What natural therapy would be appropriate to defend against Parkinson’s disease and help optimize the functional integrity of the brain and nervous system? I found that the Functional Medicine approach to Parkinson’s disease therapy is the best approach.
A Health Model That Makes Sense:
As I was reading holistic books to find answers on how to treat Parkinson’s, I read a few books written by medical doctors outlining a new discipline in medicine called Functional Medicine. I was very impressed by the logic they presented in these books as to why degenerative conditions occur. I was also impressed by their health model that outlined how to reverse most degenerative conditions with diet and supplements. In these books I found a natural therapy for Parkinson’s that made a lot of sense.
What is Functional Medicine:
The Functional Medicine approach includes principles that are of great benefit to the treatment of Parkinson’s. These principles support the following: 1) better digestion and assimilation of foods through the use of probiotics and enzymes; 2) better nutrition through nutrient rich food supplements and; 3) increased protection against free radical damage (oxidative stress) through whole food antioxidants.
Tens of thousands of people have used this health model to help themselves from many chronic degenerative conditions and to treat Parkinson’s. Additionally, many of the studies and books written by Functional Medicine doctors give us the scientific reasons behind why this specific health model and the supplements used have helped with a wide variety of health-related conditions.
Today there is a very large number of alternative, allopathic and naturopathic doctors practicing the Functional Medicine approach to health.
Why does Functional Medicine work?
Functional Medicine physicians believe that most brain and nervous system degenerative conditions have their origin in the malfunction of the digestive tract and the liver’s detoxification system. In other words, illness can be directly related to problems of the digestive and liver detoxification systems and their related influence on immune, nervous and endocrine system functions. Therefore, when the health of the digestive and liver detoxification systems is addressed, the body is given the opportunity to reverse brain and nervous system degenerative conditions. With Parkinson’s a Functional Medicine doctor will first recommend addressing the health of the gastrointestinal tract (GI). Once the GI tract is normalized, then the liver detoxification system should be supported and strengthened.
Today, through the efforts of Functional Medicine doctors, we have hundreds of clinical studies and scientific research that confirm what many of us have heard so often from folk medicine practitioners: “Stomach problems are the cause of all ills” or “Death begins in the colon.”
Jeffrey Anderson, M.D., wrote an article called “How Problems with Digestion Can Cause Illness Anywhere”, and in this article he explains why you should address the health of the gastrointestinal tract first, no matter what the name of the degenerative condition. He explains that “new information on the dynamics of the body make it clear that conditions in the digestive tract affect the entire system” (Nichols, et al., 1999, p.125). The “…degradation of the gastrointestinal environment is one of the primary points at which health is lost. What we now know is that the same toxins associated with GI dysfunction are frequently absorbed and distributed to other parts of the body including the brain.” First they place a burden on the liver and the immune system. If liver overload occurs, there will be spill over, and some of the toxins will be passed on to the brain and nervous system”.
“Often, it’s a weak link in the system that will be hit by the damage – an organ that can be anywhere in the body that is most likely to be vulnerable. The vulnerability may be inherited, caused by physical injury, toxic exposure, or poor diet” (p.125). For example, if the sensitive system is the brain, toxins that originate in the gut and circulate in the bloodstream may manifest as Parkinson’s (p.125).
Len Saputo, M.D., in his article, ”Harmful Flora”, also believes that if the gastrointestinal tract goes out of balance and the liver detoxification system breaks down, our entire immune system can malfunction in three ways. First, it can be weakened and the result called an immune suppression disease (cancer and AIDS). Second, it can overreact and become hyper responsive to normal stimuli; this occurs in asthma, eczema, migraine, and food allergies. Third, a malfunctioning immune system can cause auto immune reactions, where antibodies target our own tissues, as in Parkinson’s (p.60).
Jerry Stine, M.D., in his article, “How Digestion Works”, explains that the gastrointestinal tract is the largest immune organ in our body. Eighty percent of all our protective immune globulins are produced in the digestive tract (p.16). When this large, strategically placed immune system member (the GI tract) isn’t working well, several stresses are set in motion. The first of these is the increased production of toxic byproducts called free-radicals. The assault of free radicals, also referred to as oxidative stress, further over stimulates the liver, causing it to send out signals that can confuse the immune system. These signals may trigger inappropriate reactions in both the immune and neurological systems and cause inflammation. Increased stresses on the liver can be caused by minor but frequent GI complaints, and in the case of many Parkinson’s patients the complaints could be chronic constipation and/or an overgrowth of yeast.
Oxidative stress from free radicals can also cause problems by depleting essential nutrients. This can short-circuit immune function, and the activity of the nervous system. Derrick Lonsdale, M.D., and Raymond Shamberger, Ph.D., found a close correlation between the insufficiency of B-vitamin with neurological symptoms. When dietary improvement were made that enhanced the body’s absorption of B-vitamin, symptoms such as recurring bad dreams, fatigue, sleep disturbances, personality changes, depression abated significantly.
Functional Medicine Strategies to Reverse Degenerative Conditions, Including Parkinson’s:
- First you detoxify the GI tract.
- Then get the liver detoxification system working.
