I am currently researching the links between gut bacteria/micro-organisms and the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, due to the extremely strong evidence now that many instances of PD begin in the gut, as touched on in our article
Based on this, we can therefore assume that if, indeed many forms of PD begin in the gut, and only later migrate to brain, the initiating and causal gut problems will still remain too after the brain damage has occured. We will certainly need to address these digestive tract issues, therefore, if we are ever to fully heal. In my view, even if we could correct the resulting brain problems tomorrow, if we do not also attend to the original causes which reside in gut then we will not be "fixed" for very long.
One of the problem bacteria that I've been researching is Helicobacter Pylori (HP), which has previously been linked with stomach ulcers, but is also now very directly implicated in Parkinson's too, as this abstract from a 2016 science article highlights:
"Helicobacter Pylori (HP) is a common infection of the gastrointestinal system that is usually related to peptic ulcers. However, recent studies have revealed relationships between HP and many other diseases. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, HP can prevent the absorption of certain drugs. A high prevalence of HP has been found in patients with Parkinson's disease, and this bacterium causes motor fluctuations by affecting the absorption of levodopa, which is the main drug used to treat Parkinson's disease. Eradicating HP from patients with Parkinson's disease by applying antibiotic treatment will increase the absorption of levodopa and decrease their motor fluctuations."
I first came across the relationship between HP with PD myself when I was contacted on twitter by @ParkinsonsImpro, who alerted me to the Parkinson's Improvement Programme Project website, where Andrew JC Carmichael, the Project's founder, writes:
"... my attention was drawn to the work of Drs Sylvia and John Dobbs on the improvement in PD following eradication of Helicobacter Pylori, a noxious stomach bacterium. They came to address the Preston Branch of the PDS, of which I was Chair. Their paper published in 2000 had been ignored by all those who were still convinced it was solely a ‘brain’ problem. Video of their patients’ improvement was a powerful argument in favour of their theories. A later paper in 2005 reinforced their results but was similarly ignored or ridiculed by the establishment.
Further reading around HP and PD in general, together with ... my daughter’s 2006 PhD thesis on ‘Signalling mechanisms in E. coli and Campylobacter’ ... led to a growing feeling that the connection between gut health and brain health was obvious. Knowing the inadequacies of antibiotics and the side-effects of the eradication treatment for HP, I read widely..."
Based on his very deep and broad research, Andrew now provides a PIP "tonic" to UK based participants of the Project, which is indeed showing long term benefits. I tried the PIP tonic myself around Christmas time 2016, but unfortunately an ingredient in it triggered one of my personal food allergies. I was nevertheless convinced by the PIP research, and have persisted with ingesting the main ingredient of the formula, based on Andrew's scientific knowledge of HP treatment, called Asorbyl Palmitate. This is a fat soluble version of Vitamin C. I currently take 500mg of this powder, mixed in with probiotic goat's milk [to avoid known issues with cow's milk] yoghurt or coconut oil, twice a day.
One might ask why do we not simply get tested for HP and, if found, take the triple course of anti-biotics to clear it? My personal choice not to do this is based on the fact that these anti-biotics also harm other, more beneficial, bacteria in the gut, and since PD symptoms and a healthy gut are so closely linked, this may actually make the condition worse. Besides, people with PD are likely to be later re-infected if HP is still present in their environment, not only because of their compromised immune systems and already imbalanced gut microbiota, but also because of certain difficulties in maintaing personal hygiene. For example, many people with Parkinson's can find washing their hands properly extremely difficult.
So instead, as Andrew had done before me, I looked towards food-as-medicine choices which can be adopted for life and in doing so, at least in principle, hold the HP at bay forever. I therefore researched additional natural treatments for HP. According to the Dr Axe website, for example, these include not only probiotics, but also black seed (nigella sativa), broccoli sprouts, berries, green tea and garlic. Green tea comes up a lot in PD prevention and symptom managament, so I try to drink three mugs a day, sometimes melting in a spoonful of coconut oil. I take my probiotic goat's yoghurt twice a day (breakfast and supper), poured over raspberries or blackberries, and have recently introduced broccoli sprouts into my diet.
Are these food-as-medicine choices helping to reduce my symptoms? The proof is in the eating, as they say. As well as the dramatic improvements in my quality of life, which I've documented in the video below, more recent changes include fewer instances of the failure of a dose of the l-dopa PD drugs, and also an ability to switch my movement back on much more quickly after taking the medication.