Parkinson’s Supplements: Emerging Science Suggests They May Help Manage Symptoms

Exploring the role of nutritional supplements in managing Parkinson’s disease opens up a new avenue for potentially enhancing the quality of life for those affected by this condition. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, incorporating certain supplements into one’s routine may offer supportive benefits when used together with traditional medical treatments.

This article discusses the many supplements that have been studied for their potential to improve symptoms or slow the progression of Parkinson’s. From vitamins and minerals to herbals and antioxidants, we will examine the evidence behind these supplements, aiming to provide a clearer understanding of their possible role in a comprehensive Parkinson’s management plan.

Along with providing information on the benefits of supplements for Parkinson’s, this article also links to Fullscript where you can buy Parkinson’s supplements online through the secure healthcare formulary and get free shipping and 20% off the retail price of professional-grade supplements. 

What Is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder affecting the nervous system. It impacts movement, often starting with a barely noticeable tremor in one hand. As the condition advances, it can lead to stiffness or slowing of movement. Symptoms vary but usually include tremors, muscle stiffness, and impaired posture and balance. People with Parkinson’s may also experience changes in speech and writing.

The exact cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, but several factors appear to play a role, including genetics and environmental triggers. For example, exposure to certain toxins or a history of head injury might increase the risk. Age is another important factor, with Parkinson’s typically developing in middle or later years.

It’s important to recognize that Parkinson’s symptoms and their intensity can vary widely among people. Early signs might be mild and go unnoticed. Slowed movement (bradykinesia) is a hallmark of Parkinson’s, often starting with reduced facial expressions or less arm swing when walking. Tremors usually begin in a limb, often the hand or fingers. Muscle stiffness can occur in any part of the body, and impaired posture and balance are common, leading to a higher risk of falls.

Parkinson’s is a complex condition with no cure, but treatments are available to manage symptoms. These treatments often involve medications, but surgical therapies might be an option in some cases. Early diagnosis and tailored treatment plans are crucial for managing Parkinson’s effectively.

What Food and Lifestyle Factors Are Important For Managing Parkinson’s?

  • Optimal Food Choices: A high-nutrient diet supports overall health. People with Parkinson’s benefit from a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon and mackerel, can be beneficial. It’s also important to stay hydrated.
    • Fiber Intake: Constipation is a common issue in Parkinson’s, so a high-fiber diet can help. This includes foods like whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.
    • Bone Health: Parkinson’s can increase the risk of osteoporosis, so calcium and vitamin D are important. Sources include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and sunlight exposure for vitamin D synthesis.
  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise helps maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and balance. Activities like walking, tai chi, and yoga can be particularly beneficial.
  • Mental Well-being: Stress management and mental health are crucial. Practices like meditation, mindfulness, or engaging in hobbies can help manage stress and improve mood.
    • Social Engagement: Staying socially active supports emotional health. Joining support groups or engaging in community activities can be beneficial.
  • Regular Sleep: Parkinson’s can disrupt sleep, so practicing good sleep hygiene is important. This includes maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, and avoiding caffeine and electronics before bed.
  • Limiting Alcohol and Tobacco: Reducing intake of alcohol and avoiding tobacco can help manage symptoms.
  • Safety Measures at Home: To prevent falls, it’s important to ensure a safe living environment. This might involve installing grab bars in bathrooms, removing tripping hazards, and ensuring good lighting.

For people with Parkinson’s disease, certain nutritional supplements may help manage symptoms and support overall health. Here are some commonly recommended supplements that may be particularly helpful in supporting Parkinson’s:

