Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system.
It causes tremors (especially in the hands) and rigidity (especially in the
face). The disease affects men and women equally, primarily after age 60.
However, approximately 10 percent of those with the disease are under age 40.
Although no cure for the disease is available at this time, drug therapy can
help alleviate the symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
Stiffness and rigid limbs
Extremely slow movement
Involuntary eye closure
Secondary symptoms may include the following.
Speech, breathing, swallowing problems
What Causes It?
Parkinson's disease is caused by the loss of brain cells that produce the
neurotransmitter (brain chemical) dopamine, which affects muscle activity. The
brain's inability to produce enough of these cells may be due to environmental
factors (such as toxins or viruses), heredity, certain other brain chemicals,
the aging process, and heroin use.
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Since no test can positively identify Parkinson's, your provider will rely
largely on interviews with you and your family. He or she may order brain scans
to measure dopamine activity. Genetic testing may help identify a specific
illness (like Huntington's disease) linked to the disease.
Several drugs treat the symptoms of Parkinson's, but they do not cure the
disease. It is quite common for your provider to change medications and adjust
dosages. Certain drugs used for the treatment of other diseases, especially
glaucoma, heart disease, and high blood pressure, can influence the treatment of
Psychotherapy can help you cope with associated conditions such as
depression. Speech, physical, and occupational therapy may
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies may provide some relief of symptoms and slow the
progression of the disease.
Essential fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. A mix of omega-6
(evening primrose, black currant, borage, pumpkin seed) and omega-3 (flaxseed
and fish oils) may be best (2 tbsp. oil per day or 1,000 to 1,500 mg twice a
Antioxidants vitamin C (1,000 mg three times a day), vitamin E (400
to 800 IU per day), and the trace mineral selenium (200 mcg) may slow
progression of Parkinson's. Other antioxidants are alpha-lipoic acid, grape seed
extract, and pycnogenol.
A vitamin B complex is helpful.
Vitamin B6 (10 to 100 mg per day) may help with symptom control, but
should be given with zinc (30 mg per day).
Manganese: excessive exposure increases the risk of
Amino acids: Low-protein diets may help control tremors. However,
D-tyrosine (100 mg per kg per day) increases dopamine turnover.
Glutathione: antioxidant (200 mg twice a day).
Choline increases brain function; various forms include lecithin,
phosphatidylcholine, and DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol).
Neurotransmitters made from amino acids such as glutamic acid and
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) are used for
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites
(glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise
indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep
covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots.
Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica): historic use in Parkinson's.
One cup tea twice a day, or 30 to 60 drops tincture twice a day
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba): circulatory stimulant and an
antioxidant (as a supplement 120 mg per day)
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna): circulatory stimulant,
antioxidant (2 to 5 g per day)
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), globe artichoke (Cynara
scolymus), and Bupleurum species provide liver support
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum), skullcap
(Scutellaria lateriflora), oats (Avena sativa), and lemon balm
(Melissa officinalis) help support the structure of the nervous
Usually, the dose is 3 to 5 pellets of a 12X to 30C remedy every one to four
hours until your symptoms get better.
Argentum nitricum for ataxia (loss of muscle coordination),
trembling, awkwardness, painless paralysis
Causticum for Parkinson's with restless legs at night,
Mercurius vivus for Parkinson's that is worse at night,
especially with panic attacks
Plumbum metallicum especially with arteriosclerosis
Zincum metallicum for great restlessness, and
May help with increasing circulation and decreasing muscle
Chelation therapy may be effective if the Parkinson's is due to heavy metal
toxicity or environmental toxins.
May be helpful, particularly for the tremor
Since Parkinson's disease advances with time, you will need to be under
constant medical care. Drug treatments often become less effective over time,
and you must keep a close eye on your symptoms.
Exercise will also help you improve mobility.
Bartram T. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Dorset, England: Grace
Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic
Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, Mass: Integrative Medicine
Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Isselbacher KJ, et al., eds. Harrison's Principles
of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1998.
Morrison R. Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms.
Albany, Calif: Hahnemann Clinic Publishing; 1993:32-33, 111-113, 244-247,
National Institutes of Health. Accessed at
on January 16, 1999.
Parkinson's Disease Foundation. Accessed at
http://www.pdf.org/ on January 16, 1999.
Perry TL, Godin DV, Dansen S. Parkinson's disease: a disorder due to nigral
glutathione deficiency. Neurosci Lett. 1982;33:305-310.
Werbach M. Nutritional Influences on Illness. New Canaan, Conn: Keats
Review Date: August 1999
Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Peter Hinderberger, MD, PhD,
Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center, Baltimore, MD; Leonard Wisneski, MD,
FACP, George Washington University, Rockville, MD; Tom Wolfe, P.AHG, Smile Herb
Shop, College Park, MD; Terry Yochum, DC, Rocky Mountain Chiropractic Center,
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