Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a degenerative disorder of the brain and central nervous system, and is considered a movement disorder. It is also referred to as primary Parkinsonism, hypokinetic rigid syndrome (HRS), or paralysis agitans. Parkinsonism as currently classified by medicine also includes secondary (or acquired) Parkinsonism, hereditary Parkinsonism, and Parkinson plus sydromes (or multiple system degeneration).
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, difficulty walking, and loss of coordination. Other symptoms including difficulty thinking, cognitive decline, behavioral problems, sleep difficulties, sensory deficits, and dementia. These often arise in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. Depression is also common.
Primary Parkinsonism is considered by modern medicine to be “idiopathic,” which means there is no known cause. That is, science recognizes no single cause. However, many risk (and protective) factors are under investigation. New studies are bringing science closer to establishing and confirming causal factors. Equally importantly, new studies are shedding light on the disease in ways that can enable individuals to avoid, prevent, or delay its onset, as well as to mitigate its effects.
Certainly, there are genetic components to causation, i.e., genetic predisposition. It seems likely that triggers exist that when combined with genetic predisposition, can lead to the development of the disease.
Genetic testing may allow classification of such cases as hereditary parkinsonism, but it can be difficult to distinguish genetic susceptibility that may lead to Parkinson’s from cases where genes can positively be identified as the directly related to the disease. Only a small percentage of cases can show unequivocal proof of genetic causation.
Conventional medical treatments of Parkinson’s disease center on the use of levodopa, dopamine agonists, and other pharmaceuticals targeting the early motor symptoms of the disease. These drugs eventually become ineffective at treating symptoms because as the disease progresses dopaminergic neurons continue to be lost.
Loss of neurons in conventional treatment using levodopa (L-DOPA) is due in part to the fact that the drug exerts oxidative damage upon the neurons, damaging them, and leaving fewer to be targeted by the drugs. Other treatments center upon the use of gene therapy, stem cell transplants, and the use of neuroprotective agents.
Parkinson’s is considered a “synucleinopathy” because it is characterized by abnormal accumulations of alpha-synuclein protein in the brain in the form of Lewy bodies. This contrasts with other brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease whereby tau protein accumulates in the brain manifesting as neurofibrillary tangles. Yet, pathological overlap between tauopathies and synucleinopathies has been observed. For example, dementia, which is the primary symptom of Alzheimer’s disease also occurs in the Parkinson’s disease. In addition, neurofibrillary tangles are commonly found in the brains of individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
PESTICIDES AND SOLVENTS
The risk factors to which the clearest evidence points are exposures to pesticides, and other agricultural, household, and industrial chemicals, including solvents like trichloroethylene (TCE), as well as other toxins.
In a recent study published in the journal Neurology, a meta-analysis was conducted using 104 studies (3,087 citations). The study found that risk of Parkinson’s was increased by exposure to any type of pesticides, herbicides, or solvents. Specifically, the study found a positive correlation between exposure to insecticides (including organophosphates (e.g., chlorpyrifos) and organochlorines (such as DDT, and now mostly banned, but found residually in many places), as well as exposure to pesticides (like rotenone and paraquat) or mancozeb, and herbicides like Agent Orange (also present residually in certain environments).
In addition, occupational farming and living in rural areas (where farming occurs) also was a significant risk factor, probably both because of direct and indirect exposures, as well as drinking water from sources polluted with pesticides and agricultural toxins.
The study concludes that the literature support the hypothesis that exposure to pesticides or solvents is a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease, and that future studies should focus on specific chemical agents in order to substantiate a cause-effect relationship.
Solvents are found in various industrial and household cleaners, degreasers, surface coatings, extraction chemicals, and laboratory chemicals. They are components of paints, inks, glues, adhesives, and hydrocarbon fuels. It is known, for example, that occupational exposures to solvents including carbon disulfide, methanol, n-hexane, and trichloroethylene (TCE) carry increased risks for Parkinson’s disease.
LEAD AND OTHER METALS
Lead is best known as a toxin affecting the neurological development of infants and children. Not surprisingly, studies now show that lead exposure increases the risk of neurodegenerative disorders in individuals as they age. While the mechanisms for lead’s adverse effects upon aging brains has been less studied, the evidence shows that lead and other heavy metals contributes to cognitive decline, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
Studies of older men have shown increasing levels of lead in bones to be associated with accelerated cognitive decline. Individuals having the highest lead levels have exhibited 15 years of additional cognitive aging compared to the those with the lowest levels. Studies of women have come to similar conclusions. In addition, high bone lead levels are associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Other evidence points to other metals such as mercury, aluminum, cadmium, and manganese as playing a role in the origin and development of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
Detoxification of heavy metals is imperative when exposure has occurred. Use of chlorella and Rejuvenate! superfoods (e.g., original greens or PLUS) is one means to detoxify heavy metals because the cell wall of chlorella can sequester heavy metals for removal from the body. Other practices as outlined in the HPDI Rejuvenation Program (e.g., Parts Two and Six) can be helpful to support detoxification of metals.
POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBS)
PCBs were used for decades as flame retardants, paint plasticizers, adhesives, and lubricants and coolants for electrical equipment. They were banned in the US by the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act (1976). Yet, because PCBs continue to persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in the food supply, individuals continue being exposed. Testing shows the public is widely contaminated with PCBs.
While many of the early studies focused on the effects of PCBs on children, recent studies indicate links between PCBs and both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
At least three studies have explored the effects of PCBs on cognitive decline or dementia. All three concluded higher levels of exposure are associated with increased risk of dementia or cognitive impairment.
A mortality study of more than 17,000 workers who were exposed to PCBs found a nearly threefold excess of Parkinson’s disease-related deaths and twice as many dementia-related deaths in women who were the most highly exposed to PCBs. A separate postmortem study reported higher levels of PCBs in brains of individuals afflicted with Parkinson’s disease than controls. Other animal and cell studies show that certain PCBs produce Parkinson-like changes in the brain and/or brain cells.
