Orthomolecular Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

Nutritional therapy is also known as Orthomolecular therapy.

According to the Orthomolecular Medicine website, “Orthomolecular medicine, as conceptualized by double-Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, aims to restore the optimum environment of the body by correcting imbalances or deficiencies based on individual biochemistry, using substances natural to the body such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements and fatty acids.”

In a 1996 article in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine entitled “How to Live Longer and Feel Better, Even With Cancer”, Dr. Abram Hoffer, Ph.D., M.D. reports on the use of nutritional therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease as follows:

“Parkinson’s disease is another example of a condition which is related to excessive oxidation (auto-oxidation), yielding too many free radicals. Jenner writes “There has been reluctance by scientists, grant-giving bodies, and the pharmaceutical industry to accept that free-radical mechanisms are an important component of neurodegenerative disease. A decade ago the concept was thought facile but at least now some acceptance has been gained. Nobody is claiming that free radicals explain every unique feature of neurodegenerative disease. Rather, we are proposing that they are a common feature of the process of cell death in most, if not all, such illnesses. If so, the therapeutic rewards may be great. It may become possible to stop or slow the progression of common disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, with a single therapeutic approach.

I have evidence that the combination of niacin (and perhaps niacinamide as well) and anti-oxidants will be therapeutic for Parkinson’s disease. Over the past thirty years I have treated patients with Parkinson’s disease with niacin, 500 to 1000 mg tid. It has been very effective in removing psychiatric symptoms but has been of no value in treating the neurological component.

This disease is considered to be a dopamine deficiency disease and is treated with large doses of l-dopa, in one form or another. But large doses produce schizophrenic-like symptoms, the higher the dose the greater the incidence. This is not surprising since dopachrome must have properties similar to adrenochrome, i.e. is an hallucinogen. 

More likely Parkinson’s disease is a combination of too little dopamine and too much dopachrome i.e. there is excessive conversion of dopamine into dopachrome. Dopachrome is neuro-toxic and by increasing destruction of neurons will accelerate the development of the disease while at the same time masking some of the symptoms. Adrenalin is oxidized to oxidized adrenalin losing one electron. In the presence of the NAD — NADH system the oxidized adrenalin is reduced back to adrenalin and the cycle continues. When there is too little NAD or NADH or both another electron is lost and adrenochrome is formed. This last reaction is irreversible. 

Vitamin B3, therefore, can decrease the production of adrenochrome. This has not been tested experimentally but in a recent series of reports, Professor J. G. D. Birkmayer and his associates at the Birkmayer Institute for Parkinson Therapy, in Vienna, Austria, studied a stable form of NADH. 

They found that their stable preparation using 5 mg doses was therapeutic for Parkinson’s disease, for Alzheimer’s, and for depression.

They wrote, “When we first used NADH with regard to its clinical efficacy the effect was not convincing. This was most likely due to the rapid dissolution (approximately 10-15 minutes) of the capsule leading to a release of NADH into the acid conditions of the stomach. Since NADH is rapidly oxidized below pH 7.6 the conditions in the stomach will inactivate NADH by converting it to NAD. The investigations of this report were therefore performed with NADH capsules coated with an acid stable film and a release time of two to three hours. With this galenic formulation of NADH an improvement in disability could be achieved which was comparable to that of intravenously applied NADH.”

The lipid soluble vitamin E has some therapeutic value in treating Parkinson’s disease. Coenzyme Q10 is coming into prominent use as a powerful anti-oxidant. Schapira et alreported that NADH-ubiquinone (Q10) reductase (Complex 1) and NADH cytochrome c reductase activities were reduced in Parkinson’s disease in the substantia nigra.

It occurred to me that providing both increased amounts of niacin, the precursor of NAD and NADH, and large amounts of coenzyme Q10, would be of value in treating cases of Parkinson’s disease. I have given this combination to one patient with classical Parkinson’s disease.

The first one, age 84, had been on the orthomolecular regimen for at least 25 years and he was mentally normal. His program included niacin 1 gram tid and the usual anti-oxidants such as ascorbic acid, vitamin E, selenium. A couple of years ago Parkinson’s disease was diagnosed. It was evident in his gait, leg muscle weakness and tremor. Last year his neurologist started him on Sinemet which may have helped slightly but he continued to deteriorate.

Late last summer I advised him to add coenzyme Q10, 600 mg daily to his program. Within two weeks he was much better. When I saw him early in July this year he had regained the use of his limbs, had very little tremor and was able once more to play golf as had been his habit before. He is on Q10, 300 mg daily. His neurologist was very surprised at the marked improvement.

Another patient had difficulty walking for many years. Her walk closely resembled the walk of a patient with Parkinson’s disease and the diagnosis had been considered by her physician. I tried to help her for several years with no relief. But after she was started on Q10 300 mg daily, within one month there was a marked improvement in her walk and also in her mood.

With a combination of vitamin B3 plus anti-oxidants, especially Q10, it may be possible to prevent and to treat Parkinson’s disease. The treatment would have to be started as early as possible before too many neurons have been destroyed by the adreno-chrome or dopachrome. The niacin will protect against the psychological side effects of the l-dopa treatment and the anti-oxidants will protect against the neuromuscular effects of the disease. One could then use l-dopa without the patient having to suffer its toxic consequences and their lives would be prolonged.”

The entire text of this article is available here

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