Several types of medications exist to treat and manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease but they do not prevent the progression of it. A lot of research is going on to find protective treatments that delay the onset of Parkinson’s or even stop it all together.
The problem is medical researchers do not quite know why the disease even starts, although they know the mechanics of how it happens.
There is a part of the brain called the substantia nigra which has nerve cells that produce a chemical called dopamine. This dopamine transmits messages to the brain, specifically the part that involves motor coordination.
When these nerve cells start to die off or become impaired, the dopamine is no being transferred, causing an interruption in motor coordination. It is the why’s of the nerve cell loss that medical researchers are trying to uncover.
Oxidation and Free Radicals
It is thought that the cell loss is due to the chemical reactions in the brain that engages the oxidation process which in turn kicks off reactions. These reactions may be certain free radicals that can harm these nerve cells in the brain and hinder dopamine production or stop it in its tracks all together.
This oxidation process that kicks off the free radicals may be a clue into how Parkinson’s disease gets started. Finding a protective treatment could help people in the early stages of the disease combat it or at least slow it down enough until better treatments are approved.
An enzyme inhibitor called Selegiline is often prescribed with another Parkinson’s disease drug called levodopa. There are certain enzymes in the blood that work to break down dopamine so that it can not work as long or effectively in the brain.
This Selegiline can block the enzyme or slow it down so the dopamine can do its job in the brain and reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. While no definitive testing proves Selegiline can delay the progression of the disease, it is prescribed because it does make a discernible difference to patients.
Coenzyme Q-10 is a popular ingredient that is often bandied about when it comes to nutritional supplements and such. Within cells are mitochondria that produce the energy you need to function and get through the day. A person with Parkinson’s displays an interruption in energy produced by the cells.
As a protective measure, some doctors are prescribing about 1,000 milligrams per day to cross the bridge in this energy interruption within the cells. It seems to hold off increased disability in patients that religiously follow this regiment but definitive medical research has not proven this is a viable protective measure.
Dopamine agonists are drugs that work to protect what dopamine-producing nerve cells you have left and coax production out of them. When started early in the disease, these dopamine agonists seem to have an antioxidant effect on the cells and hinder the formation of free radicals.
Experimental treatments like gene therapy and stem cell transplants are in clinical trials and the jury is out about how effective they are in treating Parkinson’s disease. For now, Parkinson’s patients should follow the drug regiment prescribed by their doctor and maintain open communications and let them know how one drug works over another.