Many in the scientific community consider Parkinson’s disease to be idiopathic because there is no “single” factor that explains its causation. Nevertheless, mounting evidence suggests it is likely to be proven that Parkinson’s disease can be initiated or accelerated by, or caused directly or indirectly by exposures to pesticides, solvents, chemicals (perhaps also household chemicals), PCBs, lead and other metals, as well as various other toxic substances.
STOP PARKINSON’S DISEASE, AVOID IT, OR MITIGATE EFFECTS NATURALLY
PREVENT EXPOSURE TO PESTICIDES, SOLVENTS & TOXIC POLLUTANTS
If exposures to pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, and chemicals like PCBs are primary culprits in Parkinson’s disease, then eliminating or reducing exposures should the first step in preventing the initiation of the process that leads to the changes in the brain and central nervous system that characterize the disease.
Modern medicine offers no cure for Parkinson’s disease (e.g., it is often considered “incurable”) and existing medical treatments exhibit limited results. Nevertheless, in addition to the avoidance of pesticides and other toxins that contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease, natural or alternative practices exist that may be helpful for it.
Naturally focused practices, protocols, activities, and supplement formulas offer the benefit of not causing harm, working with body to help it detoxify it (i.e., remove and reduce the toxins associated with Parkinson’s disease), supporting general health, as well as targeting the brain with nutrients known to support brain health and the central nervous system (CNS), boost immunity, and provide other significant benefits.
DETOXIFY & SUPPORT BRAIN HEALTH USING NUTRIENTS
If, as noted above, exposures to pesticides and other toxins are the primary culprit in Parkinsonism, then preventing exposures should be the first priority in order to avoid the development of the disease. If exposures have already occurred and/or if Parkinson’s has already developed, then detoxifying the body of these substances, and protecting the brain from their effects represent common-sense steps.
Avoidance of suspected toxins and detoxification of the body, therefore, are among the two best practices that can help individuals avoid the onset on Parkinson’s disease, or mitigate the symptoms if exposures have previously occurred, or are currently occurring.
Another critical element is nutritional support. Nutrients that support detoxification and brain health are the most important for mitigating or reversing the harmful effects of toxins that are suspected in Parkinsonism.
I will not discuss detoxification practices in depth because that is is beyond the scope of this article. However, the same detoxification practices we recommend for general health also apply to brain health. For more information on detoxification, see our Rejuvenation Program articles in the HPDI blog, including Part Two (detoxification and preventing toxicity) and Part Six (supporting protocols). Suffice it to say that if exposures have already occurred, then there is every reason to detoxify the body in order to support and maintain good health.
I will discuss nutrients required for good health, including the role of foundational supplements. Also, read more in HPDI blog about foundational supplements in the context of the Rejuvenation Program. The HPDI website offers a complete selection of foundational supplements.
FOUNDATIONAL NUTRIENTS TO SUPPORT PARKINSON’S
I talk about it frequently. Linus Pauling said it, too. Basic foundational supplements are the best daily protection for health. At a cost of pennies per day, basic requirements for nutrients can be obtained from a multivitamin, Vitamin C and antioxidant formulas, essential fatty acids, and superfoods (like chlorella or Rejuvenate!™).
Foundational supplements are called “foundational” because they form the nucleus, or core, of a complete nutritional supplement program. The program for Parkinson’s disease, for example, includes foundational supplements and then other formulas that address the specific needs of individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
As important as are foundational nutrients, too easily they can become invisible. We’ve heard it before: take a multivitamin, essential fats, detoxify with chlorella, etc. So, it’s easy to take them for granted, and forget to take them, or take them sporadically.
Dr. Linus Pauling was clear on this topic. He said basic supplements should be taken daily and not to miss a day. In his bestseller How to Live Longer and Feel Better, in regard to his recommended daily supplement regimen, he states:
“The measures that you take to improve your health and prolong your life should not be so burdensome and disagreeable as to interfere seriously with the quality of your life and make it difficult for you to continue with the regimen day after day, year after year. Compliance is very important. The regimen…is of such a nature that you should be able to adhere to it rigorously, day after day, for the rest of your life.” (8)
Why would a Nobel Prize laureate like Dr. Pauling advocate taking nutritional supplements consistently? Because he understood that the benefits basic supplements confer can only be gained when taken regularly. And that benefits are maximized when supplements are taken consistently over the long-term.
Reasons foundational supplements are important for Parkinson’s disease include the fact that they 1) are important for overall health, 2) support detoxification processes, 3) support brain health. There are many others reasons for their importance, and there are also explanations for how foundational supplements contribute to items 1–3 above.
A full treatment of the benefits conferred by foundational supplements is beyond the scope of this article. However, you can read more about how foundational supplements help create and support optimal health by reading Why You Need Foundational Supplements or our e-book The Need for Foundational Supplements (in .pdf format).
HIGHLIGHTS OF EFFECTS OF FOUNDATIONAL SUPPLEMENTS ON PARKINSON’S DISEASE
MULTIVITAMINS WITH B VITAMINS
While a detailed consideration of the benefits of foundational supplements goes beyond the space I can devote to the topic in this article, I will briefly highlight benefits that relate to Parkinson’s disease and/or brain health.
A high-potency multivitamin provides important vitamins and minerals required for brain health. Key among these are the B vitamins (which I will discuss further below). B vitamins are essential for brain health for many reasons. One of the most important aspects of B vitamins for brain health is the role certain ones play in the reduction of homocysteine.
Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid biosynthesized from methionine. High levels of homocysteine are associated with cardiovascular disease. It is known that individuals having high levels of homocysteine more susceptible to endothelial injury. This can lead to vascular inflammation, atherogenesis, and ischemic injury. Elevated homocysteine levels thus are correlated with the occurrence of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
Homocysteine, however, can be recycled by the body into methionine or converted into cysteine with the aid of B-vitamins. That is, certain B vitamins (especially B6, B12, and folate) facilitate the conversion of potentially harmful homocysteine into non-harmful cysteine, or recycling into methionine.
After the publication of Dr. Kilmer S. McCully’s groundbreaking Homocysteine Revolution (1997), homocysteine entered the public consciousness as a significant threat to cardiovascular health. Yet, it is clear that homocysteine is also a threat to brain health, and largely due to its adverse effects on the vascular system, which includes vessels in the brain.
Among others, Dr. David Perlmutter writes on the role of elevated homocysteine levels as a marker for brain degeneration, including brain atrophy (wasting away of vital brain tissue) and damage to the brain’s blood vessel system).
Dr. Perlmutter states that these factors explain why elevated homocysteine is associated with a vastly increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. He notes that a homocysteine level of just 14 or above has been shown to double a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, for example. He also notes that most laboratories consider a normal value for homocysteine to be about 10 or below.
Perlmutter also finds that high homocysteine levels can lead to another common cause of dementia known as ‘vascular dementia’ due of homocysteine’s effects on blood vessels In this scenario, brain function declines as a result of damage to the small blood vessels carrying blood to the brain tissue. Over time, this damage leads to numerous small strokes, which ultimately compromise mental function.
He also confirms that individuals with elevated homocysteine are at high risk for other vascular conditions, including myocardial infarction, angina, coronary artery disease (CAD), and blood clots in the legs that may migrate to lungs.
Armed with the knowledge that a few B vitamins can reduce homocysteine levels and/or keep them in check, individuals who take B vitamins regularly at least can lessen a known risk factor, thereby protecting vascular health throughout the entire body, including the brain and cardiovascular system.
As noted, Parkinson’s disease appears to be related to exposure to pesticides and other chemicals adversely affecting dopamine pathways rather than damage of the vascular system. However, maintaining a healthy vascular system in the brain at least prevents the additional challenge of mental functions compromised by weakened and/or damaged vessels. Also, because no one really yet knows conclusively the causes of Parkinson’s disease, it simply makes sense to take care of the health of the entire brain, instead of focusing solely on detoxification or avoiding pesticide exposure, for example.
This is just one example of how a relatively inexpensive, high-potency multivitamin that includes B vitamins can make a huge difference in brain health.
While B vitamins ideally are obtained via a multivitamin that also provides other nutrients important for brain health, certain individuals may also benefit from a standalone B vitamin supplement, such as HPDI’s B-Complex-50.
EVIDENCE FOR B VITAMIN EFFICACY IN PARKINSONISM
There is increasing evidence that certain B vitamins exert a positive effect on Parkinson’s disease patients. A study from researchers from the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil found that supplementing with Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) significantly improved motor function.
Reduced levels of riboflavin are associated with low activities of two enzymes, erythrocyte glutathione reductase (EGR) and pyridoxin(pyridoxamine)-phosphate oxidase. Therefore, low EGR activity may relate to the glutathione depletion and impaired antioxidant defense observed in Parkinson’s patients often before their disease becomes clinically evident.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFAS) FOR BRAIN HEALTH
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are important foundational supplements for overall health. They are critical for health and well-being due to the effects they exert on inflammatory processes, including inflammation that affects the brain.
Omega-3 and omega-6 lipids play important roles in the formation of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are cellular regulators controlling inflammatory processes and pain in the body. Essential fats are important for general health, and they may be useful adjuncts in protocols that deal with 1) cardiovascular disease, 2) hypertension, 3) arthritis and other inflammatory disorders, 4) psoriasis and other skin problems, 5) diabetes mellitus, 6) depression, and 7) kidney disease. GLA may be a useful adjunct in protocols that deal with 1) multiple sclerosis and 2) arthritis. Research indicates that there are synergistic effects between EPA, DHA, and GLA when they are in a balanced formula. It is known, for example, that EPA inhibits the conversion of GLA into the pro-inflammatory and pain-causing arachidonic acid.
Much has been written on the topic (including in our blog posts about the HPDI Rejuvenation Program) of the fundamental importance of essential fats for health and the brain. Yet, it all bears repeating because most people still don’t obtain adequate essential fatty acids either through diet or supplements.
The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is well known to be important for optimal brain function. DHA is found in high concentration in the gray matter of the brain. DHA is essential for the function of brain cell membranes, which are important for the transmission of brain signals. Omega-3 fats help make cell membranes more fluid, thereby improving intercellular communication. Therefore, a deficiency of omega-3 in the body, for example, can cause a communication problems in the brain.
It is notable that while omega-3s were abundant in diets before the 20th century, modern diets typically lacks the proper ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 (e.g., 4:1 or lower). Many have likened the brain to a machine (such as an automobile) that requires oil in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in order to function properly.
The standard American diet (SAD) doesn’t provide the proper balance of these fatty acids. If an individual consumes a typical modern diet, he or she may obtain adequate omega-6 from corn, soybean, and other oils in processed foods. But omega-3 oils, which are just as important, are typically obtained in low amounts.
Omega-3 deficiencies in adults have been linked to various mental and emotional disorders. Specifically, low levels of DHA have been linked to memory loss, depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, autism and general learning difficulties.
The need for adequate essential fatty acids does not diminish with age. In fact, low omega-3 levels are likely a contributing factor to stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and other brain conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. The accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques in the aging brain is thought to be related to inflammation of blood vessels in the brain.
Because omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, they are important to helping support brain health and maintaining. For example, studies from around the world show that supplemental DHA (omega-3) sharpens memory in patients with dementia and depression and improves their speech and behavior.
