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4 Effective Natural Remedies for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

06 April 2023

Key Points

  • Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition that affects the nervous system, leading to a decline in voluntary movement and motor functions. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can impact the body’s ability to perform everyday tasks such as speaking clearly, swallowing, walking, and sleeping, resulting in a loss of natural, fluid movements.
  • Living with Parkinson’s disease may present challenges, but some do-it-yourself home remedies can alleviate symptoms and make daily life much more manageable.
  • Research has been conducted over the years to explore the potential role of natural remedies in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
  • At present, medical cannabis is being explored as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease. However, there is still a need for conclusive evidence to fully understand its benefits, optimal dosages and formulations, potential side effects, and interactions with other medicines.

Many people with Parkinson’s disease show enthusiasm towards alternative remedies since these unconventional treatments often rely on practices that have existed for centuries.

Despite the lack of scientific data regarding their effectiveness in treating Parkinson’s disease, several individuals with the condition claim to derive benefits from alternative therapy, such as inducing relaxation and minimising stress and depression.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a medical condition that results in the degeneration of a part of the brain, leading to progressively severe symptoms over time. Although it is widely recognised for its impact on muscle control, balance and movement, Parkinson’s disease can also affect an individual’s senses, cognitive abilities and mental health. Its exact cause remains a mystery, but scientists have postulated that it is an amalgamation of genetic and environmental factors.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually develop slowly over several years, and the progression of symptoms can differ from one person to another, owing to the diversity of the disease. A typical symptom experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease is tremors. Meanwhile, sufferers may also experience sluggishness and lack of movement (known as bradykinesia and hypokinesia, respectively), limb stiffness (rigidity), as well as gait and balance issues (in other words, postural instability).

Apart from the movement-related symptoms, Parkinson’s disease can also cause symptoms unrelated to movement (“non-motor”). More specifically, non-motor symptoms can have as significant an impact on a patient’s quality of life as motor symptoms. To elaborate, examples of non-motor symptoms include depression, hallucinations, constipation, anxiety, apathy, orthostatic hypotension, loss of the sense of smell, sleep disorders and various cognitive impairments.

What Are Some of the Best Alternative Remedies to Better Manage Parkinson’s Disease?

Medical Cannabis

What Is Medical Cannabis?

Medical cannabis is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is believed to contain approximately 100 different compounds called cannabinoids. Medical cannabis is available in various forms and delivery methods, such as via using a spray under the tongue, taking tablets or consuming edibles. 

Its primary cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive drug that alters brain function. Intriguingly, THC may assist with pain, nausea and muscle spasms, but it also affects mental processes, consciousness, behaviour, mood and perception. On the other hand, cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most common cannabinoid, and it lacks psychoactive properties. Many people believe it may be useful in treating a wide range of ailments, such as chronic pain, depression, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. In 2018, a significant research project discovered that medical cannabis was helpful in treating some cancer-related symptoms, including chronic pain, sleep disturbances, and nausea. 

Generally speaking, THC and CBD are understood to be the primary agents responsible for the effects of cannabis, although their specific mechanisms of action are not entirely understood. The concentrations of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids vary between different strains of the plant. This variation, in turn, poses one of the challenges faced when clinically evaluating the effects of medical cannabis, both alone and in conjunction with other medications.

What Is the Role of Cannabinoid Receptors?

The human body produces cannabinoids naturally. These cannabinoids subsequently play a role in regulating numerous processes, such as sleep, mood and appetite, by binding to cannabinoid receptors located in the brain and body.

In essence, there are two primary types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, that activate a biological response within a cell once activated. In other words, they can be likened to a switch outside a cell. CB1 receptors, found in the brain, are activated by THC, which consequently produces the “high” feeling attributed to cannabis consumption. In the meantime, CB2 receptors that are primarily found in immune system cells and brain cells are thought to be linked to pain relief.

The basal ganglia area of the brain, where dopamine-producing neurons are situated and are known to play a role in the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, has a concentration of cannabinoid receptors. Therefore, researchers have suggested that medical cannabis, which binds to cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2 receptors, respectively, in a region of the brain so closely linked to Parkinson’s disease, may have a positive effect on the condition’s symptoms. On that note, there are currently many studies in progress to investigate this possibility.

Medical Cannabis and Its Relationship with Parkinson’s Disease

While medical cannabis has been historically used for various purposes, such as pain relief and improved sleep, there is still a limited amount of evidence concerning its efficacy and safety. Research has suggested that medical cannabis may possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective functions, which is of particular interest in Parkinson’s disease due to the loss of dopamine-producing neurons.

