About This Condition
Parkinson’s disease results from progressive damage to the nerves in the area of the brain responsible for controlling muscle tone and movement. The damaged cells are those needed to produce a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain) called dopamine, so people with Parkinson’s disease manufacture inadequate amounts of dopamine.
Parkinson’s disease occurs primarily, but not exclusively, in the elderly. Parkinson-like symptoms can also be caused by prescription and illicit drugs.
Symptoms include a fixed facial expression, wide-eyed stare with infrequent blinking, fluttering of the eyelids, drooling, illegible handwriting, monotone voice, and rhythmic movement of the fingers, hand, foot, or arm when at rest. People with Parkinson’s disease often have difficulty getting out of bed or a soft chair, and may tend to stand stooped over and walk leaning forward with limited arm-swing and small, shuffling steps. Depression and decreased mental functioning are also common symptoms in advanced stages.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
People with Parkinson’s disease are at higher than normal risk for osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency. Regular weight-bearing exercise, exposure to sunlight, and a variety of supplements and dietary changes may be helpful in preventing osteoporosis.
A twice-weekly, 14-week program of intensive exercise has been shown to significantly improve the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.1Athletic training included resistance exercises in water to increase strength, as well as exercises increasing flexibility and balance.
There is substantial preliminary evidence that exposure to certain organochlorine insecticides (e.g., lindane [Kwell®, Kildane®, Scabene®] and dieldrin [Dieldrite]) may contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease.2, 3, 4 In California, death from Parkinson’s disease increased by about 40% in all Californian counties reporting use of restricted agricultural pesticides since the 1970s compared with those reporting none.5 Avoiding contact with pesticides and pesticide residues may be an important preventive measure for Parkinson’s and other diseases. Interestingly, consumption of the fat substitute olestra appears to increase elimination of certain organochlorine pesticides in the feces.6, 7 However, no scientific studies have tested olestra as a possible treatment or preventive measure against Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, since olestra consumption may be associated with other health risks, such as depletion of beta-carotene, people with Parkinson’s should consult with their doctor before consuming products containing olestra.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.