Parkinson's Disease


Parkinson’s Society Awareness and Appeal Week is this first week in November 1-7 2015.

I have lost a family member to Parkinson's and so have seen it first hand and it wasn’t pretty. I watched my mother progress through worsening symptoms with nothing but a couple of bottles of pills – to help control the symptoms – but with a whole set of other side effects.

Since then I have had the privilege of talking to the Parkinson’s Society in Auckland and also the joy of working with Parkinson’s sufferers, and assisting them to take back some control of their disease and their own treatment – using correct nutrition, herbs and lifestyle adjustments.

WHAT IS PARKINSONSsubstantia nigra

Parkinson Disease is a progressive brain disorder involving degeneration of the neurons of the substantia nigra (mid brain) – seen in the pic. This causes a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain, which travel between neurons passing on messages.  

While it is believed to be idiopathic, (cause unknown), age and genetics are known contributors.
However from a naturopathic viewpoint - environmental influences are also strong contenders. Toxins can cause oxidative damage to the neurons.

This pic is an example of how oxidation can damage the cells of an apple (top) and the cells of the body (body).


Normal Oxidation



 When food is converted to energy during normal metabolism, some oxidation occurs normally. This produces free radicals – which have an uneven number of electrons. To stabilize themselves they ‘steal’ an electron from an ‘anti’ oxidant to even up their electron numbers.

We’ve all heard of the health benefits of antioxidants. This is how they work. But if there are not enough antioxidants in the body (from a healthy diet and lifestyle) then everyday activities can create free radical damage and oxidation.

These little beastiescan also be produced during over exposure to sunlight, trauma, injury, pollution, toxins, alcohol, cigarette smoking, and processed consumables (called ‘food’).


  • Tremor and rigidity
  • Bradykinesia (slowness of movement)
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Insomnia
  • Facial expression changes
  • Dry or oily skin and impaired senses


Levodopa and carbidopa are the drugs of choice.

Levodopa passes through the blood brain barrier where it converts to dopamine, while Carbidopa stays busy supporting levodopa by preventing it from breaking down, before it reaches its target. It also helps reduce the side effects of levodopa - which include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain and heart problems.

This is all well and good but unfortunately these medications are known to lose their effectiveness over time, and they don’t repair any neuron damage or get to the cause of the problem.


From a naturopathic point of view – the cause of the condition in each individual needs a good serious look at – because it will be different in different people. It will be a mixture of genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors. As already pointed out – whatever the cause – it will result in oxidative damage. So treatment involves first finding and eliminating the cause, thereby reducing the oxidative stress, and doing some running repairs – using a broad spectrum approach involving nutrition, herbs and lifestyle changes.


Easy tip:

  •  Eat antioxidant rich foods every day including: most berries such as blueberries, strawberries, cranberry, blackberry, raspberry, walnuts and pecans, prunes and plums, apples, cloves, cacao and cinnamon. 

I have seen people respond really well, improve their balance and gain vitality from:

-          A good exercise and stretching regime

-          ‘Specific ‘massage  and other body treatments for that particular individual

-          Antioxidant rich foods including spices

-          Antioxidant rich herbal formulas

-          Cognition enhancing and neuro protective herbal formulas – to support and modulate brain cell health

Please contact me if you need help with any of the above treatment options or you would like a personalised plan drawn up.