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What Supplements Should I Take if I have Parkinson's?

Jun 7, 2008
Below is a question asked by a man who has Parkinson's. My answer to his question follows.

"I am currently on a regimen of Staleevo, Azilect and CoQ10. My major problems are balance, muscle weakness (mostly left sided), worsening manual dexterity and some cognitive deterioration (including short-term memory problems)."

"Are there any supplements to add or anything else I should be doing to help slow progression or reverse symptoms?"

The four parts to my response are summarized below:

1. When you take more than two prescription medications and/or supplements there is always the chance of a drug/supplement interaction.

2. Supplements may not help people with Parkinson's because their digestive systems do not work properly.

3. An alternative to taking supplements is to have a nutritional IV. This therapy involves infusing vitamins and minerals directly into the blood stream, by passing the digestive system altogether.

4. Pay very close attention to what you eat. What we put into our bodies has a much more significant impact on how we feel than anything else we can do.

Every one's situation is unique. I may have a deficiency in magnesium today. You may have a deficiency in calcium. The critical issue turns on how you can determine what your body needs, not what my body needs.

One alternative that works for some people is to ask your doctor to run a set of lab tests to determine if any deficiencies exist. You will then have an idea of what foods to eat and what supplements you should be taking.

The downside of this alternative is that it is very expensive and the results are only applicable for the present. Needs of your body are always changing, so what your body needs today may shift by tomorrow. Our bodies are in a constant flux of change.

A second alternative is to give your body the basic vitamins and minerals that it needs to maintain balance and vitality. It is a good idea to take a multi-vitamin supplement as we age. There are also super anti-oxidants foods and vitamins that help the body maintain hormonal balance (e.g.: vitamin B6, B12, folic acid, amino acids, fish oil, etc. etc.)

Keep in mind that I am not a medical doctor - I am a researcher. This means I am not qualified to offer advice about what you should or should not take.

The downside of a decision to take supplements that one expert or another suggests is this. There may be adverse reactions with taking supplements and the prescription medications conjointly. It is not necessarily a good idea to pour one supplement after another into your body without taking into consideration the consequences.

People with the symptoms of Parkinsons often feel lousy because their medications are working against one another. Randy Mentzer, a certified nutritionist from Olympia, Washington tells me that there is a chance of problems if a person is taking two prescription medications. He also tells me that there is a 100% chance of adverse interactions if you are taking five or more medications.

Any prescription drug may be perfectly safe and useful when used alone. But when combined with a second drug, the same drug can create horrible problems for a person.

I believe that a good step to take on the road to recovery is to request a thorough investigation of any potential interactions that may be coexistent with the medications and supplements you currently take. Why not ask a certified clinical nutritionist for a full evaluation if your are taking two or more prescription medications?

Certified nutritionists are knowledgable about drug interactions and thus are in the best position to recommend alternatives if any problems with drug interactions are identified. After a thorough review of your medical history including all medications you take they will offer recommendations that you can take to your doctor for further review and discussion.

So, let's say that you have checked out the medications that you are currently taking and have resolved any issues and problems that have been identified. Perhaps you reduced doses or switched medications at the recommendation of your doctor. Or, perhaps what you are taking now is not creating any problems.

You now decide to bite the bullet and take a handful of vitamins and supplements every day that one expert or another says should offer you relief from the symptoms of Parkinson's. You spend $300. You take these supplements for a month.

To your grave disappointment, there is no improvement. You do not feel worse but you certainly do not feel any better.

What is happening here? Might you just as well have poured the $300 down your kitchen sink? The answer to this question may be yes! Supplements often do not help people with Parkinson's because their digestive systems have shut down.

I of course have no idea if digestion is a problem for you. You do not mention digestion as a problem in your list of symptoms. I do know that digestion is a problem for many people as they age and for many people with Parkinson's.

For example, when we eat wheat, the walls of our intestines gradually become crusty with a cement like paste. Nutrients pass through the entire digestive track without being absorbed. They are discharged from the body in tack - literally.

Many people have colons that are plugged up with undigested food. John Wayne, the actor, had 50 pounds of undigested food in his colon on the day of his death. It is no wonder that all of the systems in his body began to shut down.

A second step on the road to recovery is to assess the health of your digestive system to determine if any blockages exist. Excellent alternatives exist on ways to detox and clean out your digestive system if blockages are present.

Naturopaths are skilled at being able to help you detox your digestive system. Colon therapists are trained to clear out the debris and pathogens that may have been residing in your colon since you were 12 (or 20 or 30 or...). There are nationally certified programs that train people to do a colon cleansing safely and effectively.

Depending on the therapy you choose, it can potentially take months to get your digestive system back on track. What do you do in the meantime? How do you help yourself feel better now?

An alternative is to bypass the digestive system altogether by having a doctor or naturopath administer nutritional IV's. This therapy involves the infusion of vitamins and minerals directly into the blood stream through an IV.

With Nutritional IV's you are mainlining the nutrients directly into the blood stream. The digestive system is by passed, so it does not matter if it is not working properly. Nutritional IV's should be done only to jump start the systems in the body so that you can begin to feel better quickly. The idea is to get your body back on track so it can do the work it knows how to do so well: Keep your hormones in balance and your spirits high.

Do not plan to receive nutritional IV's for long. They are simply a way to help you feel better quickly so that you have the energy needed to heal.

There are many experienced and highly qualified doctors (MD's and naturopaths) who administer nutritional IV's to patients. If you choose this path it is important to find someone who is certified, experienced and equipped to administer nutritional IV's in a sterilized environment.

What we put into our bodies has a more significant impact on how we feel than anything else we can do for ourselves.

My final comment in response to your question is perhaps the most important. The best thing you can do to feel better is to maintain vigilance on what you eat and drink. What we eat has everything to do with how we feel.

To illustrate my point use your mind's eye to draw a large circle. The circle represents the sum total of everything you can do for yourself to feel better (exercise, laughter, mind challenges, stress and trauma release - you name it). Now place a dot inside the circle. The dot represents the contribution supplements typically make to helping people get relief from their symptoms.

The far more significant factor is the food we put into our bodies. Good nutrition thus consumes a huge chunk of this circle. The difference is stark.

All things considered, the best thing you can do for yourself to get relief from the symptoms of Parkinson's is to be mindful of what you put into your body.

Eat well and I promise that you will feel better soon.
About the Author
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D. maintains a clearinghouse of information for people with Parkinsons interested in finding ways to get relief from their symptoms using natural methods
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