Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease
A Naturopathic Approach: Helping to Manage Chronic Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are becoming increasingly more common in our modern world. The risk factors for both diseases include advancing age, genetics and family history, exposure to certain toxins and heavy metals, and chronic dietary and lifestyle habits.
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress have been associated with the onset of both disorders. AD involves the deposition of beta-amyloid (a protein) in the brain with consequent plaque formation and generation of neurofibrillary tangles. These processes ultimately lead to a loss of neurons, or brain cells, as well as an inhibition of normal acetylcholine functioning in the brain which is important for transmitting messages in between neurons. In PD, degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta of the brain leads to a decrease in dopamine production. Dopamine is a critical signaling neurotransmitter, and it’s deficiency is responsible for a person’s reduced ability to have smooth coordinated muscle movements.
Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are chronic progressive neurodegenerative disorders that increase in prevalence with age. Alzheimer’s disease, also referred to as Alzheimer’s dementia, affects around 5% of the population who are below age 70; after 80 years of age, however, the prevalence increases to 30%. AD is the most common form of dementia worldwide. Although occurring much less frequently than AD, Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders. It is estimated that PD affects 329 per 100,000 people in the United States, and has a mean age of onset of around 65 years. Both disorders have an insidious onset with a progressive and usually slow decline.
Common signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Memory loss, getting lost
- Misplacing items, difficulty in naming objects and people
- Decline in activities of daily living
- Personality and mood changes
- Difficulty in performing complex tasks requiring organization and planning
Common signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:
- Resting tremor
- Bradykinesia – slowness of movements
- Postural instability, imbalance, and incoordination
- Stooped posture
- Shuffling gait
- Decrease in amplitude of handwriting
- Reduction in volume of voice
Oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction are the major contributors to cell death in most neurodegenerative diseases including AD and PD. In fact, a decrease in the concentration of glutathione, the brain’s primary and most potent antioxidant, is the earliest reported biochemical event to occur in the substantia nigra in people with Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, neither AD nor PD are curable, but research is growing that elucidates the onset and progression of both of these insidious diseases can be slowed and even halted in many instances.
Pharmaceutical intervention is often beneficial and necessary in mollifying the debilitating symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, but often only has a short window of efficacy, as in the use of levodopa for PD.
What benefits can Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease patients gain from Naturopathic care?
Naturopathic physicians are adept in the concomitant treatment of neurodegenerative disorders by combating chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as by maximizing mitochondrial function. At RenŪ Progressive Medicine, Dr. Todd Pendell offers a wide variety of treatments that aid in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress while improving mitochondrial function including nutrient IV and glutathione injections, nutritional supplementation, and dietary and lifestyle modifications.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Dr. Todd Pendell