“In light of world Parkinson’s Disease day.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a long-term neuro-degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. The neuro-degeneration mainly occurs in neurons that produce a neurotransmitter called dopamine.
The symptoms of PD generally come on slowly over time and worsen as time goes on. The most obvious symptoms of PD are shaking, difficulty standing, reduced facial expression, problems with coordination, difficulty with bodily movements, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. This is because dopamine is an essential neurotransmitter that is important for smooth motor movements.
Dopamine also plays very important roles in mood, cognition, memory, thinking and sleep, which is why other symptoms include depression, anxiety, sleep issues and dementia. Not only is this disease hard for the individual’s suffering from it, it also puts a lot of strain on loved ones too.
Treatments mainly revolve around medications that aim to increase dopamine production in the brain, decrease the breakdown of dopamine in the brain and decrease tremor severity.
This may seem like an effective treatment, because lowered dopamine is a driving factor behind the symptoms of PD. However, these medications do not address the underlying cause of PD.
Yes dopamine production is lowered and drugs that try to increase dopamine in the brain seem like an effective way to treat the disease. But the real question we should be asking in terms of treatment, is WHY are these dopamine producing neurons being destroyed? Addressing the factors that cause these neurons to be destroyed is addressing the underlying cause of PD.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that neuro-inflammation (inflammation in the brain and nervous system) is a driving factor behind the degeneration of neurons that produce dopamine.
Neuro-inflammation is caused by many diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. While genetic influences do play a role in PD, most diseases/chronic health issues result from a complex interaction between genetic predispositions and diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. Essentially genes load the gun, but our environment pulls the trigger.
The various diet, lifestyle and environmental factors that drive neuro-inflammation include:
- Diets high in processed and refined food
- Diets low in nutrient dense, whole foods that provide essential nutrients and anti-oxidants
- Obesity and weight gain
- Poor liver detoxification and heavy metal accumulation in the body from our environment (e.g. mercury dental amalgums)
- Chronic lack of sleep
- Lack of exersize
- Chronic stress
- Chronic infections
- Gastrointestinal disorders driven by imbalances of good and ad bacteria, such as IBS (there is an intimate link between the bacterial composition in our gut and the brain. It is called the gut-brain axis)
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Drug use
- Diabetes and high blood glucose levels
While there is no one cure or magic pill for treating PD, it is essential to take a multi-faceted treatment approach by addressing all the underlying drivers of PD. A qualified Naturopath can help you to do this by using diet and lifestyle interventions, as well as evidence based herbal and nutritional supplementation that is based on the latest research available.
If you or someone you know is suffering from PD, book a no obligation, free 20 minute consult with one of our naturopaths to find out more about how they can help you. Call 98940014 today!
By Alon Blumgart, Naturopath & Nutritionist