While much of the emphasis on essential fats focuses on omega-3 deficiency due to the fact that modern diets contain so little of it, it is important that omega-6 and omega-3 be obtained in proper ratios (e.g., 4:1, 3:1, or even 2:1). This is important because an overabundance of omega-3 or omega-6 is not healthy.
Vitamin C is essential for health and for brain health. In fact, the evidence keeps mounting for the health benefits of vitamin C that it seems remarkable that the conventional wisdom about vitamin C remains in places mired in the 1970s debate about its effects on the common cold. The truth is that vitamin c is proving its versatility, potency, effectiveness more than ever and in many surprising ways.
In fact, vitamin C is proving itself to be one of the most valuable nutritional assets imaginable and that includes high-dosage vitamin C, i.e., in dosages ranging from 10–50 mg daily in divided doses.
From the perspective of brain health, the roles of vitamin c for collagen building and protection are of paramount importance. Other major roles for vitamin C in this regard include its amazing effects on the cardiovascular, and indeed the entire vascular system.
Another not-so-well recognized benefit is how vitamin c counteracts the effects of sugars on tissues, including brain tissues. Sugars glycate, cross link, damage, and age tissues. Vitamin C protects tissues not only through its role as a collagen builder, but also due its potent antioxidant capabilities as a hydrogen and/or electron donor.
Vitamin C also works together with bioflavonoids and other phytochemicals such that they exert potent synergistic effects that fight the biological markers of aging, including brain aging.
For additional insights into the benefits of vitamin C, please read this month’s article by Dr. Hank Liers, “Vitamin C – An Amazing Nutrient.”
HPDI offers a wide range of vitamin C products. These include our flagship products PRO-C™ and Ultimate Protector™, which are formulated to maximize the effects of vitamin C as an anti-aging, rejuvenating substance. In particular, we recommend Ultimate Protector™ as an overall antioxidant formula, which provides an astonishing 486,000 ORAC5.0 units (as measured independently by Brunswick Labs’ ORAC5.0 test), as well as across the board protection from all major types of free radicals.
Rejuvenate! superfoods are unique superfoods many of which provide chlorella, spirulina, d-ribose, high-quality protein, coenzyme vitamins, and other healthy ingredients. The signature ingredients found in all Rejuvenate! superfoods are dietary nucleic acids (RNA, DNA, nucleotides, and nucleosides). Rejuvenate! superfoods are ideal for individuals who wish to avoid the development of brain disease including Parkinson’s disease, as well as for those who wish to mitigate the effects of the Parkinsonism.
There are various superfoods on the market that provide high-quality chlorella and/or spirulina. We consider chlorella, for example, to be virtually essential for optimal health due to its unique profile of health benefits. These benefits range from detoxification of heavy metals and chemical contaminants to supporting healthy tissue growth and healing. Chlorella also provides key nutrients and is alkaline-forming in the body. It also provides dietary RNA.
We recommend Rejuvenate! superfoods because they are the only dedicated high-RNA superfoods specifically formulated to provide high (as in therapeutic) levels of dietary nucleic acids. While the benefits of dietary nucleic acids are rarely mentioned in the literature of nutrition (and hardly promulgated even by nutritional supplement companies), the fact is that the benefits of dietary nucleic acids may surprise you, as well as powerfully boost your health.
Benefits of dietary nucleic acids include improved energy levels (via greater ATP production), functional strength, easier breathing, improved intercellular communication, greater resistance to temperature extremes, improved tone of skin such that you may appear up to ten years younger (as described extensively by Dr. Benjamin S. Frank) (and witnessed by almost everyone who obtains significant amounts of dietary RNA).
Brain benefits include greater brain energy (via ATP production), detoxification (including heavy metals and chemicals), brain oxygenation, and vascular rejuvenation.
For improved brain health and support for conditions like Parkinson’s disease, we especially recommend Rejuvenate! (original greens) (which provides the highest amount of chlorella per serving) and Rejuvenate! PLUS, which offers greens plus complete nutrition, including high levels of protein, a built-in multivitamin and mineral complex, herbs, and a wonderful taste.
CONDITION-SPECIFIC FORMULAS FOR THE BRAIN AND PARKINSONISM
KEY BRAIN NUTRIENTS
Nutrients that target and benefit the brain are important for Parkinson’s patients and for those who wish to prevent and/or avoid Parkinson’s disease.
L-carnosine is a nutrient highly recommended for maintaining and improving brain function, especially as we age. It is neuropeptide, and a dipeptide of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine (beta-alanyl-l-histidine) acting an an anti-aging antioxidant that supports cell resistance to oxidative stress, and conditions of cellular senescence, neurological degeneration, and age-related conditions (including age-related memory decline).
L-carnosine is normally made in the human body and found at high levels in brain, innervated tissues, the eye lens, and skeletal muscle tissue.
Laboratory studies have demonstrated the ability of L-carnosine ability to protect cells against oxidative stress and to increase cell resistance to functional exhaustion and accumulation of senile features. The mechanisms of this protection are explicable in terms of proton buffering (maintaining pH balance), free-radical and active sugar molecule scavenging (which counters the glycation of proteins), and preventing modification of biomacromolecules (thereby preserving their native functionality under oxidative stress).
…more recent studies have shown that carnosine levels are actually significantly lower in patients with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease than in people without those problems.
Physiological concentrations (20–30 mM) of l-carnosine in standard media prolong the in vitro lifespan of human fibroblast cells and reduce strongly the normal features of senescence (aging). L-carnosine clearly has been shown to improve the physical appearance of experimental animals, as well as produced beneficial effects both on behavioral parameters and average life span.
L-carnosine may be effective for age-related conditions, including 1) neurological degeneration, 2) cellular senescence, 3) Cross-linking of skin collagen and/or the eye lens, 4) Accumulation of damaged proteins, 5) muscle atrophy, 6) brain circulation deficit, 7) LDL cholesterol oxidation, 8) DNA chromosome damage, and 9) formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). L-Carnosine is non-toxic and normally is obtained from meats in the diet.