  • Multivitamin: Your multivitamin should provide the following nutrients:
    • B Vitamins: Particularly B12 and folate, as they are essential for nerve health and cognitive function. People with Parkinson’s may have higher requirements for these vitamins.
    • B6 Caution: Vitamin B6 in high doses can reduce the effectiveness of Levodopa, so supplements containing large amounts of this vitamin should be avoided.
      Vitamin B12: “PD patients with vitamin B12 levels <587 ng/L were 5.4 times more likely to develop dementia, with 50% having dementia within 5 years of PD diagnosis compared with 11% in those with a vitamin B12 level of ≥587 ng/L (p < 0.05).” [PMID: 32203914]
    • Folate: Folate, as well as B12 supplementation, reduces elevated homocysteine, a marker of inflammation. [PMID: 33992189][PMC10628521]
    • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency is common in Parkinson’s patients and can contribute to bone health issues and possibly worsen symptoms. Supplementing with vitamin D may help improve these aspects. Vitamin D deficiency seems to be related to disease severity and disease progression. [PMC8953648]
    • Zinc: Important for overall brain health, zinc supplementation is considered by some, particularly if dietary intake is inadequate. Parkinson’s patients have lower zinc levels and greater symptoms of zinc deficiency. [PMID: 10100031]
    • Selenium: An antioxidant that may help protect neurons. [PMID: 37995510] [PMID: 27556332]
    • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that can help combat oxidative stress in the brain, though high doses should be avoided as they may have adverse effects. [PMID: 28342967]
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): An antioxidant that may help with oxidative stress. NAC is shown to improve dopamine function along with significantly improved PD symptoms (P < 0.0001). [PMID: 31206613]
  • Mucuna Pruriens: Contains natural levodopa, a precursor to dopamine, which is depleted in Parkinson’s disease. Some patients use it as a natural alternative to synthetic levodopa medications. [PMC5539737]
  • Curcumin (from Turmeric): Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin might have neuroprotective benefits in Parkinson’s. [PMC8537234] A study of 19 patients with PD showed a significant effect of curcumin supplementation in decreasing the worsening of the Parkinson’s symptoms. [PMC9210322]
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish oil, these fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and are believed to support overall brain health. Use of 1000 mg of flaxseed oil with 400 mg Vitamin E was also effective in improving Parkinson’s symptoms. [PMID: 28342967]
  • Melatonin: Helpful for sleep disturbances, which are common in Parkinson’s disease. [PMC8855052]
  • Probiotics: Gut health is increasingly recognized as important in Parkinson’s as constipation is a very common problem in PD. [PMC10015253] Fiber works synergistically with probiotics in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. [PMC9871263] The gut microbiome affects folate and homocysteine levels in a way that is linked to Parkinson’s development. [PMID: 33657381]
  • Green Tea Extract (EGCG): Rich in antioxidants, specifically epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which may have neuroprotective properties.
  • Magnesium: Can be beneficial for muscle stiffness and cramps, common symptoms in Parkinson’s disease. Magnesium L-Threonate has been shown to more effectively cross the blood-brain barrier. A study of a Parkinson’s animal model showed that Magnesium L-Threonate reduced movement deficits and the loss of dopamine neurons. [PMC6857673]
  • L-Theanine: Found in tea leaves, L-Theanine can promote relaxation and help with anxiety and sleep issues. It also reduced movement deficits in an animal model of Parkinson’s. [PMID: 34210222]
  • Ginkgo Biloba: Sometimes suggested for cognitive issues, though The evidence of ginko’s effectiveness in Parkinson’s is limited to animal models. [PMID: 35532872]
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Used for its potential neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing properties. Animal models show it to be effective in Parkinson’s. [PMC5987239]
  • Ashwagandha: An adaptogenic herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, it’s believed to have stress-reducing and neuroprotective effects. [PMC10147008]
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): Some individuals with Parkinson’s use CBD for its potential to alleviate symptoms such as pain, sleep disturbances, and anxiety, although research is still emerging.

What Supplements Didn’t Work for Parkinson’s?

  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Some studies suggest CoQ10 might help in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease due to its role in mitochondrial function and its antioxidant properties. However, a 2016 review of blinded studies showed no benefit in symptoms or slowing functional decline. [PMID: 26553164]
  • Creatine: Has shown some potential in neuroprotective studies, but has not been shown to be effective in Parkinson’s disease specifically. [PMC4349346]

Parkinson’s Medications and Their Interactions with Food

Managing Parkinson’s disease involves medications, and understanding how these interact with certain nutrients and supplements is important. Each type of Parkinson’s medication can have different interactions, which necessitates careful food and supplement choices.

