Parkinson's patients: leave the bean behind

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Parkinson, Brain, Medicine, Nervous system

Younger Parkinson's patients are more likely to take alternative
treatments than older Parkinson's patients, new research suggests.

According to a new research, younger Parkinson's patients are more likely to take alternative treatments than older Parkinson's patients, HealthScoutNews reports. However, according to doctors, experimenting with unproven remedies could mean trouble. According to Dr. Robert G. Feldman, a professor or neurology, pharmacology and environmental health at Boston University, a dietary supplement, derived from fava beans and popular among Parkinson's patients, can lead to an overdose problem if combined with a prescribed Parkinson's medication. Fava bean supplements contain levodopa or L-dopa, a substance converted in the brain to dopamine, a potent brain chemical that controls motor movement. Parkinson's patients' brains do not produce enough dopamine, and that leads to the muscle stiffness and tremors associated with the disease. Doctors prescribe L-dopa, but each person needs a precise amount. According to Dr. Feldman, too much can lead to side effects and overdosing. "Anybody who tries alternative medicine should discuss it with one's treating neurologist, because sometimes the alternative medications are going to interfere with other drugs being taken. A lot of people try supplements secretly because they think their treating physicians will not approve,"​ Dr. Feldman says. Johns Hopkins University researchers found 40 per cent of the 201 people with Parkinson's they interviewed used alternative treatments. According to the study, 60 per cent of people under age 45 with Parkinson's took alternative treatments. 58 per cent of those taking alternative treatments did not talk to their doctor beforehand. The findings appear in the Sept. 11 issue of Neurology: the journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Parkinson's is a progressive disease of the central nervous system that affects more than 1 million people in the United States.

Related topics: Research

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