- And finally clean up the downstream consequence,
Functional Medicine doctors believe that you can’t deal with the downstream conditions (symptoms in the body such as Parkinson’s), until you’ve treated the upstream problem(s) in the gut and liver (p.132). When you clean up the upstream issues and the liver, then the downstream consequences tend to go away.
Functional Medicine Solution for Most Degenerative Conditions
The 4Rs Solution:
1) Remove: Abnormal kinds/amounts of intestinal microorganisms (parasites, bacterial pathogens, small intestinal overgrowth such as yeast, and food antigens). This can be done by repairing “leaky” intestinal membranes.
2) Replace: Hydrochloric acid, enzymes, and fiber deficiency can be addressed and replaced with friendly bacteria, digestive enzymes and fiber supplements.
3) Restore: Symbiotic bacteria and GI bacteria through the use of full spectrum friendly bacteria (L. acidophilus, B. bifidus, L. planetarium, L. salivarius, L. bulgaricus, etc.).
4) Repair: Replace or augment with nutrients necessary to support healing of intestinal lining, plus adequacy of calories, and adequacy of fiber. Support the liver detoxification system through the use of antioxidants and food based nutritional supplements (pp. 181-182).
The 4 R’s are a great process for the nutritional support of Parkinson’s.
The Difference is in the Quality Of The Nutritional Supplements:
There are a multitude of allopathic and naturopathic doctors practicing Functional Medicine today, and they recommend supporting better digestion, better nutrition, and better protection against oxidative stress. However, when it comes to supplements, most Functional Medicine doctors recommend standard man-made supplements in their isolated, single, separated or chemically-manufactured form, such as zinc, copper, vitamins B, C, E and beta carotene, to reverse degenerative conditions.
I don’t believe vitamins and minerals should be taken in single and chemically-manufactured forms. For example, vitamins are intricate, interrelated, integrated, and united organic nutritive groups. Nature made them as an indistinguishable part of foods for the benefit of human health. Vitamins are inseparable as working nutrients from trace elements, minerals, proteins, and other elements.
Chemists have attempted to isolate and identify some of the components of these food complexes, labeling the seemingly “active” elements as vitamins or other nutrients. Yet there is no possible way that even the sum of the parts is equal to the whole. It is only the whole food, intact and unaltered, that works as a nutritional source and therefore is the best eczema treatment. The isolated parts are not recognized by the body as foods. In large amounts, these isolated chemicals function more like drugs, which stimulate or suppress biochemical functions, instead of providing nourishment for the cells to carry on their vital activities.
Natural, food-source vitamins are enzymatically alive. Man-made, synthetic vitamins are dead chemicals. Human health requires “live” biochemical. It is simply a matter of chemistry versus biochemistry.
I think Functional Medicine doctors are “right on the money” when it comes to explaining why degenerative conditions occur such as the case with Parkinson’s, but when it comes to the solution which is their supplement program, they are mainly providing the typical man-made and chemically-manufactured supplements. A multitude of us prefer the use of whole food supplements for treatment of Parkinson’s because it is based on the philosophy that “Food is the best medicine.”
Searching for the Ultimate Whole Food Supplements:
There are certainly better alternatives than man-made supplements; i.e. organic whole food supplements. Whole food supplements are far superior in their quality and effectiveness for reversing Parkinson’s because they are produced in their natural and complex configuration.
Why whole food products work better is based on the philosophy that the human body is a marvelously designed living organism with the ability to grow, regulate, repair, and defend itself when given natural, high quality, full spectrum nutrients.
I don’t know of too many companies that produce high quality whole foods supplements. However, I came across one company that has been in the whole food supplement business for over twenty years. I was so impressed with their philosophy of producing whole food supplements that I paid a visit to their manufacturing facility. I was very impressed with everything they do to preserve the quality of their whole food supplements from the time the foods are harvested to the time they are introduced to the public as supplements.
Today I’m a distributor of their products. Since my philosophy has always been that “food is our best medicine”, I found their supplements to align with my philosophy. I have been distributing their products for many years. Hundreds of thousands of people have been helped with these whole food products. I’m not surprised, because when it comes to healing the body, there is nothing more powerful than supplementing with whole foods, especially if they are wild-crafted and organically grown.
If your goal is to find a natural treatment for Parkinson’s, may I recommend that you follow this health model which is the same as the Functional Medicine health model with the exception that I recommend the use of whole foods and not man-made supplements:
1. Support better digestion and assimilation of foods through the use of probiotics and enzyme
2. Nourish through food-based supplements (consuming nutrient rich foods such as wheat grass, bee
pollen, blue green algae…etc.).
3. Repair and protect against free radical damage (oxidative stress) through the use of whole food
antioxidant supplements (wheat sprouts, red algae, wheat grass,.etc.) Learn more about Antioxidants and
With the use of whole food supplements you can improve the GI tract environment, decrease the burden of the toxins and thereby take the stress off the liver. With less toxins there is less need for a constant high level
defense effort and everything in the body just starts to work better. Dr. Jeffrey Anderson summarizes the whole concept of natural healing so beautifully when he said: “you can’t deal with the downstream problems
(symptoms in the body) until you have addressed the upstream problem(s) (i.e., malfunctions in the gut)” (Nichols, p. 132).