A Comprehensive Guide to Functional Medicine for Parkinson’s Disease

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Parkinson’s Disease is a complex neurological disorder that affects movement, cognitive function, sleep patterns, emotional well-being, speech, and more. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may include tremors, stiff muscles, slow movements, difficulty with balance and coordination, and changes in speech.

Holistic Perspective

Parkinson’s Disease affects more than movement, impacting emotions, cognition, sleep patterns, and overall quality of life. While there are several traditional medications and treatments, they only manage the symptoms.

Functional Medicine providers like the Integrated Health Systems take a different approach by examining the entire system and identifying the underlying causes. It also considers genetics, environment, and lifestyle factors to create a personalized treatment plan.

This includes a nutrient-dense diet, eliminating gluten, getting enough vitamin D and omega-3s, reducing exposure to toxins, getting adequate restful sleep, and using supplements and botanicals, such as low-dose naltrexone (LDN).

The objective is to assist patients in managing their symptoms and enhance the quality of their life. Therefore, a thorough integrative medicine approach is crucial. Including complementary therapies such as tai chi, yoga, and meditation can also aid in improving balance, flexibility, and emotional well-being. Altering our perception of health and wellness is crucial for individuals dealing with Parkinson’s.

Role of Genetics and Environment

While a single mutation causes some diseases, most health issues result from both genes and the environment. The environment can affect gene expression, which can then change the proteins produced by that gene. Examples include diet, exercise, stress, environmental toxins, and even our gut microbiome.

A progressive neurological condition, Parkinson’s Disease causes the gradual loss of neurons that produce dopamine in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease typically begin in middle or late life and can range from mild to severe. The main symptoms include shaking, stiffness, slow movement, and difficulty walking.

Several natural therapies are known to help manage PD symptoms, ease pain, and improve quality of life. These can include exercise, acupuncture, massage, and certain supplements. However, not all are scientifically proven to work. Many are not covered by insurance and can be costly. Fortunately, functional Medicine provides a holistic approach to treating PD that addresses all the underlying factors and imbalances.

Limitations of Traditional Medicine

Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, there are several treatment options to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Pharmaceuticals such as dopamine agonists and levodopa can help replenish lost dopamine and alleviate motor symptoms. However, these medications can also cause side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness. Other options include incorporating a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, stress management, bright light therapy, detoxification protocols, and botanicals and supplements.

Functional Medicine is a comprehensive approach to health that includes assessing seven core physiological systems and identifying environmental and lifestyle factors contributing to a person’s imbalances and symptoms/Disease. This type of assessment is often not covered by conventional insurance and may be more expensive than a standard appointment with your primary care doctor. Usually, functional medicine practitioners will schedule an initial visit with you for 1 hour of one-on-one time to thoroughly discuss your needs and develop a plan to optimize your health.

Potential of Functional Medicine

Unlike conventional Medicine, which treats disease symptoms with drugs and surgery, Functional Medicine addresses the root causes. Functional medicine practitioners consider genetics and the environment to build a personalized treatment plan for each patient.

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative condition that involves the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain and the accumulation of Lewy bodies in other cells. It results in tremors, stiffness, slow shuffling gait, clumsiness, dementia, and difficulty speaking.

While the twentieth century saw incredible advances in treating acute Disease and injury, we are experiencing an epidemic of chronic illness. Functional Medicine is the future of Medicine and is our best weapon in the fight against chronic Disease. It seeks to find the root cause of health conditions and prevent them from happening in the first place. Functional Medicine is true healthcare.