I have a Parkinson’s Disease and dopamine related question: First, I was astounded to read that only 1/3 of PD autopsies indicated degeneration of the substantia nigra. There is no history of PD in my family, so I immediately thought I could well be one of the misdiagnosed 2/3 -even though I underwent the full battery of tests to rule out other possible problems.
My specific question for you is about the efficacy of PD drugs as an indicator. I believe I was told at the onset that if the PD medication controls my symptoms, then I indeed have PD. If PD medication does nothing, I may only have Parkinsonism. What is your opinion?
Without knowing the science behind this, I still believe miracles big and small happen every day, and I don’t believe PD is a permanent fixture in my life. Last month I proved to myself that attitude is everything: Reflecting back, I realized that I felt much worse on July 29, 2009 than I did on July 27, 2009. Nothing had changed except that I was told I may have PD. So, early last month, I decided to host a festive funeral for my PD, complete with a decorative shovel and a champagne toast. I have felt more capable and optimistic ever since! My symptoms are still present, but I know I already buried my PD, so it can’t be that!
In closing, I simply want to thank you for your precious work and the hope and optimism left in its wake.
Response to Parkinsons Disease Question:
What an amazing report! You are indeed on the road to recovery. There is certainly no question that our thoughts are the most powerful force on earth. If we think we are sick, we remain sick. If we think we are well, we become well. If we think we are on the road to recovery, we feel better and better over time. If we feel all the dopamine producing cells in our body are dead, we give up and reserve a bed in our neighborhood nursing home.
My research reveals that there is badly mistaken thinking about Parkinsons (which will soon be archaic my work and others spreads like wildfire). Here is the mistaken logic:
The body has a given number of cells that produce dopamine. In some people – these cells begin to die off like soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
By the time 80% are of these dopamine cells are dead the person has neurological symptoms that are destined to get worse and worse over time. They are diagnosed with a condition known as Parkinson’s Disease. The only hope is to fill this sadly malfunctioning body with dopamine because it is not capable of producing dopamine on its own.
This simplistic view does not match with my observations as a researcher. Why? I have interviewed hundreds and hundreds of persons with Parkinson’s. Some of the interviews have been aired on my radio show. People tell me the same story over and over but the details differ here and there. Here is a prototype of the story I hear everyday.
I loved to play ping pong when I was young. I gave it up years ago because I was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease One day – don’t ask me why – I decided to try and play ping pong again. Why not after all. It is a degenerative condition right?
Once I put the paddle in my hand and started playing all of my symptoms vanished. I could play as well as when I was 20 years old. No one could tell I had Parkinsons if they were watching me play. When I stop playing the symptoms return.
In the report above I used the word ping pong. You can substitute dozens of other activities; e.g. – kick boxing, painting, singing, woodworking, tennis. martial arts. The list is endless.
Now I ask you and all others reading this now: How could the body return to a state of balance and harmony and be producing all the dopamine needed to maintain a steady hand to play ping pong and move seeminglessly if 80% of the dopamine producing cells in the body were dead? Duh – Of course it could not.
Of course – a small percentage of persons do have a deterioration of dopamine producing cells. Me research reveals that most people do not.
Why is it you ask when dopamine producing medicine is given symptoms are controlled in the short run? The problem is not a dopamine production problem. It is an access problem. The body is not able to activate the pathways necessary to produce dopamine because the pathways needed by the body to manufacture dopamine are obstructed for one reason or another.
Instead of giving a scientific explanation permit me to explain the problem the body confronts by way of an analogy.
Imagine if you will that you and I are traveling down main street in Olympia, Washington to play ping pong at the YMCA. We encounter an unexpected road block and cannot get through town. The road is closed. We peek ahead and see that there is an accident involving two cars that are badly twisted.
The road we are traveling on on is analogous to one of our many neural pathways. The blockage we confront is a trauma that we have experienced in our life or a toxin or a bacteria that has invaded our body. The body physically contorts inside when confronted with any of these three obstacles (i.e. – trauma, toxins or bacteria). Unless we set our intention to remove the obstacles, the blockage will remain though we may be able to pass partially push our way through the blockage. Or, we can always take a detour which unfortunately creates an uncomfortable twist in the pathway.
We take our detour and run into another road block. This time there is slippery gunk on the road way – toxins that have spilled from a gas truck that overturned. These are analogous to the toxins in our body that are making it impossible for the delicate signaling system to function in our neurological system.
We turn the car off to wait, then decide to turn the car back on and take another detour. Oops – the car will not start because the alternator is broken. Sometimes genes that are critical to the function of the hormonal system are shut down, genes like COMP. If that turns out to be the case, you simply have to wake the sleepy genes up.
Some people falsely belief that if a gene is “defective” you might as well pack your suitcase and head for your neighborhood nursing home now because there is no hope. That idea too will be seen as middle ages thinking as the ability of the body to repair genes is better understood.
We got lucky and find ourselves stuck next to a repair garage and are lucky to get a replacement alternator for the car in 15 minutes. We start her up again, turn around and take another detour. A mile down the road we confront a mother hen and her 12 chicks crossing the road. Unfortunately, they are not interested in reaching the other side. Rather, they have a dedicated preference to hang out in the middle of the road, blocking our ability to pass.
A hen and her chicks on our journey to the ping pong courts is a symbol of all the critters in our body that can obstruct the pathways the body needs to access to produce dopamine. Which critters? The list includes among others bacteria, viruses and fungus in the form of candida. These critters are living entities in our body that a conscious of their own.
If we do not find a way to invite them to leave the roadway (and our body) the neural pathways in our body will be littered with obstructions.
Once we arrive at our destination at the ping pong courts our bodies relax. Stress dissolves. We are finally ready to have some fun. Our bodies are finally able to relax from the our series of roadblocks on our journey to the ping pong courts. The same type of obstructions occur over flashes of time as neurological signalling is sent and received.
What does it really mean when dopamine supplements are given to a person who confronts one or more of the roadblocks above? Some people do feel better. The good news is that they can function normally sometimes for years. But the problems that are causing the symptoms are not addressed with dopamine supplements.
Dopamine does not heal the trauma. It continues to linger. Dopamine does not release the toxins. They too still hide out in the crevices of our body. And, dopamine does not kill the harmful bacteria in the body. They too continue to thrive inside the body (where it is warm and cozy) and not outside (where it is cold and dangerous).
Supplementation of dopamine (whether through medications or supplements) overrides the normal operating system used by the body to manufacture and access dopamine.
To clarify – the ping pong courts were sitting there waiting for us to use them. We just discovered that access was obstructed by an accident (trauma), an oil spill (toxins) and the chickens hanging out in the road war (critters). We are lucky if we get to play ping pong because all of our symptoms dissolve when we do.
If instead we get so frustrated with all the road blocks, we may simply give up our plan to play ping pong. It is just too difficult to get there. (Note – this is what happens to so many people who give up the activities they enjoy so passionately.)
We may decide instead to stop at the bakery and have dessert full of sugar and genetically modified wheat. When we arrive back home, we feel horrible and have to go to bed,
The problem in summary is not a dopamine deficiency. It is a problem of access to dopamine. Help the body with the access problem and the symptoms will fade away into the sunset.
Robert Rodgers, PhD.
Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease