Parkinson’s Disease also known as Parkinson’s is a nervous system disorder that impairs movement. This disorder is a result of the lowering level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Dopamine plays an active role in sending messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. The lowering dopamine levels affect movements by impairing the individual’s ability to control their body.
Due to the severity of this disorder, treatment is usually limited to improving the lives of the sufferer. While others have embraced so many therapeutic and alternative forms of medicine, a permanent treatment to this disease is yet to be found.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder. It worsens with advancement in age. It is not common in young people as only mild symptoms may be seen at the initial stages. It is more common in adults aged 60 and above. Although the root cause of Parkinson’s disease has not been found, several its symptoms are known.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be relative. Many of the symptoms are also known to be symptoms of other common diseases. It is advisable to see a doctor when these symptoms are first noticed so they can be treated early. Symptoms of Parkinson’s include.
- Tremor: A tremor is usually noticed with the shaking of a limb, often the hands or fingers. The fingers may be seen to be shaking when inactive.
- Bradykinesia (Slowed Movement): As the disease progresses, it slows the movements of the individual. It becomes more difficult to take steps. Steps become shorter than normal. This makes tasks more difficult and time-consuming.
- Limb rigidity: The limbs become rigid and less flexible. Muscles stiffen which can be painful - this also restricts the range of movement.
- Speech changes: Speech becomes impaired. The individual tends to speak softly, quickly, slur, or hesitate before speaking. Monotone speaking may be noticed, unlike the normal inflections that occur during speech.
- Loss of reflex actions: Reflex actions such as blinking, swinging of arms, smiling, knee-jerking become difficult to act. There is usually a decreased ability to carry out automatic movements.
- Cramped or smaller handwriting: The handwriting becomes smaller and difficult to read. Since the hands are more rigid and stiff, it is difficult to write legibly and easily.
Other symptoms include;
- Loss of smell
- Sleep problems
- Gait changes
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing etc
Causes of Parkinson’s
As mentioned earlier, the cause of Parkinson’s has not been ascertained, however, scientists have been able to identify some causal factors of the disease.
- Low dopamine levels: Dopamine sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination in the body. The falling levels of dopamine make it difficult for the brain to carry out its proper function. The continuous fall in dopamine levels gradually leads to a rise in the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
- Low norepinephrine levels: Norepinephrine is a stress hormone and neurotransmitter. It is released as a stress hormone when the brain perceives the body undergoing stress. A low level of norepinephrine can cause stiffness, rigidity, anxiety, tremor, depression, dementia, etc.
- Genetic factors: Parkinson’s disease is likely inherited. An individual might inherit the disease from a parent who had the disease.
- Environmental factors: Certain toxins in the environment can increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease on an individual. However, this risk is relatively low.
- Lewy bodies: These are certain clumps of proteins that may be found in the brain of a Parkinson’s patient. The accumulation of these bodies can lead to changes in movement patterns, thinking, loss of nerve cells, behavior, and even mood.
What are the Risk Factors of Parkinson’s?
Certain factors may increase the risk of an individual experiencing Parkinson’s disease.
- Age: Older people are more likely to have the disease than younger people.
- Sex: Men are more likely to have the disease than women.
- Toxin exposure: Exposure to pesticides, herbicides, pollutants can put one at risk of developing the disease.
- Heredity: A family history of Parkinson’s can lead to an individual developing the disease.
CBD for Parkinson’s: Can CBD improve Wellbeing?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an emerging alternative in medicine. The world is revolving and so the medical world is leaving behind the more traditional side of medicine to more researched scientific ones. However, CBD is derived from the hemp and cannabis plants, plants that are known for their medicinal uses but which are often misused by people.
The oil derived from the CBD compound is known to relieve pain, anxiety, inflammation, depressions, and so on. It has been used successfully in other health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), meditation. Research has shown that CBD can be useful in improving the well-being and quality of life in Parkinson’s patients. This research is new and has not been used in the long term but the results from CBD usage for other health conditions have suggested that it can be used to relieve certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
A study of 22 individuals with Parkinson’s showed that cannabis helped improve pain. CBD responds to receptors to provide therapeutic effects against the symptoms of Parkinson’s. It is important to state at this point that Parkinson’s does not have a cure, at least not yet. Also, CBD is not known to be a cure for any disease, but it has been proven through research to be a medication used to relieve certain symptoms of health conditions. And these symptoms have been stated above.