New hope for Parkinson’s

All symptoms of PD are profoundly related to runaway brain inflammation. Continued inflammation means continuing brain damage and worsening disability.

by Dr. Hayle T. Aldren — 

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) in high-profile celebrities, like Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali, has raised awareness that this debilitating, neuro-degenerative disease is second only to Alzheimer’s in occurrence and can affect relatively young people. But most are still unaware that new research shows how natural treatments can favorably influence the course of this disease and enhance its response to regular treatment.

Despite the typical picture of an elderly person trembling, bent over and shuffling, another surprise is that PD can often present in more subtle ways and may be difficult to diagnose in early stages. Although tremor, stiffness and trouble walking or using the hands eventually develop in the absence of protection against brain inflammation, PD patients also suffer from dementia, depression, dizziness and low blood pressure, impulsiveness, sleep disturbances, crippling fatigue, stomach and intestinal paralysis, loss of taste and smell, incontinence, sweats and drooling, chronic pain and weight changes.

Drugs like L-DOPA are a mainstay in treatment but are often under-dosed or held back in favor of alternative drugs, in order not to prematurely waste L-DOPA’s useful treatment lifespan. While medications have enabled many PD patients to preserve muscle function for a time and prolong their independence in daily life, these drugs eventually wear off or begin to produce side effects of their own, including movement disorders like dyskinesia. Add-on drugs can sometimes slow the disease for a while, when the primary medicines start to wear off.

Medical alternatives, including brain surgery or gamma knife (focused radiation), are intended to help control unwanted movements by permanently destroying certain parts of the brain, but unfortunately these measures do nothing to stop progressive disability in many aspects of the disease unrelated to movement.

All symptoms of PD are profoundly related to runaway brain inflammation. Continued inflammation means continuing brain damage and worsening disability, and researchers are looking for “neuro-protective agents” that can address the underlying basis of PD by stopping brain inflammation.

Such neuro-protective agents might stop or slow PD in its early stages and help medications work better and longer, with fewer side effects in more advanced cases.

Research is being done on co-enzyme Q-10, vitamin D, stem cells and avoidance of excitotoxins (which, unbelievably, can even be present in some vitamins and nutritional supplements). It was discovered that certain bioflavonoids are neuro-protective in the test tube, but assimilating and getting them into the patient’s brain was difficult. However, a new method of delivering these bioflavonoids to the brain has been patented, and practical neuro-protection is now a real possibility.

PD is also, in part, caused by an imbalance in the immune system within the brain, which may explain why people with certain kinds of allergies seem more prone to get PD. Brain uptake of selected bioflavonoids is also a promising way to restore balance to the parts of the brain that regulate the immune system and may have application to autoimmune disorders, cancer, diabetes, obesity, ALS, autism and Alzheimer’s.

Evidence now shows that some of the postural and movement complications of PD, which were previously believed to be unavoidable and irreversible, might actually be secondary to muscle imbalances that take hold unconsciously after PD brain damage. The Alexander Technique (AT), a method of psycho-physical re-education, has been shown to relieve some of these symptoms, and neurologists can refer to Alexander teachers as a complement to medication and surgery.

Other physical methods under investigation include vestibular therapy, sensory-motor stimulation, PNF facial stretching, myofascial therapy, and seated or standing rebounding. Exercise slows down the progression of PD, and even activities such as tango dancing have been shown to improve balance and reduce the risk of falling in PD patients.

PD clinical studies involving novel anti-inflammatory bioflavonoid concentrates, related nutritional support and physical methods (e.g., AT) are now being conducted, and patients are accepted from both physician and self-referrals.

Good candidates include those in the early years of PD, patients whose medications are starting to wear off or produce side effects, or those who have undergone unsuccessful neurosurgery or stereotactic radiosurgery. Patients diagnosed with Essential Tremor (ET) syndrome, the most common movement disorder, which studies suggest may mean four times the risk of developing into PD, can also be considered.

In the Phoenix area, Advanced Therapeutics is participating in this research. In some cases, screening can be done over the telephone or via the Internet. Certain participants may be eligible for products or services at reduced or waived fees and will not be required to stop existing treatments.

Following are some interesting facts about Parkinson’s disease :

  • Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects both voluntary and involuntary movement. There is no cure at present; however, various treatment options can offer temporary relief from symptoms.
  • Parkinson’s disease is second only to Alzheimer’s as a degenerative neurological disorder.
  • More than 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from Parkinson’s disease. A new case is diagnosed every nine minutes.
  • Medications to treat Parkinson’s disease can cost a patient between $1,000 and $7,000 per year.
  • In the U.S., Parkinson’s disease costs about $25 billion each year. Source: National Parkinson’s Alliance

 

Hayle T. Aldren, M.D., M.D.(H), is a consultant in anti-aging medicine, nutrition, integrative cancer therapy, weight control and stem cell applications. He consults with Advanced Therapeutics and has been involved in integrative treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases for over 30 years. 480-991-1769.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 4, Aug/Sept 2010.

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