Parkinson's Disease Update

Parkinson's Disease Update

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation at, Parkinson’s disease is “a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately the dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra.”

This disease has many different potential symptoms, and it really is a different manifestation of symptoms on an individual basis. That’s just one reason it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you might have about your mental or physical health.

In these studies, nutrients like pycnogenol, NAC, and vitamin D show some promise in supporting some of the nutritional needs of Parkinson’s sufferers.

Pycnogenol reduced symptoms in Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects nerve cells in the brain that control movement, memory, and thinking. Normally, these cells produce dopamine, a chemical messenger that sends movement signals to the body. PD impairs these cells, reducing dopamine. In this study, 43 people with mild, slow-progressing PD for at least one year continued to take the standard PD treatments carbidopa-levodopa, with or without 150 mg of Pycnogenol® per day.

After four weeks, those in the Pycnogenol group had significantly better motor control of body movements, more stable posture, and improved cognitive function compared to those not taking Pycnogenol.

A common symptom in the group was fluid retention and swelling in the extremities, called edema. By the end of the study, 14 percent of those not taking Pycnogenol were free from edema compared to 81 percent of those taking Pycnogenol.

Reference: Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences; January, 2020, Published Online

Two nutrients ease a variety of symptoms in Parkinson’s disease

NAC boosts dopamine

Nerve cells (neurons) in the brain need the chemical messenger, dopamine, to properly activate the body and brain. In Parkinson’s disease (PD), neurons that produce dopamine break down or die. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) plays a role in improving dopamine function.

A smaller, earlier study demonstrated NAC boosted dopamine in the area of the brain damaged by PD. In this next phase, 42 men and women with PD got daily intravenous injections of 23 mg of NAC per pound of body weight, or on alternate days, tablets containing 1,200 mg of NAC; while others got no NAC.

After three months, while those not receiving NAC had not changed, those in the NAC groups saw up to an 8.3 percent increase in a protein that recycles dopamine after it is released in the brain, as well as fewer symptoms such as tremors, slow movement, rigidity, and disturbed mood.

Reference: Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics; 2019, Vol. 106, No. 4, 884-90

Low vitamin D in Parkinson’s

Studies of vitamin D and Parkinson’s disease (PD) have had inconsistent results. In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 182 people with PD compared to 185 healthy people.

On average, those with PD had vitamin D levels 13 percent lower than healthy people, with 69 percent falling below 50 nanomoles per liter of blood, the level doctors consider sufficient. Also, those with lower vitamin D were more likely to fall, to have difficulty getting and staying asleep, and more symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Reference: Acta Neurologica Scandinavica; 2019, Vol. 140, No. 4, 13141

BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, take prescription or over-the-counter medications, or are planning on having surgery.

Article Copyright 2022 by Nutritional Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

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