What is so exciting about carnosine is not only its pronounced effects for anti-aging and its proven ability to improve brain heath, but also the fact that new benefits continue to be discovered. Jon Barron notes in his article regarding the the health benefits of carnosine that “more recent studies have shown that carnosine levels are actually significantly lower in patients with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease than in people without those problems.”
Barron also discusses other recent studies are showing that carnosine exerts beneficial effects for blood sugar control, wound healing, protects against the side effects of chemotherapy, and protects against alcohol induced liver damage.
Barron also points out that recent studies also show that carnosine offers additional protections for the brain, including reducing oxidative and glycemic stress, reduction of inflammation in brain tissue, reducing beta-amyloid plaques, as well as supporting detoxification of heavy metals from brain tissue.
Ginkgo biloba is an effective herbal remedy for boosting circulation, improving memory, concentration, and cognition. High-quality standardized extracts of ginkgo are prepared from the leaves of the ginkgo tree.
Ginkgo trees are considered living fossils because the modern ginkgo is recognizably related to actual ginkgo fossils dating to 270 million years ago in the Permian period. Members of the ginkgo family appeared in the early Jurassic and spread widely during prehistoric periods. By the end of the Pliocene, ginkgo disappeared from the fossil record except in a small region of central China, where the modern species survived. Therefore, the modern ginkgo is a unique species with no close relatives remaining.
Ginkgo trees are noted for survivability and tenacity. Although native to China, they are widely cultivated and planted throughout the world, including the Americas. They adapt well to urban environments, tolerating pollution and confined spaces. They are resistant to disease and insect attacks. Notably, ginkgo trees were one of the few living things to survive the nuclear blasts at Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. The charred ginkgo trees soon became healthy again, and they are still alive today.
Extracts of ginkgo leaves contain flavonoid glycosides (myricetin and quercetin) and terpenoids (ginkgolides, bilobalides), which exhibit reversible, nonselective monoamine oxidase inhibition, as well as inhibition of reuptake at the serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine transporters. Ginkgo extract is known to act as a selective 5-HT1A receptor agonist in vivo.
Notable constituents include terpene trilactones, i.e., ginkgolides A, B, C, J, and bilobalide, as well as flavonol glycosides, biflavones, proanthocyanidins, alkylphenols, simple phenolic acids, 6-hydroxykynurenic acid, 4-O-methylpyridoxine and polyprenols.
Extensive study and testing of ginkgo biloba has revealed several effective therapeutic and preventive applications for this botanical.
Ginkgo biloba has been shown to act as a memory enhancer both in normal adults, as well as in those with cerebral insufficiency. It can be effective against cerebral aging, and has been shown to be an effective nutritional supplement in psychological and behavioral disorders of the elderly, and in cognitive disorders secondary to depression. The free radical scavenging effects of ginkgo biloba protect lipid membranes against peroxidation.
Ginkgo biloba has been shown to increase peripheral microcirculation, and may be a useful adjunct in protocols for treating edema, including cerebral edema. Research has shown that ginkgo biloba supplementation may be helpful for normalizing the vascular system. It may be a useful adjunct in protocols for the congestive symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and has been shown to be an effective supplement for functional disorders of ischemic origin in the ear, nose, throat, and eyes.
Ginkgo biloba exhibits strong platelet activation factor inhibition, and those with diabetic retinopathy have shown a positive response to ginkgo biloba. Individuals with disequilibrium disorders have shown a remarkable response to ginkgo biloba supplementation. A study of persons experiencing arterial erectile dysfunction showed significant benefit from long-term ginkgo biloba supplementation.
Note: Several recent studies have called the effectiveness of ginkgo biloba into question and/or presented it as potentially toxic. However, these studies have been shown to exhibit significant flaws. Moreover, high-quality ginkgo extracts are derived naturally from ginkgo leaves and are standardized for potency. Preparations of ginkgo leaf have been used safely and effectively for thousands of years in China, Korea, and Japan.
Glutathione is one of the most important (and most powerful) antioxidants in the body. It therefore supports many bodily functions, and indeed life itself. In various conditions and health issues, the need for glutathione increases and/or glutathione status is reduced, leading to greater needs for it.
While it is uncommon to hear about glutathione use for Parkinson’s disease, it is clear that many symptoms of Parkinsonism can be significantly reduced using glutathione injections. Gluathione may also be taken orally in supplement form.
It is likely that glutathione will be used far more extensively for Parkinson’s patients simply because it works. Below is a video by Dr. David Perlmutter that demonstrates the remarkable action of glutathione on Parkinson’s patients.
NOTABLE BENEFITS OF GLUTATHIONE
Dr. Perlmutter notes the following observable effects of glutathione on Parkinson’s patients:
• Reduction of Rigidity
• Increase in Mobility
• Improved Ability to Speak
• Decreased Depression
• Reduction of Tremor
Here is another short video by Dr. David Perlmutter that demonstrates remarkable and immediate beneficial effects on a Parkinson’s patient who was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.
It appears that the effects of a single glutathione injection can last weeks, perhaps six to eight weeks or longer. The time between injections may vary between individuals. Time required between injections may also depend upon exposure to chemicals and other substances (during the intervening time) that place oxidative stress on the body. It would be expected that oxidative stress would accelerate the body’s need for glutathione and/or essentially “use up” the supply provided by an injection. Therefore, less oxidative stress (e.g., chemical exposure) after an injection could mean a longer time before another injection is required.
Glutathione is also available in supplemental form. HPDI offers GLU-NAC, a combination glutathione and n-acetyl-l-cysteine formula. When taken regularly, it supplements the body’s own production of glutathione.
