Early symptoms of Parkinson’s include a sensation of stiffness and weakness in the limbs, often accompanied by a slight trembling of the hand while it is resting.
Q. My husband has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and we are willing to do whatever we can. Any information you could provide would be much appreciated.
A. Slightly more common in men than women, this condition affects around one in every 100 individuals over the age of 65.
It is not passed from one generation to the next.
Early symptoms typically include a sensation of stiffness and weakness in the limbs, often accompanied by a slight trembling of the hand while it is resting.
On a cellular level, the cells responsible for producing dopamine —which governs muscle activity — begin to degenerate, resulting in a drop in dopamine levels which then triggers an imbalance of other transmitters, such as acetylcholine.
Environmental exposure to pesticides or toxins is thought to be of significant concern in relation to Parkinson’s disease, which is why foods such as fruit, vegetables, seaweeds, fresh vegetable juice, sprouted grains, spelt, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are usually recommended as part of dietary therapy — all preferably organic.
Avoiding processed foods, coffee, tea, artificial sweeteners, sugar, tobacco and alcohol is strongly encouraged since they are over-stimulating to an already stressed nervous system.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), found in bananas, beef, fish, liver, oatmeal, peanuts, potatoes, and whole grains, interferes with the action of Parkinson’s medication (usually called Levadopa or L-Dopa), so he may need to reduce his intake of these foods.
Broad beans, however, are a natural source of levadopa (half a cup contains around 250mg — equivalent to one L-Dopa pill).
Your husband will, of course, need to discuss any dietary changes or supplementation with his doctor.
Constipation is a common side-effect, but your husband should steer clear of bran as a solution to this problem since it is high in vitamin B6.
Prune juice and psyllium hulls are preferable as a natural solution. He should also drink plenty of pure water, around two litres daily, to help flush toxins and maximise nutrient absorption.
Hot spices are to be avoided, since they can trigger uncontrollable physical movements in some individuals.
High meat consumption aggravates the symptoms, and inhibits the uptake of vitamin B6, so a dietary ratio of 7:1 (carbohydrates:proteins) is usually advised.
The following supplements are believed to help with symptoms and side-effects of Parkinson’s:
* Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter, works by strengthening and relaxing the nervous system. Take 500mg, three times daily for three months.
* Calcium and magnesium are necessary for the nervous system — any supplement you choose should contain 500mg of calcium and 250mg of magnesium. Take twice daily.
* Green superfood supplements supply chlorophyll and essential trace minerals. Choose one that contains chlorella as this will bind to heavy metals and toxins so that they can be safely excreted. NAC (N-Acetyl-cysteine; 500mg, 2 x daily) is recommended if you know that heavy metal toxicity is a problem.
* Evening primrose oil contains valuable essential fatty acids, often deficient in those with Parkinson’s. Take 500-1000mg twice daily.
* The enzyme NADH (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydrogen) helps to improve neurotransmitter function. Take 25mg twice daily. Phophatidylserine is a lipid with similar properties — low levels of which are associated with the onset of Parkinson’s. Take 50mg, three times daily.
* Vitamin C. Ensure it is combined with bioflavanoids and begin with 1000mg, three times daily for a month, then increase gradually. n For support log onto parkinsons.ie or phone 1800 359 359.
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