Q. Dear Natalie, I have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. My doctor has suggested that I speak to a nutritionist to advise me which vitamins can help with the slowing down of certain symptoms. Can you advise?

A. There are several vitamins which can help alleviate symptoms and prevent the development of Parkinson's disease. Make sure you confirm with your doctor. The main vitamins which play a role in the prevention and treatment of Parkinson's disease include Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin B-6.

Vitamin C can delay the need for prescription medicines (University of Maryland Medical Centre). It is also an antioxidant vitamin that has the ability to neutralize free radicals and toxic quinones released as a result of the metabolism of the neurotransmitter dopamine, thereby protecting brain cells. Vitamin B-6 can help reduce drug-related side effects.

Often people with Parkinson's disease can be susceptible to osteoporosis and therefore Vitamin D helps to prevent the development of this condition. Not only does Vitamin D help build and maintain strong bones and teeth, according to a report published by Science Daily in July 2010, it plays an important role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. The report proved that long-term deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to loss of neurons in the brain, thereby accelerating the progress of the disease.

Although these vitamins can be taken as supplements, they are also found in a variety of foods. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, red and green peppers, strawberries and broccoli. As well as safe exposure to sunlight, Vitamin D is also found in dairy products and fish. Rich sources of Vitamin B can be found in meats, poultry, nuts and yeast extracts. The recommended dose is 1 g of Vitamin C three times daily and 400 IU to 1000 IU of Vitamin D daily. Depending on the dosage of your Parkinson’s medication, Vitamin B-6 may interfere with the metabolism of your Parkinson's drugs, therefore you should ask your doctor how much of this particular vitamin you should take.
   
Q. Dear Natalie, my wife has been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for just over two years. Can you suggest any herbal remedies that help slow down the progression of Parkinson’s or can help with any of the common symptoms.

A. A wonderful aid in the treatment of Parkinson’s is the herb Ginkgo biloba. It’s an antioxidant that can help to improve blood flow to the brain. The results of a study published in the August 2004 issue of "Phytotherapy Research" shows that an extract of this herb has a neuroprotective effect.

The Ayurvedic herb brahmi is often used to treat people with Parkinson's disease. It works by improving circulation to the brain and contains chemicals that improve learning and thinking.

Another fantastic herb commonly prescribed in the treatment for Parkinson’s is Cowhage. It contains levodopa, a chemical that is converted to dopamine in the body. I recommend you ask your doctor which of these herbs are most suitable for your wife.

Degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, are often induced by the build-up of toxins in the body. This is when certain herbs known for their detoxifying properties can be particularly effective for treating Parkinson's disease. Try including one of the following as a detox plan: burdock root, dandelion root, ginger root, milk thistle, cayenne, goldenseal, yarrow, hawthorn, liquorice, red clover, yellow dock or black cohosh.

Siberian ginseng is an effective and commonly used herb in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. It improves the immune system, boosts energy, heightens memory and helps to recover from illness more rapidly. Due its adaptogenic properties Siberian Ginseng can help your body adapt to stressful situations, both internal and external.

Q. Dear Natalie, Can acupuncture help with the treatment of Parkinson’s disease?

A.  Slowness in moving and muscular stiffness are among the first symptoms of Parkinson's disease.  As it progresses, the muscles of the face can stiffen, walking becomes increasingly difficult, and speech may be affected.

In many cases, a tremor in the limbs is present. Parkinson's disease is caused by degeneration of nerve cells in the brain responsible for controlling movement, and a shortage of dopamine. Patients consulting a Chinese Medicine practitioner will usually be treated focusing on the liver and kidney areas, with the aim to boost any deficiency of blood and kidney yin. This deficiency is what Chinese Medicine practitioners believe leads to lack of nourishment to the brain through internal "wind", making the body shake.

According to Chinese Medicine theory, the liver and kidney must be nourished to increase the body fluids. Many mild cases of Parkinson's disease can be helped with acupuncture and Chinese medicine herbs.

Acupuncture will help Parkinson's disease and will usually always be given in tandem with Chinese herbal medicine. The herbs fleece-flower root, mulberry root and uncaria stem are good to extinguish the wind.

Herbs to move the blood and nourish the liver are peony buds and white peony root. A very common and effective Chinese herb is known as gastrodia tuber, which nourishes the brain, blood and kidneys and helps stops the shaking.

This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

To book a free 15 minute consultation with Natalie please email nateopath@gmail.com. She will advise which treatment is best for your individual needs; Reflexology, Homeopathy, Massage or Flower Remedies including nutritional advice. There is no obligation to book a treatment following the free consultation.

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