OTHER SUPPLEMENTS & NUTRIENTS FOR PARKINSONISM
There are a few other supplements and nutrients in the HPDI protocol for Parkinson’s disease most of which are listed in the table below. These include ubiquinol, Prescript-Assist™ (soil-based organisms) (SBO), Hepa Plus (liver support), Vitamin D3, and Bone Guardian. An additional supplement that can be important with respect to detoxification is Intestinal Rejuvenation Formula, a unique cleansing formula that can remove toxins from the digestive tract.
BONE GUARDIAN AND VITAMIN D3 PLUS
It is important for Parkinson’s patients to maintain good bone health. There is much evidence to show that Parkinson’s patients have increased problems with bones and joints. Parkinson’s patients not only have more problems with fractures due to falls, but also have demonstrated lower bone mineral density. They have high a relatively high incidence of osteoporosis.
We therefore recommend both Bone Guardian (to provides nutrients necessary for bone health) and Vitamin D3 Plus, which offers support for the health of bones, joints, and connective tissues. In fact, a bone supplement like Bone Guardian works especially effectively when taken conjunction with a vitamin D3 formula.
Vitamin D3 also provides other significant benefits for health that will benefit patients with Parkinson’s disease, as well as those who wish to avoid and/or mitigate its development. For example, studies show that vitamin D3 helps avert cognitive decline, depression, and conditions of frailty.
Hepa Plus provides herbs and nutrients important for optimal liver support. The formula is especially designed to support detoxification (see discussion of detoxification above), which is necessary in order to remove toxins and to help keep the body free of excess toxins.
The liver is one of the primary organs of detoxification. As such, a healthy liver is essential for detoxifying pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, and chemicals like PCBs. When the liver’s health is compromised, then the body is far more vulnerable to the adverse effects of toxins, including toxins implicated in Parkinson’s disease.
Prescript-Assist™ is a is a next-generation combination of 29 probiotic microflora soil-based organisms (SBOs) uniquely combined with a humic/fulvic acid prebiotic that enhances SBO proliferation. Prescript-Assist’s microflora are Class-1 microecological units that are typical of those progressively found resident along the healthy human GI Tract.
With more than five years in clinical development and testing, Prescript-Assist™ remains one of the most effective probiotic supplements for restoring levels of gastrointestinal microflora compromised due to adverse effects from antibiotics, medication, poor diet, stress, and digestive abnormalities.
Benefits of Prescript-Assist™:
– Maintains Healthy GI-Tract MicroFloral Ecologies
– Promotes Normal Bowel Function
– Supports Gut Immune-System
– Assists in Stabilizing the Gut Mucosal Barrier
– Supports Normal Absorption and Assimilation of Nutrients in the Gut
A primary objective of probiotic therapy is to provide therapeutic resistance against pathogen colonization in the GI tract. Prescript-Assist is unique in this regard as its constituent microflora are representative of those found resident along the healthy human GI tract (versus most common probiotic products). Its beneficial/healthy microflora, coupled with a proprietary prebiotic, provide for robust maintenance/enhancement of gut microflora and resistance to pathogenesis.
Prescript-Assist’s microflora arguably contribute to better health in their in vitro and in vivo demonstrated abilities to produce vital nutritional components (antioxidants, enzymes, etc). Quite unlike most probiotics that incorporate easily degradable lactic acid based microorganisms, the utilization of SBOs in Prescript-Assist provides for a pH resistant (able to survive trip through the stomach) and shelf stable (does not need refrigeration) product.
One 600 mg capsule of Prescript-Assist contains a proprietary blend of Leonardite, and the following microorganisms: Anthrobacter agilis, Anthrobacter citreus, Anthrobacter globiformis, Anthrobacter luteus, Anthrobacter simplex, Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, Azotobacter chroococcum, Azotobacter paspali, Azospirillum brasiliense, Azospirillum lipoferum, Bacillus brevis, Bacillus marcerans, Bacillus pumilis, Bacillus polymyxa, Bacillus subtilis, Bacteroides lipolyticum, Bacteriodes succinogenes, Brevibacterium lipolyticum, Brevibacterium stationis, Kurtha zopfil, Myrothecium verrucaria, Pseudomonas calcis, Pseudomonas dentrificans, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas glathei, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Streptomyces fradiae, Streptomyces celluslosae, and Streptomyces griseoflavus.
Read more about Prescript-Assist. See my HPDI blog article “Prescript-Assist Broad Spectrum Priobiotic & Prebiotic” (April 2013).
Also, note that Intestinal Rejuvenation Formula can be useful in cleansing the digestive tract before re-populating it with probiotics (e.g., SBOs) when performing a cleanse of the liver, kidney, and/or digestive tract.
UBIQUINOL (REDUCED COENZYME Q10)
Ubiquinol (reduced coenzyme Q10) is a metabolic nutrient that supports production of energy (as ATP) in the body. As we age, we gradually lose our capacity to generate sufficient quantities of CoQ10. Supplementing with ubiquinol means that there is greater energy for metabolic processes.
The primary function of ubiquinol in the body is to allow the mitochondria to convert food metabolites from the digestive process into energy for the cell. This enzyme is normally produced by the body and is found in all cells. It is most abundant in the cells of the heart, liver, and the immune system.
Studies show that when essential levels of ubiquinol are allowed to decline, the body’s vital organs and systems cannot meet their energy requirements. The results are ill health and disease states. Advancing age causes the body gradually to lose its innate ability to convert dietary or supplemental CoQ10 to ubiquinol. In addition, improper nutrition and/or maldigestion can reduce the body’s ability to generate the needed amounts of ubiquinol.
Because it is fat soluble, ubiquinol is mobile in cell membranes where it plays a unique role in the electron transport chain that produces energy (ATP) in the body. In this process, ubiquinol functions as an electron carrier from enzyme complex I and enzyme complex II to complex III, a function no other molecule can perform. Thus, ubiquinol acts in every cell of the body to synthesize energy. Sufficient production of ATP is necessary to support all metabolic processes (and sustain life). ATP provides the energy required not only for proper metabolic functions, but also for optimal health and healing.
Ubiquinol is also an important fat-soluble antioxidant that can protect and regenerate Vitamin E in cell membranes. Ubiquinol also has been shown to stimulate the body’s immune system. Dosages in the range of 50–300 mg have been reported effective in cases of heart disease, fatigue, and immune deficiency.
Read more about HPDI Ubiquinol.
IODINE AND MAGNESIUM
We at HPDI generally recommend Nascent Iodine and magnesium chloride for various health conditions. This is especially because more than 95% of Americans are deficient in iodine (according to Dr. David Brownstein). Iodine is a metabolic nutrient that is critical for proper thyroid function, acts as a potent detoxifier, and performs many other functions in the body.
Estimates for deficiency rates for magnesium among American vary, but most scientists agree that deficiencies are common and may affect 75% of the population.
Dr. Mark Sircus presents evidence that magnesium is a major cerebral protective agent. He asserts:
“Magnesium offers significant cerebral protection with a high preservation effect on neurological function following brain injury or in healing chronic impaired dysfunction like in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.”
In Parkinson’s disease, the nerve cells in the brain that make dopamine are slowly destroyed. The nerve cells therefore cannot send messages without dopamine, which leads to loss of muscle function.
Dr. Sircus notes that continuous low magnesium intake induces exclusive loss of dopaminergic neurons in rats, and that magnesium exerts preventive and ameliorating effects in a rat Parkinson’s disease model involving 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) toxicity in dopaminergic neurons. He further finds that magnesium protects dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra from degeneration.
Magnesium offers significant cerebral protection with a high preservation effect on neurological function following brain injury or in healing chronic impaired dysfunction like in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Read Dr. Mark Sircus full article on Parkinson’s disease. Also, we present a complete discussion of our Magnesium Chloride Program (in part seven in our series of Rejuvenation Program articles on the HPDI blog).
TABLE 1. PARKISONISM PROTOCOL
|PRO-C™ (pc)andUltimate Protector™ (up)
|Each capsule contains 500 mg (pc) or 250 mg (up) of Vitamin C with synergistic nutrients such as antioxidants and Nrf2 activators.
|Ginkgo Biloba 60 mg
|Take with food. Improves blood flow in the brain.
|L-Carnosine 500 mg
|Take on an empty stomach upon arising. May be increased to 3 caps over time. Provides powerful brain protection.
|Mighty Multi-Vite! Caps
|Take with food. Provides most of the nutritional supplementation needed by the body.
|Ubiquinol-50 — 50 mg
|Take with food. Supports energy production in the body.
|Essential Fats Plus E — EPA/DHA/GLA
|Take with food. Provides needed essential fats in cell membranes.
|Each cap contains 250 mg of glutathione, 250 mg of N-Acetyl Cysteine, & 5 mg of Lipoic Acid. Take with food/snacks.
|Bone Guardian/Ca+Mg + other key nutrients
|Take with food. Helps to support bone density.
|Take 10-15 minutes before food. Enhances intestinal function.
|Rejuvenate! PLUS — high RNA formula
|Take with water or juice. Start with 1 scoop and slowly increase to 3 scoops as necessary. Supports detoxification and tissue regeneration.
|Hepa Plus — for liver support and detoxification
|Take with food. Contains milk thistle extract, lipoic acid, NAC, dandelion + other liver support nutrients.
Dietary considerations are very important for individuals dealing with parkinsonism, neurodegeneration, and even normal cognitive decline due to aging. Diet is a fundamental to the health of brain and body. It is just as important as detoxification and preventing toxicity, a complete program of foundational supplements, condition-specific supplements, commitment to health, and regular exercise.
HPDI generally recommends a balanced diet that emphasizes vegetables, lean meats (if one is not vegetarian), complex carbohydrates, variety, and whole foods grown organically and/or without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. This is the basis of the HPDI food program (see HPDI’s Master Rejuvenation Program). The importance of vegetables, including leafy greens, to the diet lies not only in the provision of important nutrients, but also in maintaining an alkaline pH in the body. An alkaline state helps maintain health, and prevents inflammation and acidosis, which is associated with degeneration and conditions of ill health.
We strongly suggest avoiding refined carbohydrates, processed foods, sugars, artificial sweeteners, genetically modified foods (GMOs), non-organic foods, preservatives, and artificial colorings and flavorings, and synthetic ingredients, including toxic food additives.
EXERCISE FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE & BRAIN HEALTH
Regular exercise can help maintain cognitive functions into advanced age. We recommend exercise for all age groups as part of HPDI’s Rejuvenation Program. Exercise assists the body in many ways (e.g., moves lymph, speeds detoxification, builds strength and endurance), and this includes supporting brain health. The brain benefits not only from increased circulation, but also from a range of beneficial neurochemicals, such as endorphins, produced naturally during exercise. Exercise is also proven to support brain plasticity.
Studies show significant benefits of exercise for Parkinson’s patients.
Important benefits obtained from certain types of exercise (like walking, tai chi, and yoga) are improved balance and leg strength. Building and sustaining balance and leg strength are especially important as we age because they can help prevent falls, which can result in head traumas.
A NOTE ON HEAD INJURIES
There are significant adverse effects from head injuries (including concussions) on brain health, including the development of neurodegenerative disease. Mounting evidence from athletes exposed to multiple head traumas, most notably professional football (NFL) players, professional boxers, and professional soccer players indicates a clear association between brain health and physical impacts to the head and neck.
While head trauma may not be a causal factor in Parkinson’s disease per se, it is yet another factor known to play a role in the development of neurodegenerative disease. In light of the mounting evidence, it is highly advisable to protect your head from impacts. The benefits of protecting the head and neck from injury extend well beyond decreasing the risk of parkinsonism. Indeed, such protections help guarantee a higher level of brain health throughout life.
