There are many treatments that are supposed to help with PD, but we can't really, accurately, explain why:
- exercise is proving to be very good, but so far I've only found suggestions that it increases BDNF.
- fasting, or calorie restriction has many reports of helping PD. What's that about?
- creatine, a bodybuilding supplement, is in stage III clinical trials as being neuroprotective in PD.
- coconut oil has long been rumoured to help.
What might all these things have in common?
As I'm sure many of us do, I was browsing the neurotalk PD forum, and came across this post:http://neurotalk.psychcentral.com/thread178114.html
Biosignatures in blood panel show insulin is key factor in PD
which was most interesting, as I was beginning to get into the theory of insulin and PD myself (especially following the newscientist article a while back suggesting Alzheimer's could / should be renamed Type III diabetes), and my own experiences of hypoglycaemia pre-PD diagnosis.
Here's some other links that got me thinking:
Insulin resistance prevents cells getting sufficient glucose, impacting brain function.http://www.hbo.com/alzheimers/science-insulin-in-the-brain.html
But what could cause insulin resistance? A lack of PGC1a, it seems:http://flipper.diff.org/app/items/info/4234http://advan.physiology.org/content/30/4/145.full
and a lack of PGC1a also causes mitochondrial dysfunction (same links above). And what does mitochondrial dysfunction cause? More insulin resistance, excess free radicals, and more mitochondrial dysfunction. A vicious circle.http://www.lef.org/protocols/neurological/parkinsons_disease_01.htm
In summary: not enough PGC1a -> mitochondrial dysfunction + insulin resistance (and free radicals) -> brain cell energy deficiency -> more mitochondrial dysfunction -> protein amyloid buildup -> neuron death -> dopamine deficiency
So where do the treatments above fit in? Well it seems, reading the articles above, that exercise and fasting both increase PGC1a expression. Creatine helps with production of energy for cells (which dysfunctional mitochondria are struggling to produce enough of):http://www.scq.ubc.ca/creatine-from-muscle-to-brain/
and coconut oil, with its medium-chain fatty acids, provides an easily utilised alternative fuel for the brain than glucose:http://www.cognatenutritionals.com/science.php
and all the anti-oxidants we keep hearing about that are good for PD, are because they soak up the free radicals caused by the mitochondrial dysfunction, interrupting that vicious cycle. So all the treatments are focused on improving, replacing or supplementing one part of the long chain that could result in PD.
My conclusion from all this? None of the treatments above are in any way bad for you. So it can't possibly hurt to apply them all (exercise, fasting, creatine, anti-oxidants etc) in the hope it somewhat slows down the progression, and in the meantime, wait for medical science to perfect the gene therapy that fixes the root cause, PGC1a deficiency:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=parkinsons-mitochondria
Apologies for the quality of some of the links, they're only there to illustrate the basic points. There's plenty of other pages that say similar things with varying amounts of scientific credibility
One last thought: doesn't this make our neurologists, with their fixation on only the very last part of this chain (dopamine deficiency) look incredibly short sighted? It's like having a car that's constantly leaking oil, and instead of asking why, focusing all your energy on different ways to top the oil up. In fact, it makes me incredibly angry!