James Parkinson was the first doctor to write a detailed description of Parkinson’s disease and therefore the disease was named after him.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disorder that affects movement. It is progressive and worsens with time. It is associated with death of nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for movement.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a long term and chronic disorder associated with degeneration of the central nervous system which eventually affects movement of the individual. It progresses slowly in most people and is currently incurable.
It takes a number of years for lots of people to discover that they have this disorder.
Normally, there are cells in the brain that are responsible for the production of dopamine. When these cells are damaged, the person will not be able to experience proper movement of the body muscles and Parkinson’s disease sets in.
Parkinson’s disease occurs mostly in people over the age of 60 and it is more common among men than women. Few people between the ages of 40-50 years have been diagnosed to have this disease and at this stage it is called young onset.
Causes of Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is one of those diseases that a specific cause is yet to be known.
Genetic factors and environmental toxin may play a role in this disease as well as illness and aging.
Genetic Factor: Parkinson’s disease runs in the family. If you have Parkinson’s disease, there is a high possibility that one of your children or relatives will have the disease.
Environmental factors: Environment has a role to play in Parkinson’s disease. Staying in an environment where one is exposed to pesticide, insecticides and other toxins may lead to Parkinson’s disease. Drinking water that has been exposed to pesticides can also lead to Parkinson’s disease. Emotional trauma and stress may also contribute to Parkinson’s disease.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Being a progressive disease, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease worsen with time. During the early stages there may be little or no expression on the face and speech might become softer and lower. There are other signs associated with Parkinson’s disease some of which are discussed briefly below.
- Tremor. A tremor, or shaking, usually begins in a limb, often your hand or fingers. You may notice a back-and-forth rubbing of your thumb and forefinger, known as a pill-rolling tremor. One characteristic of Parkinson's disease is a tremor of your hand when it is relaxed (at rest).
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia). Over time, Parkinson's disease may reduce your ability to move and slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Your steps may become shorter when you walk, or you may find it difficult to get out of a chair. Also, you may drag your feet as you try to walk, making it difficult to move.
- Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body. The stiff muscles can limit your range of motion and cause you pain.
- Impaired posture and balance. Your posture may become stooped, or you may have balance problems as a result of Parkinson's disease.
- Loss of automatic movements. In Parkinson's disease, you may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.
- Speech changes. You may have speech problems as a result of Parkinson's disease. You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than with the usual inflections.
- Writing changes. It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.
Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease
There are no standard diagnostic tests for Parkinson’s. Your doctor has to rule out the possibility of other disorders, check your medical history and do other neurological examinations before confirming Parkinson’s disease.
Natural Supplements for Parkinson’s Disease
Supplements that can help control Parkinson’s disease include:
Lifestyle changes to help manage Parkinson’s Disease
Taking the right supplements can be of great benefit when it comes to managing parkinson’s but there also a few simple changes you can make to your lifestyle that will also make a positive change in symptoms.
Exercise: Activities such as yoga, swimming, dancing or walking will strengthen the body and help the muscles stay limber. As well, your immune system will be stronger and you will have an overall sense of well-being, as exercise releases feel good endorphins.
Stretching: Stretching is very different from exercise in that exercise helps to strengthen muscles more where as stretching is about lengthening muscles, relieving stiffness and improving flexibility. Yoga falls into both the exercising category and stretching because it lengthen and strengthen at the same time.
Diet: A slight alteration to diet can make a huge difference as well. There has recently been an increase in the popularity of what’s known as a ‘ketogenic diet’ which is basically a very low carb diet designed to put the body into ketosis in order to lose weight. There is another huge benefit to a ketogenic diet though that is specific to people with disease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. A Ketogenic diet causes the body to produce ketones which provide an alternative fuel source for the brain. In her new book ‘The Coconut Oil & Low-Carb Solution for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Other Diseases’, Dr. Mary T. Newport talks about the importance of ketones in relation to these diseases. A Ketogenic diet essentially consists of high quality protein, healthy fats, high nutrient low carb vegetables and little to no carbs.
It may seem like a daunting task to change your eating habits but as they say “you are what you eat” and eating the wrong foods can be very detrimental especially when battling a debilitating disease. So start slow and make a few simple changes and you will see and feel the difference in your body.
Parkinson’s can be a difficult disease to manage but there are many natural choices out there that can slow the progression and give you back quality of life.