Iron toxicity may well be a contributing factor to symptoms associated with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
The problem of iron deficiencies is well known. Your body needs iron to:
- Help hemoglobin in blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body.
- Make red blood cells.
- Produce certain hormones.
Normally, your intestines absorb just the right amount of iron from the food you eat. But with hemochromatosis, the body absorbs extra iron and stores it in your organs, especially your heart, liver, and brain.
When it comes to Parkinson’s symptoms, the problem is not so much an iron deficiency. It is a unhealthy accumulation of too much iron in your brain. This causes the death of brain cells that produce dopamine.
There have been a burst of studies that have documented the effects of iron as a factor that contributes to Parkinson’s symptoms. Ferroptosis is a type of cell death described less than a decade ago. It is caused by the excess of free intracellular iron. Iron is essential as a redox metal in several physiological functions. The brain is one of the organs known to be affected by iron homeostatic balance disruption. Since the 1960s, increased concentration of iron in the central nervous system has been known to create oxidative stress, oxidation of proteins and lipids, and cell death.
Does Everyone with Symptoms have an Excess of Iron?
No. But some do have this problem and it is a significant contributor to symptoms.
An inherited genetic condition is the most common cause. It’s called primary hemochromatosis, hereditary hemochromatosis or classical hemochromatosis. With primary hemochromatosis, problems with the DNA come from both parents and cause the body to absorb too much iron. In other words, the body cannot convert iron to the form needed to perform essential body functions.
If this condition applies to you, an iron chelator of one form or another might be considered. There is a medically prescribed chelator that your doctor may be willing to consider (though not specifically indicated as a treatment for Parkinson’s).
Deferiprone is a prescription iron chelator indicated for the treatment of patients with certain types of iron overload due to thalassemia syndromes when other chelation therapies prove inadequate. Your doctor may not be willing to prescribe this without clear evidence of iron toxicity in the brain which can be difficult to document.
I would not recommend going this route as a first step, partly because everyone does not have this genetic configuration. Rather. I would recommend that you talk with your doctor about using herbal chelators documented to be useful in chelating iron. If you begin to gradually feel better – this may be a primary issue for you. The following can help chelate iron.
- Curcumin (the active ingredient in the traditional herbal remedy and dietary spice turmeric)
- Green Tea.
My guess is that while not everyone has this condition but a surprising number probably do. This option is worth considering if you have had no success with pursuing other options.