Risk factors of Parkinson's Disease include an unhappy bowel and certain toxins, most of which are still unknown.
Parkinson's Disease was originally thought to be just a head disorder in which the cells in a nucleus called the Substantia Nigra die; they are a part of the basal ganglia that connect to many parts of the brain.
Cells that produce two important neurotransmitters called dopamine and norepinephrine are affected.
Any surviving cells in the Substantia Nigra are affected by a toxic protein called alpha-synuclein from mutations caused by oxidative stress of the genes.
However it has now been clearly shown that many of these neurotransmitters are also synthesised by both the cells lining the intestines and the friendly bugs in the microbiome. Following what is being called the gut-brain axis they also have a profound influence on mood, movement and degenerative changes in the basal ganglia and other cells.
Thus Parkinson's Disease is in many ways not dissimilar to the other great neurodegenerative condition; what is happening in the gut is vitally important.
Alzheimer's Disease, of course is the other.
Braak's hypothesis is that a pathogen such a herbicide initiates Lewy Pathology when it reaches the intestine. A diminished microbiota leads to a leaky gut and inflammation; releasing the toxic alpha-synuclein protein which spreads via the vagus nerve to the brain.
A balanced colony of friendly bacteria, viruses and yeast cells that colonise the gut mucosa are also able to synthesise dopamine; and the other catacholamines like norepinephrine.
Any deficiency of these neurotransmitters affects the normal functioning of the gut.
Gastroparesis means weaker than normal contractions of the muscles of the stomach; it is usually caused by loss of nerve stimulation. The Odds Ratio is 4.6 times more likely in those suffering from Parkinson's Disease.
This may occur in diabetes and in conditions like Parkinson's Disease where there is decreased dopamine, and hence its derivative norepinephrine.
Common symptoms are indigestion, acid reflux and even vomiting.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is four times more likely.
Constipation is 3.3 times more likely in those suffering from PD.
Dopamine is the precursor of norepinephrine that stimulates gut motility.
The greatest risk factor is an environmental toxin that targets the dopamine-producing cells in the Substantia Nigra.
Herbicides, certain pharmaceuticals and food additives all come under the spotlight.
Nitrites added to processed meat have been strongly fingered in research.
Two herbicides have been strongly fingered to cause the oxidative stress leading to genetic mutations and Parkinson's Disease.
Rotenone is supposedly a natural compound that is used in lakes and reservoirs to kill fish that are perceived as pests; it gets into our drinking water.
Paraquat is used to kill weeds and dry off potato haulms just before harvesting. Residues are left in the food we eat.
Some antipsychotics used for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolarism and depression for example, block the dopamine receptors; they may cause the signs and symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
A Japanese study found that those eating foods with large quantities of beta-carotenes had 56% protection compared to those eating the smallest amounts.
Beta-carotene is the precursor of vitamin A.
Parkinson's Disease causes tremors, tightness of the muscles and loss of balance. As dopamine levels decrease so do the normal bowel movements.
The weakness of skeletal muscles causes the trunk to lean forwards; to compensate those suffering from PD tend to take quick, short steps known as festination to keep their balance. They are more likely to suffer from back pain.
Few things are more scary than the start of an uncontrollable, resting tremor in the hand when you are still in your forties; and the neurologist says it could turn into Parkinson's Disease.
Severe constipation had always been a problem, even since childhood but not many years after the tremor started, I began to get severe acid reflux. Several nights a week I would have to sit up in bed groaning and could only sleep on my left side.
There were mental changes too. I could no longer find a tool, book or spectacles even though they were right in front of me, under my eyes. I had difficulty noting the details of what people were saying. Once when soaring I could not see the airfield even though it was right beneath me; I gave up flying.
There was no formal diagnosis of PD; but looking back I can see it was part of a pattern of change in my brain and body.
Am I cured? No, of course not, but my tremor and gut issues are well under control.
Risk factors of Parkinson's Disease cover the many toxins we are exposed to from our food and the environment.
I have never been formerly diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease though, looking back, many of the signs and symptoms were starting. Still today I can only drink soup or porridge using a large spoon; otherwise there is an embarrassing spillage.
Quite independently I starting making certain changes that clearly have benefited in any case and may have slowed the progression of the disease. Growing enough favas so that I could freeze them and have five beans every single day greatly contributed to reducing the tremor in my right hand.
Making my own kefir daily at home contributed enormously to the epigastric pain; but I still feel nauseous and vomit occasionally at night. A change from commercial beer to homemade mead has helped; it's a natural probiotic.
We grow most of our own food and bake our own bread from freshly-ground wholemeal; and buy much of our dairy and meat from an organic farmers' market. I enjoy bacon, preserved with nitrites only on "high and holy days."
Actually without even knowing it, I intuitively began to deal with the risk factors of Parkinson's Disease.
Dealing with the risk factors of Parkinson's Disease has been one of the greatest journeys of my life; it's been fun and the hard work endured. I have recently embarked on my 76th orbit of the sun; and still take no pharmaceutical L-dopa or any other medication.
Broad beans are the only known source of pharmaceutical levels of the phytonutrient.
Unashamedly I am a disciple of Hippocrates.
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