MANNITOL SAFETY & SIDE-EFFECTS
According to the FDA in the USA, there are no known health risks of mannitol at the levels being recommended for Parkinson's Disease:
"There is no evidence in the available literature to show that mannitol constitutes a hazard to the public when used at levels that are now current, or that might reasonably be expected in future."
According to "Nutrients Review":
"Mannitol acts as an osmotic diuretic, which means it drags water from the blood into the urine and can thus quickly reduces blood pressure. As an intravenous drug is used to lower the increased pressure within the skull (intracranial pressure or ICP) and in treatment of increased pressure within the eye (glaucoma)."
"Mannitol attracts water from the intestinal wall (osmotic effect) so it can cause diarrhea if consumed in excess. Mannitol, when ingested in amounts greater than 50 mg/kg body weight (35 g by a 70 kg or 155 lbs person) may cause abdominal pain, excessive gas (flatulence), loose stools or diarrhea. According to one source, the laxation threshold for mannitol in healthy people is about 20 grams per day. There appears to be no evidence about association between mannitol and cancer."
Original Article, Published 23rd December 2016
In July 2013, the Parkinson's Disease Foundation reported on journal published scientific studies:
"The natural sweetener mannitol, a common component of sugar-free gums and candies, may hold potential for Parkinson’s disease (PD) according to a study, funded in part by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, in the June 14 issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry. In this initial study, the compound not only improved PD-like symptoms in fruit flies, but also reduced harmful levels of alpha-synuclein (the hallmark of PD) in the brains of fruit flies and mice.
Researchers took interest in mannitol because..., it has two unique properties. First, it can disrupt the blood brain barrier (meaning the drug can reach the brain). Second, it is able to stop some proteins in the body from clumping together, which is interesting in light of the fact that clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein are a well-known sign of Parkinson’s disease."
The reported results were as follows:
- "In the test tube, mannitol injections prevented alpha-synuclein protein from clumping into the Lewy bodies that form in the brains of people with PD.
- In the fruit fly model of PD, mannitol injections restored the flies’ normal movements, for example their ability to climb up test tubes.
- In the same flies, mannitol reduced alpha-synuclein clumps by 70 percent.
- In the mice model of PD, mannitol injections reduced alpha-synuclein clumps in several areas of the brain involved with classic PD and protected dopamine-producing neurons, the brain cells affected in PD."
A pdf download from Fight Parkinson's, dated May 2016, reports on the anecdotal evidence of a person with Parkinson's who took it on himself to self-experiment with Mannitol and has been taking it since January 2014:
"I am 66 years old and had all the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease i.e. tremors, drooling, tiredness, falling down, loss of balance, trouble urinating, handwriting problems, shuffling, not sleeping etc. I used myself as a research subject. I started taking mannitol orally in small doses until I found a therapeutic dose that began to restore my functioning. There were some negative side effects including diarrhea, gas and urinary retention, so I reduced the dose and added alphagalactosidase to offset the side effects.
I added vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 to feed the mitochondria that power the lysosomes that consume the defective alpha-synuclein. After 30 days I could stand and walk regularly. I had a great deal more energy, had much better balance, slept 8 to 10 hours a night, no longer had problems urinating, could walk up and down stairs without holding the rails and no longer drooled as often. I still had tremors but they were diminished.
I have given the compound to others with Parkinson’s who have had similar results. I have two patents pending on the compound. The supplement is prepared as a powder and the recommended dosage is one tablespoon daily dissolved in a cup of hot caffeinated coffee or tea.
I have been taking the supplement for over seven months as of January, 2014. I have had no new Parkinson’s symptoms during that period of time. During a one week period I stopped taking it because my left eye swelled and I was fearful it was a side effect. I saw my primary care doctor and was diagnosed with an eye infection which was treated with a topical antibiotic. However, after 7 days off the supplement, I started having an in- crease in Parkinson’s symptoms again. The symptoms diminished after 4 days back on the supplement."
~ Don McCammon
In February 2016, Don McCammon also appeared on an episode of Parkinson's Recovery Radio about mannitol and PD, where he is described as "symptom free".
In 2016, the authors of the original scientific research launched a crowd sourcing website as a way to amass large scale pre-clinical trial data (I presume they had to resort to this "exotic" mechanism due to the failure of the scientific and health industries to fund clinical trials in humans - this is, unfortunately, the typical state of affairs when safe foodstuffs offer potential solutions for chronic conditions - as there is then no profit to be made by helping people to ease their suffering).
