What Is Parkinson's Disease?

The name of this disease is well known, but what is Parkinson's disease? Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a brain disorder, classified as a disease, that causes its sufferers to have trouble with:

  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Walking

Men are 50% more likely to be diagnosed with PD, and with Parkinson’s disease, early symptoms can vary from person to person. Progressive in nature, many people will only have a slight tremor in their one hand initially, but over time, they’ll start to notice significant muscle stiffness and slowing mobility.

Parkinson's Disease Causes

what is parkinsons disease spelled out in different color letters next to pill bottles stethoscope

PD is a disease that results in the impairment or death of your neurons or nerve cells that control movement. As a result of this cell death, the body produces less dopamine, which leads to mobility issues.

Additionally, norepinephrine production, produced by your nerve endings, is also lost and are responsible for many of the body’s natural functions, such as:

  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate

The root of Parkinson's disease causes remains unknown. But there are some risk factors that are associated with Parkinson’s disease:

  • Some cases are hereditary
  • Exposure to toxins

Gene mutations and variations seem to increase the risk of PD. Age is also a factor, with most people diagnosed with the condition being 60 years old or older.

Parkinson's Disease Early Symptoms

Early signs are very mild, and most people overlook them. The symptoms often start on one side of the body before progressing to both sides of the body. In most cases, if the symptoms occur on one side of the body first, that specific side will always experience more significant symptoms.

The signs and symptoms that you may experience are likely to include one or more of the following:

  • Tremors that occur most often in the fingers or toes or shaking are more common.
  • Stiffness or rigidity of the muscles in any part of the body. The stiffness may impact your range of motion or can be painful.
  • Movement may be slowed, resulting in you walking slower or even having difficulty getting out of chairs.
  • Balance issues often occur, leading to unsteadiness.
  • Automatic movement loss can occur later on as the disease progresses and may include the inability to blink or even smile.
  • Speech changes may also occur as the disease progresses, leading to slurred, rapid, or hesitated speech.

Depression, difficulty swallowing, sleep disruption, skin and urinary problems, speaking issues, and problems chewing are all additional symptoms that may occur. 

It's not uncommon for PD sufferers to believe that their early symptoms are natural and just a part of the aging process. Due to the early symptoms being subtle and gradual, people often wait to visit their doctor.

Diagnosing the condition is difficult and there are no specific medical tests that can indicate whether you have the disease. Doctors will need to examine you and learn more about your symptoms before a diagnosis can be given.

Managing Parkinson’s Disease Naturally

what is parkinsons disease nurse helping a woman using a walking both smiling

Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured, and if you suspect that you or a loved one are suffering from the disease, it’s important to go to the doctor for an official diagnosis. Your doctor may prescribe you medications that can help control motor function, improve dopamine levels and relieve some of your symptoms.

Surgical treatments may also be recommended, and additional forms of therapy may also help provide relief.

Natural Ways to Alleviate Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

A few of the many natural ways to alleviate your symptoms are:


A 2015 randomized controlled study showed significant improvements in participant’s quality of life and physiological functions for people that had stage 1 or 2 PD. Immediate tremor reduction was one of the most common benefits along with positive symptom changes as a whole.

Massage Therapy

A 2016 study looked at massage’s ability to alleviate the symptoms of PD. The study’s researchers concluded that massage therapy helped reduce both postural and resting tremors in patients that had been dealing with PD for a long period of time.

Temporary reduction in rigidity was also noted, but the reduction was not long-lasting, according to researchers.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Multiple studies on CBD and its ability to help alleviate the symptoms of PD are ongoing. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that CBD may be able to help alleviate symptoms, including: 

  • Some evidence CBD may help reduce dyskinetic activity and also help treat the motor symptoms of people with PD.
  • One study from 2018 suggests that CBD may be able to help treat movement disorders and also play a protective role.

A lot of sufferers suggest that CBD has helped them reduce muscle tremors. For some people, they claim that CBD was very effective during stage 1, 2 and 3 of PD, but afterward, the CBD was less effective.

Dietary Changes

The Michael J. Fox Foundation recommends avoiding certain foods that may impact the medications that you take for PD. Fox suffers from PD, and recommends a low protein diet and cutting out the following foods:

  • Aged cheese
  • Cured or fermented meats or fish
  • Beer or wine
  • Soy products
  • Iron supplements

The foundation also recommends consuming fruits and vegetables, which may play a role in protecting nerve function and control the symptoms of PD. If PD is impacting a person’s bowel movements, adding in additional fiber can help, too.

There are also a lot of foods that you can add to your diet that may be able to help you combat some of your symptoms:

  • Oxidative stress is thought to be one of the main triggers of PD, which makes symptoms worse. A diet high in antioxidants can help alleviate this stress, including the following: kale, spinach, blueberries and blackberries, tomatoes, peppers, pecans, walnuts, elderberries, and numerous others.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, found in many fish and flax seeds, may help improve cognitive function while also protecting against some secondary symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as confusion and dementia.
  • High-fiber foods, such as beans, can also encourage healthy bowel movements.

Recognizing Parkinson’s disease early symptoms can help you start treating the condition and your symptoms early on. While some of the natural treatment methods above may help you cull your symptoms, working with a physician to manage your symptoms is recommended.

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