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Neuroinlammation – Part 3

March 16, 2011

Without a cause or defined course of progression for Parkinson’s Disease, it has been extremely difficult to even offer anything beyond levodopa, itself a mixed blessing. I am convinced that there is no “magic bullet”, at least not soon, because there is no single cause. This may eventually yield to the idea of treatment with adaptogenic substances which enable the body to heal itself.

For now, however, a different tack is indicated. I try to look at PD as the running sum of a collection of processes – inflammation, oxidation, mitochondrial dysfunction, chronic stress, allergies and sensitivities, etc. I see these as the driving forces behind the slow and relentless shuffle of PD. So my thoughts are directed toward disrupting progression followed by attempts at repair.

Neuroinflammation and general inflammation seem to hover near the top of my list. Both are defensive actions necessary for survival. The former refers to actions within the central nervous system (CNS) and the latter in the periphery. The biggest difference in the two are the presence of the immune system warriors knwn as “microglia” in the CNS. Normally, these cells enjoy a sedate existence staying on the sidelines attracting little notice. However, at the first sign of danger, these mild-mannered creatures drop their “secret identities” and transform into what is, in some microscopic worlds, that most terrifying of creatures – the activated microglial cell.

Imagine that you returned home only to find that your cute puppy had turned into T. rex and had eaten the neighbors. That is the level of change that we are talking about. It is very effective in its role as an automated guardian. Its job is to hold invaders at  bay while the rest of the immune system gathers itself and rushes to battle in response to the messages sent by the raging microglia. Once those better equipped forces arrive, the microglia stand down and resume their mild mannered existence.

However, as the St. Jude team confirmed so well, sometimes they refuse to stand down. Like unpaid mercenaries in some ancient army, they ignore the commands to stop and thus they remain in an activated state. And that’s not good.

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