Protecting your head from impacts at least includes wearing a high-quality safety helmet while riding a bicycle or motorcycle, or when entering “hard hat” areas. It also means wearing a seatbelt while in a motor vehicle whether seated in the front or the rear. Helmets or other protective headgear may not protect fully against all types of impacts, but they will certainly offer far greater protection from trauma, if an impact occurs. Many studies have proven the benefits of wearing safety helmets and seatbelts, for example.
Avoiding head trauma may also involve limitations placed on certain activities, especially extreme sports (e.g., skydiving) and contact sports (such as football, boxing, or martial arts) in which the known risks for head injuries are relatively high. There are plenty of physical activities in which the risk of head injuries is significantly lower than extreme or contact sports.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Dealing with Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism in general can seem overwhelmingly complex. Certainly, individuals who have been diagnosed with it and their families can often feel helpless in the face of a so-called “incurable” disease.
And for those who wish to avoid it or for those whose occupations (or home projects, gardening, hobbies, or proximity to agriculture) have led to exposures to pesticides, solvents, and other chemicals associated with Parkinsonism, the search for answers may seem to offer few clues regarding what can be done to protect oneself. Or there is a complete lack of knowledge from experts regarding effective actions to take.
Mounting evidence, however, suggests that a combination of factors can significantly act to help individuals avoid the development of Parkinsonism, mitigate the effects of contributing causes, as well as support the health (and brain health) of those who already exhibit the symptoms of the disease.
For those willing to entertain the possibilities, then the following steps so far are the most likely to succeed.
Steps to avoid or mitigate Parkinson’s disease & symptoms of parkinsonism:
1) Avoid exposure to pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, solvents (e.g., paint strippers), heavy metals, PCBs, and other toxic substances.
2) Take measures to detoxify your body on a regular basis. See the HPDI Rejuvenation Program and HPDI blog articles on detoxification for more information on detoxification and cleansing practices. Formulas such as Nascent Iodine, Hepa Plus, and Intestinal Rejuvenation Formula can help.
4) Take vitamin C at the level of 6–18 grams per day. See this month’s article on vitamin C by Dr. Hank Liers for more information on dosing. Vitamin C may also be obtained in the form of an antioxidant formula, such as Ultimate Protector™ or PRO-C.
5) Take essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) daily and/or consume adequate quantities of essential fats via diet. Essential fats support brain health.
6) Consume a superfood like Rejuvenate! (original greens or PLUS) that provides significant quantities of chlorella and dietary nucleic acids. There are five Rejuvenate! formulas from which to choose.
7) Use brain nutrients. These include l-carnosine, ginkgo biloba, glutathione, and Vitamin D3. These are just as important for brain health as are foundational nutrients (i.e., multivitamins, essential fats, and superfoods). For individuals with Parkinson’s disease, glutathione injections can provide significant benefits (see videos above).
8) Take a liver health formula such as Hepa Plus. As noted in #2 above, detoxify on a regular basis, if possible. (See the HPDI Rejuvenation Program and HPDI blog articles on detoxification.)
9) Take a soil-based organism (SBO) like Prescript-Assist, which is proven to be effective.
11) Take a ubiquinol (reduced coenzyme Q10) supplement in order to help maximize energy (ATP) production in the body.
12) Take Nascent Iodine. See discussion above. Also, see this month’s article “Nascent Iodine: Radiation Protector, Detoxifier & Health Booster.”
ADDITIONAL SOURCES AND RESOURCES
ARTICLES ON PARKINSON’S
Safer Chemicals Health Report: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases
(PCBs, heavy metals, etc.)
Homocysteine and Brain Health (Dr. David Perlmutter)
Parkinson’s Disease and the Bones (Swiss Med Weekly)
ARTICLES ON SUPPLEMENTS THAT SUPPORT PARKINSON’S
Homocysteine and Brain Health (Dr. David Perlmutter)
Parkinson’s Disease: Cannabinoids, Magnesium, and Iodine (Dr. Mark Sircus)
Carnosine: Exceeding Scientific Expectations (Life Extension)
Carnosine: A Proven Longevity Factor (Life Extension)
Carnosine: The Amazing Anti-Aging Nutrient (Smart Publications)
Carnosine, Still the Best for Anti-Aging (Jon Barron)
SELECTED ABSTRACTS AND STUDIES
Gianni Pezzoli, MD and Emanuele Cereda, MD, PhD. Exposure to Pesticides or Solvents and Risk of Parkinson Disease. Neurology. May 28, 2013 vol. 80, no. 22, 2035–2041.
Bandeen-Roche K, et al. Cumulative lead dose and cognitive function in older adults. Epidemiology 2009;20(6):831–839.
Coon S, et al. Whole-body lifetime 126 occupational lead exposure and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Environmental Health Perspectives 2006;114(12):1872–1876.
Lin, KC, et al. Neurocognitive changes among elderly exposed to PCBs/PCDFs in Taiwan. Environmental Health Perspectives 2008;116(2):184–189.
Steenland K, et al. Polychlorinated biphenyls and neurodegenerative disease mortality in an occupational cohort. Epidemiology 2006;17(1):8–13.
Schantz S, et al. Impairments of memory and learning in older adults exposed to polycholorinated biphenyls via consumption of Great Lakes fish. Environmental Health Perspectives 2001;108:605–611.
Seegal R, et al. Lightly chlorinated ortho-substituted PCB congeners decrease dopamine in nonhuman primate brain and in tissue culture. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 1990;106:136–144.
RELATED HPDI BLOG ARTICLES
Prescript-Assist™ Broad Spectrum Probiotic & Prebiotic – Fred Liers, PhD
Vitamin D for Health – Fred Liers
Liver Cleanse with Juice & Herbs – Fred Liers