Parkinson’s Disease: What You Need to Know

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177363190Parkinson’s disease is an involuntary movement disorder which causes uncontrolled and unwanted movements of the body but can also cause a marked degree of body rigidity with total loss of movement capability. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder which affects speech, facial expressions, physical movements, and frequently causes tremors of the hands. As the disease progresses, the body movements become more rigid, slower, and there are few facial expressions or normal bodily movements seen. Parkinson’s disease is also frequently associated with cognitive decline, dementia, mood disorder, and pre-mature mortality.

The disease primarily targets the nervous system with the actual pathology being rather disputed at this point. At one time, the theory was that people who displayed Parkinson’s disease had a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine in a certain area of the brain known as the substantia nigra. Now, it seems that groups of particles within areas of the brain known as lewy bodies are the key behind the abnormal brain function associated with Parkinson’s disease. Proteins contained within the lewy bodies called A-synuclein are also possibly implicated in the disease process.

Parkinson’s disease is associated with aging as those who are older have a greater risk of developing the disorder. The treatments for Parkinson’s disease can vary depending upon the symptoms and the stage of progression.

The usual treatment approach is to provide the drug Carbidopa/Levodopa which greatly improves the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Additional drugs can be provided which act to increase levels of dopamine in the brain. Other drugs can be used to treat the tremors, emotional symptoms, and cognitive impairments. Treatments consisting of physical therapy, exercise, and activities to improve balance like yoga and tai chi can be very valuable.

A therapeutic technique referred to as mental practice can also be utilized to improve walking, gait, grasping movements, and ambulation. This therapy, combined with other forms of physical and cognitive therapies, may be quite a helpful strategy in addition to medications.

Nutritional strategies to manage Parkinson’s disease are designed to manage free radical production, excessive inflammation, and the decline of brain cell mitochondrial function. Three supplements may be quite important in the management of Parkinson’s disease.

Fish oil with its high concentration of omega-3 fats can positively influence brain levels of inflammation. Coenzyme Q10 has a potent antioxidant influence upon neural tissue and can improve mitochondrial function. Other nutrients like creatine and vitamin D may also play a supportive role in the management of Parkinson’s disease.

A diet which is high in fiber, fish, fruit, vegetables, olive oil, garlic, turmeric, and legumes is also recommended to improve bowel motility, decrease inflammation, fight free radicals, and enhance nutrient density in the diet.

Source(s) for Today’s Article:
“Parkinson’s Disease,” Mayo Clinic web site;

Prizer, L.P., et al., “The integrative care of Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review,” J Parkinsons Dis 2012; 2(2): 79-86.
Tomlinson, C.L., et al., “Physiotherapy versus placebo or no intervention in Parkinson’s disease,” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. August 15, 2012;  8:CD002817.
Kones, R., “Parkinson’s disease: mitochondrial molecular pathology, inflammation, statins, and therapeutic neuroprotective nutrition,” Nutr Clin Pract. August 2010; 25(4): 371-89.

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Dr. K.J. McLaughlin, BPE, CSCS, MASc. DC

About the Author, Browse K.J.'s Articles

Dr. K.J.McLaughlin is a chiropractor with 27 years of clinical experience. In addition, he has degrees in physical education, nutrition and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with an interest in anti-aging medicine. He has also spent time studying health promotion and the effect that health education has upon health outcomes. Dr. McLaughlin has a diverse professional background which has involved clinical management, teaching, health promotion and health coaching and brings a unique passion to his work.