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A Brief Overview of Parkinson’s Disease

August 3, 2010

First, a bit of cold, hard truth – despite 200 years of trying, we know darned little about Parkinson’s Disease (PD). And despite a steady flow of optimistic press releases about miracles that are almost always five years away, the situation isn’t changing much. Modern medicine knows neither cause, course, nor cure for PD.

But modern medicine is not the same thing as modern science and science, in the form of accumulated research, knows a great deal about PD – maybe just enough. A mountain of data has accumulated over the last fifty years and most of it has been filed away awaiting another researcher. It certainly has not found its way to the office of the local neurologist as any person with Parkinson’s (PWP) who is paying attention can tell you.

And PWP are paying attention and even figuring out things on their own. The Net has allowed them to communicate with one another and given them access to that mountain of data. They are taking advantage of that to sift through the dusty attic of science and they are learning things that have been forgotten or ignored. Things that challenge the way that things are done and how money is spent. Things that point up the gaping holes in the official view of PD as a mix of genes and environment that just needs the right pill to be cured.

Some of those things include_
1. One can give a rat PD by giving him influenza.
2. One can give a rat PD by exposing him as a fetus to bacterial infection.
3. An adult human can develop Parkinson’s – like symptoms from exposure to certain bacterial toxins.
4. These all create an ongoing immune response by the microglia in the brain.
5. This response, once established, is persistent and has many triggers.
6. Pollutants, toxins, and chronic stress are just a few of those triggers.
7. The ongoing immune response itself triggers a parallel stress response from the endocrine system.
8. The immune response utilizes chemical cytokines. The stress response on the part of the endocrine system utilizes chemical hormones. Both are neuroactive and affect mental function and account for many of the non-motor aspects of PD.
9. Chronic exposure to either of these chemicals can be destructive to the nervous system.
10. One area where this destruction is particularly evident is the substantia nigra. This seems to be the source of the motor symptoms that go with PD.
11. Finally, a slowed GI system can result from the endocrine and immune responses. The general inflammatory state increases the permeability of the protective barriers and result in “leaky gut” which can not only add to the toxins in the system but can also result in autoimmune problems.
12. The same inflammation can weaken the blood brain barrier as well and allow toxins to cross into the brain itself.

These points, all of which are supported by research, define a process that begins with the immune system and then draws in the endocrine and GI systems and ultimately afflicting the CNS. This is just the beginning and simply serves to illustrate that there is much to be added to the picture. That is our goal, in a sense – to put as many pieces of the puzzle on the table as possible in hopes that the solution will emerge.

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