While conventional medicine has provided pharmaceutical and surgical options for managing the symptoms, these treatments typically offer little hope and many side effects. Thankfully, there is an alternative way to approach Parkinson’s disease: Functional Medicine.
Research shows that functional medicine combined with other holistic methods can offer strong support to those struggling with Parkinson’s. Unlike conventional medicine, functional medicine takes a holistic stance on treating the mind and body and addresses not only the symptoms, but the root causes as well.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by its signature tremors and muscle rigidity. Those who develop Parkinson’s disease experience damage to their central nervous system resulting in an impairment in movement, strength, and ease of the muscles and joints.
The Signs & Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
The most characteristic signs of Parkinson’s disease are the hallmark tremors and stiff gait. Over time, however, Parkinson’s affects more than just movement. Daily activities like speaking, eating, and even going to the restroom can become a major struggle for those with Parkinson’s disease.
Here are a few of the most common signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease:
- Involuntary movements, jerking, or tremors
- Stiff muscles and joints
- Difficulty moving, standing, sitting
- Muscle rigidity
- Slow, shuffling “parkinsonian” gait
- Trouble speaking or eating
- Dementia and other neurological disorders
- Reduced sense of smell
- Reduced facial expressions
- Constipation or urinary difficulty
- Sleep disturbances
What is the Functional Medicine Approach?
It is estimated that between 40 and 60% of those managing Parkinson’s disease are seeking an integrative approach to managing their symptoms. From seeking complementary therapies to adding natural remedies to their daily lives, those with Parkinson’s disease are in search of different modalities that can help.
Functional medicine is a biology-based medical system that focuses on treating the root of disease. In the TRULY HEAL Functional Medicine Health Coaching course we pay close attention to all the potential causes, factors and components that both sustain, aggravate and perpetuate the disease and it’s progression. To reverse and prevent the damage of Parkinson’s disease, functional medicine uses holistic methods to reduce chronic inflammation, regenerate the brain, heal the gut and support the body’s mitochondria just to mention a few.
Causes & Underlying Factors
The official cause of Parkinson’s disease remains unknown. However, there are many underlying causes and common underlying factors that may be culprits in the development of this disease.
Hormone & Neurotransmitters
Research has uncovered several commonalities in those with Parkinson’s that may lead to an eventual understanding of the root cause. One of these is the damage of neurons that produce dopamine, a critical neurotransmitter that controls movements.
Another finding is that the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine are also often damaged and can cause some of the other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease like digestive issues and fatigue.
Lewy bodies are another common feature present in the brains of those with Parkinson’s disease. Lewy bodies are clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. These bodies are actively being studied and are thought to be involved in the degeneration of the nervous system and memory.
There are many medical articles and research papers that show a connection of deficiency of B vitamins in Parkinson’s disease. B vitamins are needed for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body and typically reduced with Parkinson’s medications. Specifically research on vitamin B1 has suggested to improve non-motor and motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
Taking into account the damage and degeneration to the neurons, nerve endings, nervous system and memory we can conclude the following treatment (Near Infrared Light Therapy) to be VERY effective!
Near Infrared Light Therapy in Parkinson’s
A well researched topic is the one of brain cell regeneration with the use of near infrared light therapy. This therapy has demonstrated its widespread efficacy in improving conditions including traumatic brain injury, ischemic stroke, depression, and age related macular degeneration.
Near infrared light therapy has the potential to mitigate processes relating to cell damage, cell death, inflammation and oxidative stress.
In my opinion any individual suffering from Parkinson’s disease or other neurodegenerative/neuro-developmental conditions this is an absolute MUST DO therapy.
— In animal models of Parkinson’s, near infrared treatment has been shown to rescue dopaminergic neurons, the subset that degenerate in this condition, from death. In addition, near infrared light treatment corrects the abnormal firing activity of neurons in deep subthalamic brain regions that occurs in parkinsonian conditions. Various animal models of Parkinson’s disease shown improved motor control and locomotor activity, as measured by both mobility and velocity, after near infrared is applied.
Restoration of mitochondrial function in the endothelial cells lining cerebral blood vessels may also help neurons survive by repairing the blood-brain barrier and vascular network which is compromised in neurogenerative conditions.
Impressively, “This modulation of multiple molecular systems appears capable of both conditioning neurons to resist future damage and accelerating repair of neurons damaged by a previous or continuing insult”. – Credit Ali Le Vere – copyright GreenMedInfo —
Read more HERE
The Gut & Brain Connection
Whenever we talk about the health of our brain we always have to look at the health of our gut and vise versa. Research has shown that there is a strong connection between the development of Parkinson’s and gut dysfunction. It has shown that the intestinal microbiome and gut flora is altered in those with Parkinson’s disease. Often there is also an increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) which is correlated with markers of oxidative stress and inflammation. A study found that 25% of patients with Parkinson’s disease had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Rectal ozone insufflations will help in repairing the mucus membrane lining in the gut to reduce permeability and pathogenic overgrowth.