  • Levodopa/Carbidopa:
    • Protein: Protein-rich foods can interfere with the absorption of Levodopa. Choose lower protein foods during the time of day when medication is needed most. Eat extra protein at night to help meet nutritional needs.
    • Take on an Empty Stomach: It’s recommended to take this medication either 30 minutes before or 60 minutes after meals.
    • Vitamin B6: In high doses, B6 can reduce the effectiveness of Levodopa, so supplements containing large amounts of this vitamin should be avoided.
  • Dopamine Agonists (e.g., Ropinirole, Pramipexole): While specific nutrient interactions are less prominent with dopamine agonists, these medications can cause drowsiness.
  • MAO-B Inhibitors (e.g., Selegiline, Rasagiline): These medications can interact with tyramine-rich foods, like aged cheeses and certain processed meats, leading to potentially dangerous blood pressure spikes.
  • COMT Inhibitors (e.g., Entacapone): There are no specific dietary restrictions with COMT inhibitors, but they can enhance the side effects of Levodopa, so the same dietary considerations for Levodopa/Carbidopa apply.
  • Anticholinergics (e.g., Trihexyphenidyl): These medications can cause dry mouth and constipation, so a diet high in fiber with plenty of fluids is beneficial. Fiber supplements can also help, but they should be taken a few hours apart from the medication to avoid interference with absorption.
  • Amantadine: This medication can cause dry mouth and constipation, similar to anticholinergics. A diet rich in fiber and fluids is advised.

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article aims to offer valuable insights into which nutritional supplements have undergone scientific study and shown promise in supporting specific health conditions. We break down the research, so you can work with your medical providers to make informed decisions about adding supplements to your health regimen. For personalized advice tailored to your needs, we recommend consulting with a registered dietitian in addition to your primary care provider.

Check with your physician when adding supplements. While supplements are generally safe for most people, do not add nutritional supplements without your physician’s specific approval if you are pregnant or nursing, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a history of organ transplant, liver or kidney disease, or take medications that interact with supplements.

Order Supplements For Managing Parkinson’s

Why Professionals Choose the Fullscript Formulary

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Supplement Safety Information

When considering nutritional supplements for Parkinson’s disease, safety is a paramount concern. Generally, these supplements are regarded as safe when used appropriately and under professional guidance. They are often derived from natural sources and are designed to complement traditional medical treatments, not replace them. It’s crucial, however, to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen. This ensures that the supplements will not interfere with prescribed medications or exacerbate any existing health conditions. Additionally, obtaining supplements from reputable sources is important to guarantee their quality and efficacy

Medication Interactions:

  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): May cause hypotension and headaches when combined with Nitroglycerin.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D absorption can be reduced by weight loss drugs like orlistat.
  • Mucuna Pruriens: Can cause high blood pressure when used with MAO Inhibitors and can interfere with the action of Antipsychotics due to its levodopa content.
  • B Vitamins: May interact with certain Chemotherapy Drugs and can also interact with some Antibiotics, especially B9 and B12.
  • Vitamin B12: Its absorption can be decreased with long-term use of Metformin and can also be decreased by Proton Pump Inhibitors.
  • Folate: Can interfere with Methotrexate’s effect as chemotherapy and can interact with Antiepileptic Drugs affecting folate metabolism.
  • Vitamin E: Can potentiate the effects of warfarin and other blood thinners and may reduce the effectiveness of Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments.
  • Curcumin (from Turmeric): Enhances the effects of anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs and can intensify the effects of Diabetes Medications, leading to hypoglycemia.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Increase bleeding risk when taken with blood thinners and can excessively lower blood pressure in combination with Blood Pressure Medications.
  • Melatonin: Increases the sedative effect of Sedative Medications (CNS Depressants) and can affect blood pressure control when used with Blood Pressure Medications.
  • Probiotics: Can interact with Immunosuppressants affecting immune system function and reduce the effectiveness of Antibiotics.
  • Green Tea Extract (EGCG): Increases stimulation and heart rate when used with Stimulant Drugs and increases the risk of bleeding with Blood Thinners.
  • Magnesium: Can interact with certain Antibiotics and affect magnesium levels when used with some Diuretics.
  • L-Theanine: Decreases the effectiveness of Stimulant Medications and can interfere with blood pressure control when used with Blood Pressure Medications.
  • Zinc: Interferes with the absorption of certain Antibiotics and can interact with Penicillamine, used for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Selenium: Can interact with the effectiveness of some Chemotherapy Drugs and affect selenium levels in the body when used with Statins and Beta-blockers.
  • Ashwagandha: Enhances the sedative effects of Sedatives (CNS Depressants) and can increase thyroid hormone levels, requiring monitoring when used with Thyroid Hormone.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: Increases the risk of bleeding when used with Blood Thinners and can interfere with the effectiveness of Seizure Medications.
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Can affect blood sugar levels when used with Diabetic Medications and may increase the risk of bleeding with Anticoagulants.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): Interacts and affects the levels of Antiepileptic Drugs and increases bleeding risk when used with Blood Thinners.