By December 2016, based on 800 participants at that time, the scientists reported their results on an Israeli news channel. The report includes interviews with two extremely credible sources, both people with Parkinson's themselves who have been on the trial. According to this video, Mannitol can indeed dramatically and rapidly improve the symptoms of people with Parkinson's. The therapeutic dose is reported as around just 12g. This is substantially lower than the levels for which Mannitol has been used for other medicinal purposes, and below that at which any serious side effects are known to occur.*
Andy Butler, who I consider to be a world authority on Parkinson's and the man behind the Parkinson's People project, writes: "People all over the world with pd take this ! I have met many pwp who have tried this and still take it. Cheap and ready available in almost every where world wide. GIVE IT A GO - IT MAY HELP YOU !"
Based on this evidence, while I am in no way advising anyone else to do so, I have personally decided to add Mannitol into my recovery plan and have invested in a kilo of the powder. I have just taken my first teaspoon to ensure there are no side-effects and will build up to the recommended dose over the next few days. I will report on outcomes below.
Update "The Mystery of Mannitol Solved", Published 5th June 2017
Mannitol is a type of "diabetic sugar" which has a low glycemic index and is barely absorbed in the body, tending to pass straight through. People with Parkinson's around the world are finding cumulative benefit with daily use of mannitol as a supplement. Andy Butler of Parkinson's People, who travels the world talking to PD groups, to seek out and share the best practices of living well with the condition, says "pain and fatigue seem to be helped by mannitol". No-one really knows why it is working so well for some PwP, but having done the research, I believe the answer is actually straightforward. It turns out mannitol is a good prebiotic, as listed in
Due to its low GI/low absorption charaterisics, it seems to work much like the more well known prebiotic "Inulin" as it passes through the system, including that it is an "osmotic diuretic", drawing water through the gut lining, helping to create stools of good consistency and thus having beneficial impacts on the chronic constipation which many PwP suffer from. Mannitol therefore simply seems to support good gut bacteria and healthy elimination, helping with the chronic digestive problems and the severe microbiome (gut flora) imbalances which are now strongly implicated in PD, e.g.
The evidence that Mannitol supplementation is indeed working as a good prebiotic in PwP is that it tends to generate a lot of gas, which is a good sign that gut bacteria are active and reproducing!
Update, Published 2nd April 2017
Since writing the original article above, I have learned all about the Vagus Nerve and its primary role in conditions like Parkinson's Disease. Please see my article
for a guided tour of background reading on this very important subject, created to aid understanding for anyone affected by PD. That article also includes links to the reference works for the following explanation of how and why mannitol can help some people with Parkinson's.
In brief, the Vagus Nerve and its functionality via "Vagal Tone" have pivotal roles in discharging our autonomic nervous system back to rest after an acute flight-or-fight-or-freeze stress situation: it is via the activation of the Vagus Nerve by which we come back to relaxation ("rest and digest"). Importantly, it is only under such relaxed conditions when the brain and body can attend to any inflammation and it can detoxify. Conversely, if there is a problem with the activity levels of this nerve, then this leads to problems, such as the build up of toxic metals in the brain, now known to be strongly implicated in PD onset and degeneration. The same is therefore likely to be true of problem proteins like alpha-synuclein.
It now appears that we people with Parkinson's are stuck in a "freeze" stress response - due perhaps to our nervous systems learning to inhabit such a state from some ealier physical or emotional trauma - whilst also having very weak Vagal Tone due to a damaged Vagus Nerve. Viruses and pathogens are implicated in its weakening.
All is not lost, however, because Vagus Nerve Stimulation can help activate it again, and "exercising" the nerve this way can restrengthen Vagal Tone, allowing, in time, the brain and body to begin the processes of detoxifying and reducing its chronic inflammation. There are very many ways to stimulate the Vagus Nerve effectively. It seems reasonable, therefore, that mannitol's effect is precisely because it causes digestive tract activity, through its osmotic effect in the bowel, including the laxative, and especially excessive wind, effects it creates.
Indeed, deep breathing while "bearing down" (as if one is trying to break wind!) is a very effective Vagus Nerve Stimulation excerise, and so is, as suggested in the video below discussing "coffee enemas" as a stimulation strategy, holding a bowel movement in. People who take therapeutic levels of mannitol find themselves having to practice both of these actions on a daily basis! Thus mannitol is highly likely to simply be acting as Vagal Tone improving agent, and rather than having any direct role in the brain itself, it works indirectly through the activation of the digestive system, in turn creating a Vagus Nerve Stimulation effect, helping the brain to begin to naturally detoxify and remove problems molecules like alpha-synuclein.