Parkinson’s disease causes symptoms of muscle rigidity, tremor, slow movements, and trouble maintaining posture. This results from deterioration of neurons which produce a neurotransmitter, dopamine* (DA) in the substantia nigra of the brain. Pharmaceutical treatments attempt to alter dopamine metabolism, and other treatments include deep brain stimulation and stem cell transplantation. There is no cure at this time. However, neuroprotective treatment offers hope for slowing the progression of the disease.
The cause of PD is not known, but inflammation, apoptosis, and oxidative stress are part of the disease progression. Resveratrol may counteract all of these processes by alteration of RNA and reduction of inflammatory enzymes. It is an antioxidant found in red wines and grapes. Resveratrol reduces the production of C-reactive protein (CRP), which can be tested in the blood. It us also implicated in other inflammatory diseases. Specifically, resveratrol protects the neurons which produce dopamine by reduction of inflammation.
Apoptosis** of DA producing neurons is the result of inflammation and leads to PD. Resveratrol has been shown in a variety of ways to reduce inflammation-related apoptosis of DA neurons. Resveratrol is a complex of many polyphenols. Fortunately, it is water-soluble and able to enter the brain. Its effects are antioxidant, anti-inflammation, anti-apoptosis, and antifungal. It reduces oxidation of DA neurons in rat models of PD by reducing the inflammatory response. Resveratrol reduces the production of C-reactive protein, important in some inflammatory diseases. (For some functions of anti-oxidation, resveratrol liposomes*** work better that resveratrol alone.)
Curcumin is a polyphenol compound found in curry from the spice turmeric (Curcuma longa). It is anti-cancer, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-proliferative. Its usefulness in PD has been demonstrated. Curcumin protects DA neurons from damage by its anti-inflammatory effect and protects them from apoptosis. (The liposomal form of curcumin works better.)
Ginseng, containing ginsenosides, is neuroprotective. It has antioxidant, anti-apoptosis, and anti-inflammatory effects.
CONCLUSION: The pathway to PD is believed to include inflammation, oxidation, and apoptosis, leading to degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons. Resveratrol, curcumin, and ginseng have been shown to reduce these processes.
NOTES: *DA is a neurotransmitter. Depletion of DA in the substantia nigra of the brain is seen in PD. More generalized depletion of DA in the brain is seen in addictions.
**Apoptosis is death of a cell by a programmed process internal to the cell without the production of toxicity. The cell dies from within.
***Liposomal forms of nutritional elements may make them more bioavailable.
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