Supplement Interactions:

  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): May alter the effects of other antioxidants when combined.
  • Vitamin D: Can lead to magnesium depletion in high doses and needs balancing with calcium supplements to avoid hypercalcemia.
  • Mucuna Pruriens: Can interact with supplements affecting dopamine levels, such as L-Theanine.
  • B Vitamins: Potential interaction with Vitamin E, affecting antioxidant balance.
  • Vitamin B12: High doses can mask folate deficiency symptoms when taken together.
  • Folate: Works in tandem with Vitamin B12, necessitating careful balancing when supplemented together.
  • Vitamin E: High doses can interfere with the absorption of other fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and K.
  • Curcumin (from Turmeric): May enhance the effects of other anti-inflammatory supplements.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Can interact with Vitamin E, both having blood-thinning properties.
  • Melatonin: May interact with supplements having sedative properties, such as Ashwagandha and L-Theanine.
  • Probiotics: Can interact with supplements that affect gut flora.
  • Green Tea Extract (EGCG): Can reduce iron absorption when taken with iron supplements and may interact with stimulant supplements due to caffeine content.
  • Magnesium: Competes for absorption with calcium supplements and high doses may interfere with absorption of minerals like zinc.
  • L-Theanine: Interactions possible with stimulant or sedative supplements, potentially enhancing or diminishing their effects.
  • Zinc: Competes for absorption with copper and iron supplements.
  • Selenium: High doses can interfere with the absorption of other minerals.
  • Ashwagandha: Potential interactions with sedatives and thyroid supplements.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: Can enhance the effects of supplements that thin blood, like Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Limited documentation on interactions, but caution advised with other cognitive supplements.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): Interacts with supplements affecting the central nervous system, like melatonin and L-Theanine.

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

What Lab Tests Might Be Helpful In Managing Parkinson’s?

Managing Parkinson’s disease often involves a combination of clinical assessments and laboratory tests to monitor overall health and the progression of the condition. Certain tests can be helpful in managing the disease:

  • Blood Tests: These can rule out other conditions that may mimic Parkinson’s symptoms. They can check for various factors, including vitamin and mineral levels (like Vitamin D and B12), liver and kidney function, and thyroid function.
  • Uric Acid Levels: Some studies suggest that uric acid levels might be associated with Parkinson’s progression, but more research is needed in this area.

To Sum It Up

Nutritional supplements offer a promising adjunct to traditional treatments for Parkinson’s disease. From potentially alleviating symptoms to possibly slowing disease progression, these supplements, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, could play a significant role in a comprehensive management plan. However, it’s important to remember that while supplements can provide benefits, they are not a cure and should be used in conjunction with prescribed medications and therapies. Given the complexities of Parkinson’s and the individual nature of its progression, consulting a Registered Dietitian is crucial. A dietitian can provide personalized advice on supplement use, ensuring it aligns with your overall health needs and medical treatments. We encourage readers to seek further information and guidance from a Registered Dietitian to make informed decisions about using nutritional supplements for Parkinson’s disease.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

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