On the aspect of gut health and also subsequently immune function – gluten intolerance is actually linked to Parkinson’s disease. Transglutaminase 6 is an enzyme that has a lot of activity in the brain. And in some patients with Parkinson’s who consume gluten (with an intolerance) also produce antibodies to transglutaminase 6, their body essentially attacks this transglutaminase 6 enzyme in the brain and can cause neurodegeneration. Gluten, therefore is best avoided as it can contribute to or exacerbate the disease.
Prebiotics and probiotics help to reduce gut inflammation and improve the digestive symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Dietary recommendations would include to consume a nutrient dense diet as nutritional deficiencies are prevalent. Research has shown that a diet high in healthy fats, lower in carbohydrates may be helpful for those with Parkinson’s disease. This diet can help to reduce oxidative stress and reduce neuro-inflammation.
In addition to a nutrient dense diet, the brain thrives on omega 3 fatty acids, so supplementation of DHA/EPA which are neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction & Oxidative stress
Mitochondria have a crucial role in determining our overall health, energy, and longevity. Unfortunately, over time the mitochondria can become damaged and dysfunctional. This typically occurs from stress, oxidative damage (free radicals), exposure to toxins, nutritional deficiencies, and chronic inflammation.
Ongoing research has shown that addressing the health of the mitochondria may be helpful in both treating Parkinson’s disease as well as preventing it in the future.
Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to improve your mitochondrial health.
Research shows that the part of the brain affected in Parkinson’s Disease, has the least amount of glutathione. The reduced amount of glutathione makes this part of the brain more susceptible to damage from neurotoxins. When a chemical neurotoxin enters the brain, it creates radical damage to the tissues. The tissues that have the least amount of antioxidants experience the most damage. It has been noted that glutathione supplementation can help replenish the body and brain with glutathione.
Coenzyme Q10 aids mitochondria energy production and is a part of the antioxidant system. CoQ10 is essential for daily functions and required by every cell in the body. It has been found to have neuroprotective effects and prevent against free radical damage in Parkinson’s disease.
Ozone is a powerful mitochondrial stimulant. The fundamental underlying cause behind all degenerative disease from Parkinson’s disease to heart disease to cancer is decreased mitochondrial energy production.
Ozone can correct this problem!
Ozone increases antioxidant protection by activating Nrf2 more than any other therapy. Under conditions of stress or growth factor stimulation, activation of Nrf2 counteracts the increased reactive oxygen species production in mitochondrial.
The Role of Inflammation
Inflammation, while helpful in many situations, is one of the biggest systemic health concerns when it becomes chronic.
When it comes to neurological health, inflammation can lead to cell death, specifically of the neurons that produce dopamine and norepinephrine. Inflammation in the gut is thought to cause the increased folding and mutation of alpha-synuclein, the protein that causes the Lewy bodies associated with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body Dementia.
Vitamin C, E and Curcumin are powerful antioxidants and help to reduce inflammation and protect the body’s cells. Ozone therapy is also effective in reducing inflammation and inflammatory factors induced by chronic oxidative stress.
Environmental Toxins & Detoxification
Another factor in Parkinson’s disease is excessive exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, heavy metals, or chemicals. There is strong research correlation to environmental exposures and it’s link to development and progression of Parkinson’s disease.
Since toxin damage can destroy brain cells, toxin exposure can lead to the destruction of the neurons that control motor function and cause Parkinson’s.
In most cases, these causes contribute to widespread damage of the central nervous system and lead to the many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including motor impairment and tremors.
Research has shown that PEMF therapy improves Parkinson’s disease symptoms including tremors, slowness of movement and difficulty in walking. It is non-invasive, safe and improves Parkinson’s disease patients’ quality of life. In a study PEMF therapy was applied to a 49-year-old male patient with Parkinson’s Disease, stage 3. The results marked improvement in motor and non-motor symptoms such as mood swings, sleeplessness, pain and sexual and cognitive dysfunctions, suggesting that PEMF therapy should be considered as an effective and underrated therapy.
Parkinson’s Disease sufferers can experience promising results by incorporating a few mindful lifestyle habits into their daily lives. Tai Chi and yoga are excellent ways to practice strength, flexibility, and improve circulation throughout the body. Additional therapies like acupuncture and massage treatments have also been shown to relieve pain, tremors, tension, stress, and fatigue associated with Parkinson’s Disease. A regular sleep schedule is key for restoring mitochondrial health and easing symptoms of depression, stress, and fatigue.
Functional medicine will always primarily focus on finding the most pertinent causes that affect each individual and therefore have the power to address the root causes of Parkinson’s Disease and improve daily life. A Functional Medicine Health Coach can offer a supportive and well-rounded therapeutic approach to anyone suffering from Parkinson’s disease.