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There are a number of nutrients that slow Parkinson’s disease in laboratory models and in humans, even if the majority of scientific clinical studies do not conclusively prove it their efficacy.
Two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, are involved in causing Parkinsonian symptoms. A deficit in dopamine is what causes the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s: the shuffling gait, uncontrollable tremors, and rigid facial and body muscles. Low levels of serotonin are a marker for the severity of the disease.
Some amino acids (protein building blocks) support dopamine production. Others improve enzyme function for dopamine synthesis. There are also a few that provide antioxidant properties for mitochondrial function.
- Acetyl-l-carnitine daily with R-alpha lipoic acid: This has been shown in a cellular model  of Parkinson’s disease and also in a rat model  of Parkinson’s disease to protect against the decay of mitochondria and improve brain function.
- Tryptophan: Because L-dopa treatment seems to down-regulate brain tryptophan levels, many patients on L-dopa get improved mood and functional abilities when given tryptophan or 5-HTP (150-300 mg twice daily), the precursors for serotonin. Serotonin neurotransmitter pathways are involved in mood, sleep, memory and cognition.
- N-acetyl-cysteine: 100-250 mg daily. This antioxidant helps regenerate glutathione and is, therefore, thought to protect against mitochondrial destruction in Parkinson’s disease. Higher doses (5,000 mg daily) can be used for a month for quick symptom reversal and then tapered.
- Tyrosine, D-phenylalanine: I have read that supplementation with the amino acids tyrosine (1-3 grams) with D-phenylalanine (100-250 mg) taken twice daily before food for four weeks was found to significantly improve rigidity, walking, speech and depression but not tremors in 15 patients with Parkinson’s disease. 
- L-methionine: You can take 2 grams daily and then gradually increase up to 5 grams a day for several months before tapering dose back down to 1 gram a day to help with symptoms.
- Taurine with magnesium: Has been reported to reduce tremors in Parkinson’s patients.
- Chelators DMSA  or EDTA: Used along with antioxidant supplements  if there is reason to suspect heavy metal toxicity from previous exposure to lead, cadmium, mercury or arsenic. There are oral forms of EDTA that are slow and safe but not yet evaluated in clinical trials.
- Coenzyme Q10: Deficiency is expected as we age and accelerated in chronic disease states. CoenzymeQ10 deficiency is found in about one-third of Parkinson’s cases . In a study of 80 patients with early Parkinson’s, doses of 1,200 mg daily of Coenzyme Q10 markedly curtailed the progression of their disease.  The patients in this study were followed for 16 months or until disability requiring treatment with levodopa had developed.
- NADH: 2.5 to 5 mg every other morning to help regenerate glutathione in the neurons of Parkinson’s disease. 
- Melatonin: 1 mg one hour before bed 5 days per week. In laboratory animals given MPP (1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium) to induce Parkinson’s, melatonin prevented symptoms. (The toxin MPP can lead to Parkinson’s by causing oxidative destruction of the substantia nigra nerve cells.)
Much like the items I discussed here in relationship to Alzheimer’s, these phytonutrients are safe and may be useful in many cases
- Ashwagandha leaf extract: Greatly reduces physiological and neurological performance abnormalities in animal models of Parkinson’s disease in a dose-dependent fashion when treated for one week,  three weeks  and up to nine weeks. 
- Black tea (extract) and coffee: A meta-analysis of studies showed that caffeine intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in men.  Other study authors found that black tea extract protected and even reversed damage to neurons in rats with Parkinson’s disease and suggested that daily black tea consumption slows disease progression and delays the onset of Parkinson’s disease.  A large study reported that there were 10.5 cases of Parkinson’s disease per 10,000 person-years among non-coffee drinkers, and only 1.7 cases for those drinking more than 28 ounces.
- Rutin: This flavonoid is found in many foods including buckwheat, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, apples, mulberries, cranberries and (clingstone) peaches. In animal models of Parkinson’s disease, rutin extract protected dopaminergic neurons from oxidative stress  and Yerba mate (contains rutin) reduced Parkinson’s disease signs. 
- Ginkgo biloba extract: Has neuroprotective effects shown in animal models of Parkinson’s disease.
- Resveratrol: Slowed oxidative damage and dopamine depletion in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease.
- Mucuna pruriens: An herb that may work as an antioxidant and dopamine promoter.
Foods that can help
Try adding some foods to your diet that have tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin. These include:
- Soy products
- Vitamin B6 50-100 mg daily with zinc 30 mg daily: Enhances the effectiveness of concurrent treatment with L-dopa or Sinemet (L-Dopa and Carbidopa) in about 40 percent of patients. Best taken in the evening if dopamine precursors are taken in the morning. Also, vitamin B6 reduces tremors. A study of 60 Parkinson’s disease patients had a significant reduction of tremors (12 had complete disappearance) using 300-400
mg daily. 
- Vitamins C and E: Patient reports and small studies show the benefits of vitamin C (3,000 mg daily) and vitamin E (1,200 IU daily) supplementation along with other antioxidants used together, even delaying the time (by 5.5 years) until levodopa treatment became necessary in earliest stages of the disease in one group compared to a group without supplementation. 
- Selenium: 100 micrograms daily. This antioxidant can help increase levels of glutathione.
- Wheat germ oil (octacosanol): 1-2 oz. daily has been reported to reduce some symptoms (unless taking L-Dopa).
- Evening primrose oil: Has been reported to reduce tremors.
Other Interventions To Consider
Electro-acupuncture: Chinese researchers reported  in 2011 that 100 Hz stimulations daily at two acupuncture sites (ST36 and SP6) greatly protected the substantia nigra in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. They advocated electro-acupuncture as a promising therapy for treating Parkinson’s disease.
Physical exercise: Resistance training  and cardiovascular exercise  improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Endurance exercise improves cognitive function in aging mice  and aging people  with Parkinson’s disease.
Mental exercise: Many studies demonstrate that older adults improve their expected decline in thinking skills with certain mental exercises  both in Alzheimer’s patients   as well as Parkinson’s disease patients.  Listening to calming music improves gait and gait-related activity,  but brain exercises in general don’t seem to improve most other symptoms in Parkinson’s patients. Helpful brain exercises include: Start a new hobby, travel, get a part-time job, attend adult community seminars and events on interesting topics, volunteer, learn a foreign language, learn a new talent or skill, or buy fun. You can find interesting mind games here and here.
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