Parkinson’s Disease: Diet and Complementary Therapies

One area that I am particularly interested in is Parkinson's Disease. Over the last two years I have had the pleasure of working with several clients diagnosed with either early or late onset Parkinson's.

Despite the condition being progressive, there is much value in delaying progress. This being so, science has started to examine the possible role that nutrition and complementary therapy may play in slowing the progression of Parkinson's Disease.

There is a current hypothesis that Vitamin E and C might protect neurons and delay the degeneration of Parkinson's Disease. It is suggested that some of the neuron degeneration in Parkinson's is caused by an excess of oxidising chemicals in the body. For this reason, removing oxidising chemicals from the circulation may prove effective in protecting neurons. To neutralise (remove) oxidising chemicals we require antioxidants, two of which are Vitamin E and C.

A landmark pilot study in 1992 that examined the co-administration of high dose Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) and Vitamin C (ascorbate) showed that combined administration of Vitamin E and Vitamin C reduced the progression of Parkinson's Disease. Moreover, a large cohort study in 2002 demonstrated that high dietary vitamin E intake, but not Vitamin C, reduced the risk of Parkinson's Disease. However, despite the foregoing research it is important to note that the results of double-blinded randomised controlled trials have been disappointing, where Vitamin E showed no benefits in Parkinson's Disease.

Another neuroprotective agent, studied in recent times is, Creatine (an acid, largely produced by the liver that is capable of supplying energy to muscle and nerve cells in the body). Pre-clinical studies in various models have demonstrated the potential role as a neuroprotective agent. For example, in early clinical studies, 2 grams daily creatine administration improved behavioural difficulties in a clinical trial of 200 subjects who were within 5 years of a Parkinson's Disease diagnosis. In an additional follow up study, 2008, creatine continued to show neuroprotective benefits 18 months following creatine administration. More recently, a phase III clinical trial (Trial of a large group, e.g. Excess of 1000 subjects) is under way by the National Institute of Health (to be completed in 5-7 years), where creatine is administered at a dose of 10 grams in a large long term study of Parkinson's Disease targeting 1,720 participants with the disease (the study involved 52 medical facilities). We eagerly await the results!

Finally, the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10 also shows promise as a neuroprotective agent in Parkinson's Disease. Postmortem studies have shown that Coenzyme Q10 levels in the plasma and platelets of Parkinson's patients were significantly lower compared to aged matched controls, and that the oxidised form of Coenzyme Q10 was elevated in Parkinson's patients (meaning greater use by the body). This information suggests that Coenzyme Q10 supplementation may prove beneficial. In a recent (2011) double-blind, placebo controlled phase II study, Coenzyme Q10 (at 3 different dosages- 300, 600 and 1200 mg daily) administration over 16 months, statistically improved the Parkinson's Rating (scale to measure progression of Parkinson's like symptoms), of all 80 untreated patients. However, it is to be noted that only the highest dosage of 1200 mg daily proved effective. A follow up, randomised, placebo controlled, double-blind study is now under way to assess the effect of administering 2400 mg daily to 600 early, non-medicated Parkinson's patients.

Parkinson's

If you have any questions regarding this article, or additional health concerns, please feel free to contact me on 0432234822 or info@markhincheynaturopathy.com.au

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