Michael Edson, MS, LAc is a co-founder and president of Natural Eye Care, Inc. He is co-author of Natural Eye Care: A Comprehensive Manual for Practitioners of Oriental Medicine and Natural Eye Care: Your Guide to Healthy Vision and Healing. His latest book is Natural Parkinson’s Support: Your Guide to Preventing & Managing Parkinson’s. His upcoming book, Natural Brain Support: Ways to Help Prevent and Treat Dementia and Alzheimer’s Naturally will be published in 2020.
Q: What was your motivation behind writing Natural Parkinson’s Support?
A: My wife’s grandfather passed away from Parkinson’s disease, and this book is a natural outgrowth of the extensive research on antioxidants, diet, lifestyle and alternative modalities I did on our comprehensive book, Natural Eye Care: Your Guide to Healthy Vision and Healing, as many of the nutrients that support the retina and overall eye health cross the blood-brain barrier, and are referenced in many peer reviewed research studies for their effectiveness in helping with Parkinson’s disease, as well as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Q: Please discuss the causes and contributing factors of Parkinson’s disease.
A: The main cause recognized by the medical community is the aggregation and misfolding of alpha synuclein in the substantia nigra pars compacta and locus coeruleus part of the brain that results in dominergic neuron brain cell death, resulting in lack of dopamine being produced. This affects both motor and non-motor (cognitive) functioning. With that said, there are a many other variables that need to be considered including chronic inflammation, excess sugar, poor diet, particularly related to foods that contain artificial sweeteners, high sugar drinks, fried foods and canned foods, compromise in the blood brain barrier, gut flora imbalances, exposure to metal toxins and much more discussed in the book. Also, deficiencies in B vitamins and certain minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium and/or zinc can mimic Parkinson’s symptoms, so it is possible if these are properly tested for, a patient may be being treated for Parkinson’s that in fact does not have this disease.
Q: Should people with Parkinson’s disease be eating a specific diet? What foods should they avoid?
A: [They should be eating] primarily an alkaline diet with lots of green, leafy vegetables, fruits (in particular berries) that are low in sugar. The diet should limit any refined carbohydrates and all sugars. Do not consume any artificial sweeteners (stevia is an excellent replacement with no calories), fried foods, canned foods and the diet should be low in beef and dairy if at all. Avoid cooking with vegetable oils, as they have a low keep threshold. Butter and coconut oils are better. Use extra virgin, cold pressed olive on salad. Olive oil can be used as a cooking oil in low heat.
Q: Do you recommend dietary supplements for Parkinson’s disease patients? If so, which ones?
A: There are a number of great nutrients for brain health and Parkinson’s. Some of the top herbs/nutrients include ashwagandha, Bacopa monnieri, baicalin, curcumin, CoQ10, DHA (fish oil), Gingko biloba, ginseng, glutathione (an antioxidant found in greatest quantity in the brain, often found to be deficient in Parkinson’s patients), lutein, PPQ, taurine, resveratrol, lion’s main mushrooms, B vitamins and vitamins D and E, green and black teas. Specifically, low levels of glutathione, DHA, CoQ10, phosphadylserine and taurine have been found in the brains of Parkinson’s patients.
There are many supplements that combine different nutrients listed above and other important ones for Parkinson’s; a number of them reference the book index.
[The] best brain foods include: avocado, dark berries, green, leafy vegetables, pomegranate juice walnuts, and add your favorite fruits and vegetables.
Q: What types of exercise should Parkinson’s patients be doing and how often?
A: Exercise daily depending on one’s functionality. Exercise includes working out at the gym, fast (or slow) walks, swimming and water aerobic exercise, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, dancing. For those with limited mobility, Qigong, yoga and Tai Chi can be done sitting.
Q: How do Parkinson’s patients benefit from the use of essential oils? Which ones should they be using?
A: There are a number of great essential oils that can help improve mood, reduce anxiety and depression, improve sleep, energy and cognition, and even reduce motor coordination issues and tremors. Some of the top ones include helichrysum, frankincense, vetiver, lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, bergamot and ylang ylang, for example. Many companies offer combinations of oils that work well.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: Alternative modalities such as Chinese medicine/acupuncture, homeopathy, massage and daily medication can help manage and reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s. In addition, IV glutathione therapy has been found to be effective in reducing the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Exposure to 1,000-1,500 lux for an hour per day of light therapy for two weeks has been found to reduce medication from 13 to 100 percent. Incorporating natural approaches can significantly help reduce Parkinson’s symptoms, and support minimizing Parkinson’s medications as needed, which can have significant side effects.