I was diagnosed early stage PD last January and have been on Sinemet ever since. I wasn”t seeing any definitive response to the med which my doctor saw as troubling, suspecting that might mean I had Parkinson’s plus… a grimmer diagnosis that simple Parkinsons. We worked up to 7 pills per day, which is a lot to start off with.
I felt better but honestly I myself wasn”t 100% sure it was because of the meds, because by that time (now i was 6 months post dx) I had gone beyond the shock and initial depression I had experienced upon initial diagnosis and was heavily into alternative treatments… (acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage, exercise, twice weekly yoga, rest, meditation, Reiki, etc). reading your book was extremely helpful and inspiring. Facing my own deeper negative thought patterns was critical… particularly the belief that i wasn”t really ever going to recover.
My old energy has returned. Although I am not symptom free I do feel better as I learn how to take charge of my health more and more every day. Slowly I have come to believe in my capacity to recover. what a journey!
2 months ago I started gradually reducing my daily Sinemet from the peak of 7 pills to now 3, ramping it down half a pill per week. I plan on continuing this as long as I feel well, intending to get off it altogether several more weeks from now. Obviously I am pleased with this development, and recognize there will likely be more hurdles to overcome as I go forward. the point is I am ready for the challenge.
Is there any evidence or information about the benefits of massage for people with Parkinsons?
What a large question which consumes one tiny sentence! I talk with people with Parkinsons who get massages regularly to help them release stress. To the extent that any therapy helps you release trauma and stress, you can rest assured your symptoms will become less bothersome.
Keep in mind that massage is a general term for many different therapies. People have told me that deep tissue massage is not helpful. The reason? I suspect that it is much too invasive. The body clamps down muscles in response to the intrusion.
If massage is coupled with energy healing (reiki, healing touch, energy healing), the therapist is much more likely to be gentle with the body’s response to the treatment as they invite the trauma and stress to be released. In my own experience. everything depends on the therapist.
I would say this very simply: There is a massage therapist out there in the universe who can be of benefit to you. Your job is to find them. You will know them when you get a first treatment.
So, even if you experiment with a massage and feel it did not help, stay on the lookout for someone else to get a treatment from. You will recognize the right person for you when you see them.
The bottom line is this: If the massage is intended to relax you – it will have benefits. If the massage is intended to release stress and trauma – it too will have benefits.
There is another benefit as well. Asking someone to help you is very therapeutic. I believe we can’t heal ourselves from the traumas of life. We have to ask for help from others. Besides, it is a great gift to give yourself.
What follows is a brief summary of some of the research and current thoughts about massage:
A study on massage:
Parkinson’s disease symptoms are differentially affected by massage therapy vs. progressive muscle relaxation: a pilot study
Maria Hernandez-Reifa, Tiffany Fielda, Shay Largiea, Christy Cullena, Julia Beutlera, Chris Sandersa, William Weinerb, Dinorah Rodriguez-Batemanb, Lisette Zelayab, Saul Schanberc, Cynthia Kuhnc
“Sixteen adults diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (M age=58) received 30-min massage therapy or progressive muscle relaxation exercise sessions twice a week for 5 weeks (10 sessions total). Physicians rated participants in the massage therapy group as improved in daily living activities by the end of the study. The massaged group also rated themselves as improved in daily functioning, and having more effective and less disturbed sleep. Urine samples revealed that at the end of the 10 sessions, the massage therapy group had lower norepinephrine and epinephrine (stress hormone) levels, suggesting they were less stressed. The progressive muscle relaxation group had higher dopamine levels, which is interesting in that Parkinson’s is associated with a decrease in dopamine. The relaxation group also showed higher epinephrine levels, suggesting that although the relaxation exercises might have been beneficial, some Parkinson’s participants might have found the relaxation technique stressful.”
A research article on massage:
This study reports that spa therapy involving massage is beneficial for people with the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Website on massage:
This website specifically addresses the benefits of massage for people with the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
I had a fascinating interview
with Dr. John Coleman, ND,
this week. John was diagnosed
with Parkinson’s in 1995, but
after experimenting and trying
a wide variety of healing modalities
he is symptom free today.
I was curious about what
approaches and therapies John
tried – and he experimented with
many modalities – that did
not work for him. Here was
Robert Rodgers: “Which therapies
and approaches did not help relieve
John Coleman: “There were a lot.
In general, any form of body work
that was firm or hard. Deep
tissue massage, sports massage –
those sorts of massages – created
extra pain. Vigorous therapies
like chiropractic and other
manipulative therapies also
tended to increase my
symptoms and create pain.”
“Excessive intake of nutritional
supplements tended to have no
effect or make me nauseous or
simply be a waste of money. I
had to be very careful about
homeopathic remedies because
the normal approach in selecting
potencies and frequencies seemed
to aggravate me where a very
gentle, a very cautious approached
“Many counseling modalities helped.
Psychiatry did not. I am sure there
are good psychiatrists out there,
but I saw four and none of them
helped me at all. Antidepressant
therapy did not work.”
“I choose not to take pharmaceuticals,
but other forms of herbal, vitamin
homeopathic remedies for depression,
but I realized I actually was not
depressed. I was certainly anxious,
but the antidepressant therapies were
just no good for me.
“I needed to be active and proactive
in my approach. In general, anything
that was too hard, too vigorous, too
enthusiastic didn’t work, and gentle,
cautious, loving therapies worked.”
John offers a powerful 12 Step
Parkinsons Recovery Program
that is designed for anyone with
Parkinson’s who is looking for
ways to get relief from their
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
© 2008 Parkinsons Recovery
“While I’m new to the PD world (diagnosed 12/07),
I’ve been “experimenting” with meditative and
action techniques to help me cope…
Brief background: I hold a pair of Masters
degrees, was, until recently, Head Librarian
at Ohio University-Chillicothe (Ohio) campus,
and have an extensive background in
Zen meditation/Martial Arts–I hold Dan
rank in Karate-do, have been a member of
US teams in international MA competitions,
“My feelings/findings, so far:”
1. “Karate or any other “hard” art is “out”–
I get dizzy, confused, even while performing
2. “Zazen (meditation) is effective, as long as my discomfort
level with PD and its effects doesn’t prevent
me from “going deep”.”
3. “My wife and I have joined a local Lutheran
“Centering Prayer” group; the combination of
Zazen and Do-Zen, sitting in meditative prayer,
then moving silently, is effective in helping me
to “forget” the PD and its effects and to
relax… While moving in the Sanctuary of the
church, I have had good results from
“gathering Chi” and “spinning Chi” with my
hands while walking.”
4. “I have started getting massages, which
help to relax my body IMMENSELY. The
massager is tuned in to MA theories and
practices, by the way, which helps…
He has commented that my high tolerance
for pain helps him perform the massages,
since I don’t flinch (MANY years of MA
“torture” to account for that!).”
“Oh, I’m 60 years of age…”
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
© 2008 Parkinsons Recovery