Beef or Chicken Flavorings and seasoning.
  • As with all other diet plans, avoid transfats.Also avoid products which may contain heavy metals such as commercial muscle building protein powders (which also can contain Nutrasweet!). Try to minimize consumption of non-organic produce and meats, which have chemicals that might exacerbate PD,  and stay away from farm-raised fish.

To see a diagram of how exncitoxcity is leading to Parkinson’s disease, see this diagram at Nutrition Genome.

Supplement Plan

L-Dopa is sometimes given to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s. However, some complex conditions in the brain that might cause a dopamine deficiency in the first place can prevent this from working. Dopamine is degraded by an enzyme called monoamine oxidase type B. Liquid deprenyl citrate (LDC), also known as selegiline, works by specifically inhibiting this enzyme from destroying the brain’s dopamine. Research by C.W. Olanow, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, has shown that liquid deprenyl had favorable results in Parkinson’s disease, compared with L-dopa, which is known to have adverse side effects. In fact, some patients found that liquid deprenyl was the only thing that, in the words of many, “gave them back their lives.” LDC’s components are extracted from natural sources and therefore the compound is classified as a botanical nutritional supplement, as defined by the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA). Unfortunately, the FDA has currently made this product unavailable to consumers.

What can one do to help shield the brain from this type of neural damage? What are the best supplements to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s? We recommend the following:

 

1. C-Salts Buffered Vitamin C

2. Magnesium Citramate and Zinc Picolinate

 

You will see from the Nutrition Genome diagram that magnesium and zinc play a major role in preventing excitatory effects. Intake have also been shown to slow the progress of neurological diseases.

3. B-complex Plus

Vitamin B6 might influence the risk of PD through antioxidant effects and through its role in dopamine synthesis. Avoid if taking L-Dopa.

4. Liver DTX

Important for cleansing the liver.

*Men and post-menopausal women should avoid iron supplements. In cases of PD, avoiding iron supplements for each gender and age is recommended.

Sources

1. Movement Disorders January 17, Volume 22, Issue 4, pages 461–468,15 March 2007.

2.National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.

3. Alternative Medicine Review, Sept. 2011, Volume 16, No. 3, p.226 Rotenone, Paraquat and Parkinson’s DiseaseTanner CM, Kamel F. Ross, GW, et al. Environ Health Perspect 2011, 119:866-872.

4.2ttp://www.associatedcontent.com/article/424114/lead_and_heavy_metal_exposure_may_increase_pg2.html?cat=70

5. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 10, No. 3 & 4, 1995 p. 148.

6. Rybicki BA, Johnson CC, Uman J, Gorell JM: Parkinson’s disease mortality and the industrial use of heavy metals in Michigan. Mov Disord 8: 87-92, 1993.

7. Ngim CH, Devathasan G: Epidemiologic study on the association between body burden mercury level and idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. Neuroepidemiology 8: 128-41, 1989.

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