Epidemiological studies over the past 50 years have shown a lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease among cigarette smokers. Although this apparent neuroprotective benefit of cigarette smoking has been known for a while, be it due to nicotine or the scores of other chemicals in cigarettes, the mechanism has been poorly understood and the therapeutic implications yet to be taken advantage of in the development of new Parkinson’s disease drugs. The main concern was whether this epidemiological finding was just a coincidence, which although unlikely, had not been clinically verified until the recent years. A new research study conducted at Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Épinière, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, in Paris, France has confirmed the potential benefit of nicotine in Parkinson’s disease by its action on a specific type of receptor on neurons.
Stem cell therapy is growing in popularity globally particularly for neurological disorders and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. Clinics offering stem cell therapy are now accessible globally and with costant advancements in stem cell technology, there is significant hope that it will be the ‘magic bullet’ in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. However, to date there is no reliable evidence to suggest that any available stem cell therapy can cure Parkinson’s disease. This, however, does not mean that stem cell therapy cannot offer some improvement in the condition.
Although in the early stages, the potential use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) holds tremendous possibilities for the future. A significant amount of research is still necessary and the practical application of such a treatment option is probably still a long way. However, the promise of acquiring an undifferentiated stem cell from the patient’s body and then stimulating differentiation into a nerve cell may make this sort of therapy one of the more exciting developments in recent years.
Significant research and several clinical trials have been done regarding the efficacy of gene therapy in Parkinson’s disease (PD). While many claims have been made involving numerous wonder cures for PD, gene therapy may hold the exciting possibility of not only delaying disease progression but also halting it completely.
Surgery may be contemplated in a Parkinson’s disease patient either to control symptoms of the disease or for some cause unrelated to Parkinson’s disease, such as a hip replacement or prostate gland removal. The risks associated with surgery need to be analyzed so as to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks and if surgery is justifiable in such patients. Considerations such as age of the patient, type of surgery, and the stage of Parkinson’s disease should be kept in mind before arriving at a decision.
When considering any type of alternative treatment for Parkinson’s disease, one very important point needs to be kept in mind – there is as yet no cure for Parkinson’s disease. The various treatment options available can only help to treat the symptoms of the disease and provide some degree of relief. Treatment by means other than conventional Western medicine (allopathic medicine) falls under the banner of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). These are considered as natural therapies. Many natural forms of treatment are based on ancient systems of healing as were practiced in India, China, Africa, Tibet, and the Americas.
Parkinson’s disease medicines can be expensive and the financial impact can be devastating in the long term, especially if health insurance is an issue. It is not uncommon for any chronic disease sufferer to seek alternate sources, especially if the more expensive branded medicine may be available at a cheaper rate. However, the possibility should be kept in mind that the drug obtained from such sources is cheaper because it is a counterfeit or fake. This could mean that it may not have all the necessary ingredients, the proportions may be wrong, or it may contain harmful substances. In spite of taking the drugs as prescribed by the doctor, the patient may have slow or no improvement at all or may even deteriorate drastically.
Parkinson’s disease patients, like any other patient, may take an overdose of their prescribed medicines either accidentally or intentionally. A drug dose that is high enough to cause harmful effects on the body is considered as an overdose. Taking more than his prescribed dose of any medicine can affect each individual differently and the effect will also depend upon the type of medicine ingested as well as the quantity. Varying effects may be seen when the medicine is combined with other drugs, alcohol, or if it is taken along with food or on an empty stomach.
Parkinson’s disease is a long term disease where the patient needs to take medicines on a regular basis for relief of the symptoms> It is important for both the Parkinson’s patient and care givers to realize that these medicines might have various types of interactions with other drugs. Some of these drug interactions can be quite severe, therefore additional medicines should be taken only after consulting a doctor.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain where there is progressive depletion of dopamine producing neurons in the substantia nigra, located in the brain. Stem cell therapy may possibly offer a solution as it aims at treating this disease by growing new cells to replace the older degenerated ones.