While anecdotal evidence and some clinical studies have proposed that medical cannabis might aid in alleviating Parkinson’s disease symptoms, results have been mixed and confusing. For example, studies using animal models suggest that medical cannabis could assist with movement symptoms like slowness, tremors and levodopa-induced dyskinesia, but studies into non-motor symptoms such as pain, depression, insomnia, anxiety, memory issues and hallucinations are still in progress. While some promising results have emerged, side effects are typical, and additional investigation is required prior to making any bold statements.

Not to mention, clinical studies into medical cannabis as a Parkinson’s disease treatment have been hindered by regulatory boundaries. Besides that, shortcomings such as the small number of participants and inconsistent concentrations of CBD and THC in different forms of medical cannabis consumables make it challenging to compare results fairly. With that in mind, further rigorous studies in large cohorts of patients are necessary to determine which symptoms medical cannabis can alleviate, suitable dosages, and safe administration methods. These, in turn, will help to circumvent potential risks such as substance addiction, a greater risk of lung or heart issues, as well as side effects like nausea, physical weakness, dizziness, and hallucinations.

On that note, Lyphe is the UK’s largest medical cannabis clinic and offers personalised treatment plans for a range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. A team of clinical experts is available to provide private care tailored to each patient’s needs. With that in mind, interested individuals with Parkinson’s disease can arrange for a private consultation with a specialist doctor via Lyphe’s website. During the consultation, patients can also learn more about the available treatment options for their specific conditions.

Herbal Medicine

What Is Considered Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine, also known as herbalism, is a type of complementary therapy that utilises plants or their extracts to prevent, treat or cure illnesses and promote general well-being. Practitioners of herbal medicine adopt a holistic approach to healthcare, seeking to treat the entire individual rather than merely the symptoms of a disease while also encouraging the body’s natural healing processes. Typically, herbalists would utilise the entire plant in their remedies, incorporating all of its various components, such as leaves, roots, stems, and seeds. This is because herbalists believe that the entire plant possesses a broader range of therapeutic benefits than any individual active ingredient, as is the case with conventional pharmaceutical medicines.

Furthermore, herbal remedies are widely available in different forms, such as capsules, ointments, drinks, tablets, and creams, and can be purchased at health food stores, supermarkets and pharmacies. However, caution is necessary when using these products as they have side effects, and regulatory standards vary from country to country. On top of that, the contents, dosage and manufacturing process of herbal medicine may not always be clear, thereby raising questions regarding safety.

Moreover, even widely-used remedies that are known to be effective for certain conditions may not be suitable for everyone. Hence, it is highly recommended that individuals who are interested in using herbal medicines seek the guidance of a trained herbalist or physician first before taking any other action.

How May Herbal Medicine Aid in Parkinson’s Disease Treatment?

The use of herbal medicine to treat Parkinson’s disease has not been extensively studied since ancient times. The ancient Ayurvedic Indian system incorporated a range of interventions, including herbal remedies.

One example of a popular herbal treatment that has been studied is the Mucuna plant, which contains levodopa – a key medication used to elevate dopamine levels in the brain and strengthen the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Various studies into the use of Mucuna plants have shown promising results, with some proposing that it may have benefits over established levodopa preparations in the long-term treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Nonetheless, more stringent clinical investigations are necessary.

Qualified herbal practitioners can recommend other remedies, such as nervine herbs to eliminate tremors or vascular dilators to relax stiff muscles. Other than that, certain herbs may also be effective in treating skin conditions. However, it is important to note that just because a treatment is natural does not mean it is risk-free. Some herbal remedies may generate undesirable side effects or even interfere with prescribed medications. Thus, it is recommended to always consult with a doctor before consuming any herbal medicines.

Acupuncture

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine where a therapist inserts sterile, disposable, ultra-fine metal needles into specific points on the patient’s body. It is commonly used for lessening pain and stiffness as well as relieving digestive ailments (e.g., constipation), sleep disturbances, depression and anxiety among individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, a form of energy referred to as “Qi” flows through the body via channels, which can become blocked due to various physical and emotional factors such as stress, infections, poor nutrition or trauma. This thereby leads to imbalances and illnesses. With that, by stimulating acupuncture points with needles, many acupuncturists believe that this practice can kindle nerves and muscles, release obstructions, re-establish energy flows and promote healing.

How Does Acupuncture Help with Managing Parkinson’s Disease?

Acupuncture has been found to lift energy levels, elevate appetite and mood, improve sleep, induce relaxation and promote a general sense of well-being. It has also been shown to lower stress levels by inducing the release of endorphins. The efficacy of acupuncture in alleviating pain has been well-documented and is recognised globally. As a matter of fact, a 1998 expert panel of the United States National Institutes of Health concluded that acupuncture is more efficacious and possesses lesser side effects for specific symptoms compared to common forms of treatments.

Ayurveda

What Is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a traditional Indian system of medicine that has been in use for more than 5,000 years. It is a holistic treatment approach that aims to treat the entire person, highlighting the utilisation of body, mind and spirit in both the deterrence and management of diseases. The all-inclusive strategy of Ayurveda promotes physical strength, better health, greater mental health, inner peace and a sense of calmness.

In general, Ayurvedic treatment comprises various treatments, including dietary and lifestyle changes, purification processes, herbal preparations, breathing techniques, massages, exercises, meditation, and spiritual guidance. Besides that, Ayurvedic practitioners believe that good health can be achieved by striking an equilibrium between three fundamental bodily humors, known as ‘doshas’, namely vata, pitta, and kapha. Each dosha has certain characteristics, and our unique dosha composition is dependent on that of our parents when we were born. If they become imbalanced, this will consequently have an adverse impact on our behaviour and health.

How Does Ayurveda Assist Parkinson’s Disease Patients?

In essence, the advantages of Ayurveda in treating Parkinson’s disease have been under-researched, and only a few minor studies have been conducted to determine whether this form of treatment can alleviate symptoms of the disease. Nevertheless, further research is required to establish a clear link between Ayurvedic practices and the alleviation of Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

Regardless, Ayurvedic treatment seeks to restore a balance of the three doshas – vata, pitta, and kapha – in order to bring about harmony and well-being in the mind, body, and soul of the patient.

Concluding Thoughts

Even though prescription treatments are widely used to lighten symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, certain natural remedies may also be beneficial. However, it is important to always consult a trusted doctor before attempting any form of alternative therapy. Depending on how Parkinson’s disease affects an individual, certain techniques may not be appropriate, and specific herbal medicines may have adverse interactions with the prescribed medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative condition that primarily targets the dopamine-producing neurons, also known as dopaminergic neurons, within a particular region of the brain known as the substantia nigra.

What is medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, refers to products made from the Cannabis sativa plant that are used to alleviate symptoms caused by certain medical conditions. Cannabis sativa contains various active compounds, with delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) being the most well-known.

Can medicinal cannabis help with managing Parkinson’s disease?

Medical professionals are exploring the potential use of medical cannabis as a treatment for numerous medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. Despite this growing attention, there is currently no definitive scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of medical cannabis in treating Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, ongoing research is needed to comprehend its potential benefits and risks fully.

References

https://www.ejinme.com/article/S0953-6205(18)30023-2/fulltext

https://www.parkinsonseurope.org/latest/research/effects-of-acute-cannabidiol-administration-on-anxiety-and-tremors-induced-by-a-simulated-public-speaking-test-in-patients-with-parkinsons-disease/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6682376/ 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jcpt.12179

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24614667/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24778283/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1755-5949.2010.00195.x

https://www.michaeljfox.org/news/medical-marijuana-and-parkinsons-disease-new-resources

https://www.apdaparkinson.org/article/medical-marijuana-and-parkinsons-disease/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5390418/

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/crinm/2014/953109/

https://www.parkinsonseurope.org/latest/research/randomized-controlled-trial-of-acupuncture-for-fatigue-in-parkinson-s-disease/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2005290117300018

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2018.00596/full 

Author: Alex
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Alex Frost, Marketing Manager at Lyphe Group, brings a diverse and creative background to his role. Prior to joining Lyphe, he spent five years as a freelance illustrator, where he not only honed his artistic and conceptual skills but also demonstrated his prowess in digital marketing. This hands-on experience provided him with valuable insights and a deep understanding of the intricacies of digital marketing and social media algorithms. Alex's marketing journey kicked off at The Sports Trust, where he managed large-scale events and marketing. At Lyphe Group, Alex applies this wealth of diverse experience to innovate and shape the narrative in cannabis marketing. His blend of artistic creativity, digital marketing acumen, and a literary foundation make him a dynamic force in the ever-evolving landscape of cannabis branding and promotion.

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