Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Parkinson's disease is a chronic disorder typically affecting people over age 55. The condition is caused by the death of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain, leading to characteristic problems with movement. These include a "pill rolling" tremor in the hands (so called because it appears that the individual is rolling a small object between thumb and forefinger), difficulty initiating walking, a shuffling gait, decreased facial expressiveness, and trouble talking. Thinking ability may become impaired in later stages of the disease, and depression is common.
Although the underlying cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown, many researchers believe that free radicals may play a role in destroying at least some of the nerve cells.
The nerve cells that are affected in Parkinson's disease work by supplying the neurotransmitter dopamine to another part of the brain. Most treatments for Parkinson's disease work by artificially increasing the brain's dopamine levels. Simply taking dopamine pills won't work, however, because the substance cannot travel from the bloodstream into the brain. Instead, most people with Parkinson's disease take levodopa (L-dopa), which can pass into the brain and be converted there into dopamine. Many people take levodopa with carbidopa, a drug that increases the amount of levodopa available to make dopamine.
At first, levodopa produces dramatic improvement in symptoms; however, over time, levodopa becomes less effective and more likely to produce side effects. Other drugs may be useful as well, including bromocriptine, trihexyphenidyl, entacapone, tolcapone, selegiline, and pergolide. There are also surgical treatments that can decrease symptoms, such as pallidotomy and deep brain stimulation.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Even though 50% of the participants were taking only half their usual dose of levodopa, both groups scored equally well on standardized tests designed to evaluate the severity of Parkinson's disease symptoms.
Coenzyme Q 10
The supplement coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ 10 ) been widely advertised as effective for treating Parkinson's disease. However, there is only minimal evidence that it works, and some evidence that it does not.
A study published in 2002 raised hopes that CoQ 10 might help slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. In this 16-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 80 people with Parkinson’s disease were given either CoQ 10 (at a dose of 300 mg, 600 mg, or 1,200 mg daily) or placebo. 44 Participants in this trial had early stages of the disease and did not yet need medication. The results appeared to suggest that the supplement, especially at the highest dose, might have slowed disease progression. However, for a variety of statistical reasons, the results were, in fact, quite inconclusive.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full CoQ 10 article.
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Several other natural products have been studied for preventing or treating Parkinson’s disease, with mixed results.
The bottom line: If you have Parkinson's disease, it's safest to use SAMe—if at all—only under the supervision of a physician.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full SAMe article.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Phosphatidylserine article.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Vitamin E article.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Vitamin C article.
As noted above, SAMe could conceivably impair the effectiveness of levodopa.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -