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Friday, April 11, 2014

Medication Experimentation - Part Two

I continued my research. Before I started taking the Sinemet again, I ran across an article claiming that magnesium--ideally magnesium chloride--would reverse the progression of PD symptoms. A scientific basis was proposed--another theory. But again, it wouldn't be costly to give it a try, at least for a month, since it was safe to do so. So found and ordered some, 520 mg pills, and started taking them 10/1/13.

I took them until 12/10/13, when the bottle ran out. I didn't feel they helped symptoms. That's not to say they weren't helping in other ways, but I had no way to tell that. The claim was it would reduce symptoms. It didn't.

More research pulled up an article with a lot of suggestions. Evaluating them, I ordered and started taking the following supplements on 10/25/13:

  • Ginkgo Biloba: helps blood flow to and health of the brain
  • Tyrosine: used in the production of dopamine
  • Acetylene-Cystine: supposed to help offset toxic chemicals/processes in the brain.

Two days later I stopped taking Tyrosine because I discovered it interfered with the effectiveness of Sinemet, just like meat protean does. If I had been smart, I would have taken it at some point between does so it wouldn't interfere. But at the time I just stopped to see what the rest did.

So from 10/15/13 through November, I was taking in total: Sinemet, Ginkgo, Acetylene-Cysteine, and Magnesium Chloride. Through that time, I couldn't tell that any of it helped my symptoms other than the Sinemet, and that only partially.

My first visit with the neurologist happened at the end of November. That's when she confirmed I had PD and had a CAT scan done to check for strokes or other brain problems that could cause those symptoms. The CAT scan showed I was "normal." At least someone thinks I am.

The neurologist wanted me to try an alternate medication to Sinemet. The brand name she prescribed was Ropinirole. It is a dopamine-agonist. In short, instead of adding more dopamine into my system, it stimulates the dopamine-producing neurons to produce and receive dopamine.

So 12/1/13 I stopped taking Sinemet and 12/2/13 was my first day on Ropinirole. Unlike the Sinemet, I had more side-effects from it. The first week, the most noticeable side effect was dizziness. But it was a very specific action that caused it. When I'm in bed, and I turned to my left side, the whole room would spin and I would feel like I wanted to throw up. As I understand it, it has to something to do with lowering your blood pressure, which is why you work up to a full dose. She had me go at least one week on a half-dose before taking the full dose. But I didn't experience dizziness at any other time, and the room-spinning passed before one week was out.

The only other side-effect I experienced was drowsiness. I could stay awake, and I didn't have much trouble driving, but there were times I could tell my reflexes were dulled. Waking up in the mornings was harder. I felt groggier waking up for longer than usual. Overall, during the day, I simply felt slightly tired all the time. But my body adjusted and I got used to the drowsy feeling so that I didn't notice it much.

The neurologist said to stay on the half-dose if it did the job. By the end of one week, I could tell it was helping reduce symptoms, but not as much as the Sinemet did. So I went up to the full dose the following week. After a few days on it, it felt like it reduced symptoms as much as the Sinemet. So I ended up on 12/9/13 taking .5 mg three times a day. I've been taking it up through yesterday. More info on that later, but today is my first day off Ropinirole.

During this time, I stopped taking the magnesium chloride and the acetylene-cysteine when they ran out. I ordered more of the Ginkgo since that is well established to help brain functions, and I figured I could use all the help I could get. So by Christmas, I was taking Ropinirole and Ginkgo, along with my multivitamin and fish oil I'd been taking all along, even before getting PD, along with the coconut oil in my morning oatmeal.

My next neurology appointment was in January 2014. Upon further evaluation, she decided to add Sinemet back into my medicine alongside the Ropinirole. So on 1/14/14, I resumed taking the original dose of Sinemet. To date, that has gained me the biggest relief from symptoms to date. Even at church, while I would shake some and feel rigidity in my left arm and fingers, it was minimal compared to what it was before. Much more manageable.

That above cocktail of medicine and supplements is what I've been on since 1/14/14 until yesterday. The refills ran out on my Ropinirole. I could have called the doctor and got more, but the additions I'm making this week based on research caused me to decide to go off it, and see if these other changes could compensate.

They may, however, have a slow build-up effect. In that regard, this isn't the best time to stop taking it. Next week is Holy Week, and I'll be chanting extra services that are special and long. Which means added stress. If my new plan doesn't kick in right away, or at all, next week could be difficult.

What is my new plan? Two pronged. First, I'm going on a special diet that is supposed to benefit the mitochondria in the brain cells. Mitochondria manage energy production in cells. So the diet attempts to have you eat foods that benefit them, and avoid foods that hurt/hinder them.

The core of the diet is to avoid processed foods, sweeteners, breads, dairy, and unsprouted grains and beans, and instead eat three cups of green vegetables, 3 cups of sulfur vegetables (cabbage family, onions, and the like), and three cups of "colors," vegetables and fruits with color like berries, red cabbage, etc. Plus some protein from free-range, grass-fed, wild-caught chicken, beef, and fish respectively. Since we are fasting from meat during Lent, but shellfish is allowed, most of our "meat" protein comes from shrimp, and occasionally scallops or clams. Also supposed to have one serving of organ meats like liver, heart, brain, tongue, etc. If you're interested about this diet, do an internet search on Dr. Terry Wahl.

We started this diet this past Monday, 4/7/14. There are reports from people, one we know, that this diet--originally developed for autoimmune diseases like MS--has reduced symptoms significantly. One lady we know who has PD reports before the diet she couldn't safely drive. After a few months, she now can again. But this isn't something I can expect will help me out this coming week. In two to four months, I can probably give you an update on how it is helping, or not as the case may be. In a year, I should know for sure if this is something that can help. Even if it doesn't, it will at least have me eating a lot healthier.

The second addition is a new list of supplements that have been shown to help brain functions. From that info, starting 4/10/14, I've added the following to what I'm already taking:

  • 1 g. Tyrosine: taken in the middle of the night to keep from interfering with the Sinemet.
  • 400 mg. Vit B6: a key vitiamine needed by the brain for healthy dopamine production, also taken middle of the night with the tyrosine, for the same reasons.
  • 1040 mg. of Magnesium Chloride, again: helps with proper functioning of brain neurons.
  • 2 g. Vit C: free-radical fighter, to deal with radicals hurting the brain.
  • 1000 mg. Grape Seed extract: another free-radical fighter. It was either this or Vit E, and Dr. Furman warns against getting too much E, as it can negatively affect health.

These too might take a while to have an effect. But I'm hoping that will happen in a week's time, by which I'll be going into my heaviest chanting part of the week. If not, I may be on the shaky side. But I hope to find out whether this is helping within a month's time.

One other change I started two and a half weeks ago. I read about some early testing done on fruit flies and mice that the "artificial" sweetener mannital has been shown to reduce PD symptoms. It is a long ways from becoming an approved treatment, but I figured why not use it as a sweetener? But it isn't sold retail much. It is mostly used to coat candies to give it that cool feeling in the mouth. And it is also prescribed for children as a laxative. But I read it could be taken less than 20 g. a day safely. Whether that would be enough to help PD, who knows. But it could build up over time, can't hurt as long as I don't take too much a day, and helps with the PD constipation anyway. Win-win in my book.

So as of 3/28/14, I started taking 4 teaspoon in my oatmeal each morning, providing around 16 g. It has half the sweetness of sugar, so you have to use twice as much. My only problem may be if one of these solutions does work, I may not be so sure which it is. At any rate, my next neuro appointment is in July. By then I should be able to tell if any of it is helping, and if not, have her prescribe the Ropinirole again.

Starting today, however, the only prescription I'm on is Sinemet. The nice thing will be more alertness. But at least in the short term, more shakiness, rigidity, and pain. It will be a blessing if these supplements do the job.

That pretty much catches us up on my medication history to date. I do want to go into other types of treatment in my next post. But it will likely be sometime after Easter before I'll do it. With taxes and Holy Week, I"ll have my plate full for the next few days. Until then...


  1. I saw this statement and wondered if you've heard it: "according to Dr. Perlmutter, the rate at which a Parkinson's patient will decline perfectly correlates with the elevation of their blood sugar." Also applies to many other ailments, I'm sure!

    1. Haven't heard exactly that. Have heard about the similarities in the lack of ability to process glucose in the brain area. Would be interested to hear more if you have links. I could probably google it.s