My research over the past decadeÂ has identified dozens of therapiesÂ that help people reverse the symptoms associatedÂ with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Therapies that
show resounding success for some people fizzle for others.
The surprise discovery is that many therapies help. Great. Â OK. What do these therapies all have in common?
My answer may surprise you. Therapies that help people healÂ from neurological difficulties offer ways to settle and calmÂ the sympathetic nervous system. This opens the opportunity
for the parasympathetic nervous system to function as designed.
We all exert control over our sympathetic nervous system.Â When we confront a hungry bear on the wilderness trail while hiking, weÂ activate an instant rush of adrenaline to address the challenge. Â Our response may be to fight, freeze or flight.
When the sympathetic nervous system is constantly churningÂ and, for some with Parkinson’s symptoms, churning its gears on overdrive,Â the parasympathetic nervous system becomes overwhelmed. Both are necessary forÂ the body function and survive.
The challenge for people with Parkinson’s symptoms is thatÂ the sympathetic nervous system is almost always dominating the parasympathetic Â nervous system. In other words, the good guy here (the parasympatheticÂ nervous system) is smothered by the bad guy (the sympathetic nervous system).
How does this play out moment to moment? People who experience Parkinson’sÂ symptoms often have spurts of anxiety, panic attacks or are continuouslyÂ stressed out with unfounded worries, unrealistic fears or negative thinking thatÂ scares the heck out of them. The churning of anxiety pumps out theÂ hormones like adrenalineÂ that stirs excitation throughout the body – so much so that the nervous
system is overstimulated.
Over the long haul deep ruts are carved in the neural pathwaysÂ which eventually causes the myelin sheaths that cover and protect them to thin. The protective insulationÂ is compromised. A type of “shorting out” occurs just as an electrical circuitÂ short circuits when the insulation covering on the raw wires is exposed.
What then do all of the therapies that help people reverse their symptoms haveÂ in common? One therapy or another helps calm down the sympatheticÂ nervous system so that it is not continuously running on overdrive. A body that is continuously running at a furious pace never has anÂ opportunity to rest and rejuvenate. The resting state (the parasympathetic stateÂ which is automatic and effortless) gets a little tender loving support
when the sympathetic nervous system is quieted.
The bottom line is this. If you find yourself being nervous and anxious most of the day and night your body will never get the opportunity to rejuvenate and heal itself.Â Best to let off the steam of the sympathetic nervous system by embracing a therapy that helps reduce its intensity.
Robert Rodgers PhD
Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease