Facts About Glutathione and Parkinson's Disease
© 2004 Priya Shah
(PD), a devastating illness, occurs in one of every 100 people over
It is a slowly progressing
disease of the nervous system that results in progressive destruction
of brain cells (neurons) in an area of the brain called the substantia
nigra. Death occurs usually as a result of secondary complications such
One of the mechanisms
known to destroy neurons is damage by free radicals or reactive oxygen
species - destructive molecules produced by oxidation of the neurotransmitter
The cells of the
substantia nigra use dopamine - a chemical messenger between brain or
nerve cells - to communicate with cells in another region of the brain
called the striatum.
When nigral cells
are lost, nigral dopamine levels fall, resulting in a decrease in striatal
The typical symptoms
of PD - motor function deficiencies characterized by muscle rigidity,
jerky movements, rhythmic resting tremors - are the result of low levels
of striatal dopamine.
drugs used to treat PD, are aimed at temporarily replenishing or mimicking
dopamine. They improve some symptoms, but do not restore normal brain
function nor halt brain cell destruction.
are generally effective at first in reducing many PD symptoms, but over
time they lose their effect.
They also cause
severe side effects because they overstimulate nerve cells elsewhere
in the body and cause confusion, hallucinations, nausea and fluctuations
in the movement of limbs.
neurons are lost in the course of Parkinson's disease, the metabolism
of dopamine is increased - which in turn increases the formation of
highly neurotoxic hydroxyl radicals.
The most important
free radical scavenger in the cells of the substantia nigra is the powerful
brain antioxidant, glutathione. Glutathione levels in PD patients are
And as we age, levels
of glutathione in the dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra decreases.
This appears to hasten cell death and advance the progression of PD.
At least 80 percent
of the substantia nigra cells are lost before symptoms of Parkinson's
disease become apparent. This is why it becomes essential to protect
or maintain these cells under oxidative stress.
Glutathione help in Parkinson's Disease?
explain why glutathione is so beneficial in Parkinson’s disease.
1. Glutathione increases
the sensitivity of the brain to dopamine. So although glutathione doesn't
raise dopamine levels, it allows the dopamine in the brain to be more
powerful antioxidant activity protects the brain from free radical damage.
3. An even more
intriguing benefit of glutathione lies in its powerful detoxification
Its a well known
fact that most Parkinson’s patients are deficient in their ability
to detoxify chemicals to which they are exposed.
few who harbor an inherited flaw in their detoxification pathways are
at far greater risk to the brain damaging effects of a wide variety
Glutathione is one
of the most important components of the liver’s detoxification
system. Glutathione therapy is one of the most effective techniques
for enhancing liver and brain detoxification.
considerably improve some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease including
difficulties with rigidity, walking, movement, coordination and speech.
A marked reduction of tremor has been observed as well as a decrease
N-acetyl-L-cysteine (a glutathione precursor) have been shown to be
very effective in protecting the nerves in the substantia nigra from
being destroyed by oxidative stress.
Therapy in Parkinson's Disease
The practical problem
in increasing glutathione levels is that taking glutathione itself as
a supplement does not boost cellular glutathione levels, since glutathione
breaks down in the digestive tract before it reaches the cells.
glutathione therapy and taking glutathione precursors are both effective
in boosting intracellular levels of glutathione.
injections have been shown to have amazing and quick results.
Dr. David Perlmutter,
a pioneer in this therapy, has developed a protocol utilized at the
Perlmutter Health Center for administering intravenous glutathione to
Following even a
single dosage of intravenous glutathione - often in as little as 15
minutes - the ability to walk, turn around and move their arms is almost
and supplements that increase cellular glutathione, such as alpha lipoic
acid, NAC, pycnogenol, the herb silymarin (milk thistle), are effective
in restoring normal function.
(NAC) and un-denatured, whey protein both supply glutathione precursors
intracellularly, enhance the body’s production of glutathione
and aid the detoxification process.
supplements which aid the detoxification process include selenium, vitamins
E and C.
Read a detailed
report with references on Parkinson's
Disease and Glutathione
About the author:
Priya Shah is the Editor of The Glutathione Report, a newsletter featuring regular updates on the health benefits of glutathione. Get a Free report on Glutathione in Health and Disease
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