Parkinson's Disease

What Causes Parkinson's Disease?

In order to manage Parkinson's disease we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow Parkinson's disease symptoms to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind Parkinson's disease consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to Parkinson's disease symptoms.  Here are six possibilities:
  • Metal Toxicity
  • Cocaine Addiction
  • Lyme Disease*
  • Antioxidant Need
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Senile Dementia
* symptoms can be very similar

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
low aerobic exercise level
occasional confusion/disorientation
much reduced sense of smell
constant fatigue
possible Alzheimer's disease
joint pain/swelling/stiffness
aluminum-based antacid use
migrating arthritis
migraine headaches
Alzheimer's in family members
severe chest pain
very high fat/oil intake
... and more than 20 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of Parkinson's disease symptoms:
Cause Probability Status
Alzheimer's Disease 94% Confirm
Cocaine Addiction 73% Possible
Metal Toxicity 12% Unlikely
Antioxidant Need 3% Ruled out
Lyme Disease** 0% Ruled out
Senile Dementia 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process
** Symptoms can be very similar

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having muscle problems / disease, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you have Parkinson's Disease?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ There is good reason to believe I have it
→ Doctors think I might have it
→ I have been diagnosed with it
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate possible Parkinson's disease, suspected Parkinson's disease or confirmed Parkinson's disease, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Alzheimer's Disease

A study published in 2003 in The Archives of Neurology found that people who rapidly develop symptoms of Parkinson's disease may be up to 8 times as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.  The study found that the physical symptoms of Parkinson's disease are linked to a decline in mental functioning as seen in Alzheimer's disease.  About 15% of Parkinson's disease victims eventually develop Alzheimer's disease, and another 15% develop other forms of dementia.

Lyme Disease

Differentiating neuropsychiatric Lyme disease from a primary psychiatric disorder can be a daunting task.  Functional brain imaging and neuropsychological testing can be particularly valuable in helping to make diagnostic distinctions.

Senile Dementia

Memory impairment and cognitive dysfunction are rarely encountered in early stage Parkinson's disease.  However, about 30% of Parkinson's disease victims eventually develop Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

Antioxidant Requirement

The question as to what causes the destruction of the dopamine-producing cells has puzzled researchers for years but a consensus is now emerging that Parkinson's disease is caused by oxidative stress and metal toxicity.  The idea that oxidative stress, i.e. an excess of free radicals in the body, can cause disease was first brought forward in 1983.  Numerous studies have shown that Parkinson's disease victims have low levels of natural antioxidants (glutathione and superoxide dismutase) and high levels of iron in the substantia nigra areas of their brains.  It is believed that iron helps catalyze the free radical reactions that destroy the dopamine-producing cells.

Cocaine Addiction

Some researchers believe that cocaine could spark the early onset of Parkinson's disease by causing the body to exhaust its supply of dopamine prematurely.

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Metals such as iron, manganese, cadmium, copper, and mercury (from dental amalgams) have been implicated as causative factors in the development of Parkinson's disease.

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