Tag Archives: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s: An Argument for Periodic Treatment

Parkinson's DiseaseParkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders that have affected many people around the world and is still doing what it does best; debilitating its victims. The treatments that many patients have been subjected to only target the symptoms of the disease, some of which are eradicated but as for others the patients have to go for the treatments periodically to suppress the pain and severity of the symptoms of PD. There are various ways of treating those suffering from Parkinson’s disease; however it is recommended that a person should begin treatment as soon as he or she is diagnosed with the disease, lest it becomes a hard nut to crack. The tremors may become too severe if treatment is begun too late.

As opposed to other diseases whose causes are still a mystery, the cause of this disease is now known. Parkinson’s disease is caused by the continued loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Dopamine is an essential brain chemical that helps to regulate movement and emotional responses among other cognitive functions.

Dopamine deficiency is the salient feature of those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The disease kills the dopamine producing nerve cells in the substantia nigra. The disease affects the substantia nigra in a way that it elicits the problems associated with reasoning, movement, sleeping and motivation. This disease is also linked to the formation of alpha-synuclein- these are clumps of proteins in the brain. These clumps of proteins only worsen the condition of the patient. It is the continuous death of the nerve cells in the substantia nigra that results in the patients developing tremors and rigidity as well as slowed movements. Other symptoms include; dementia, depression, insomnia, constipation and loss of balance. Dementia is usually suffered at later stages, a critical stage in which the damage has spread to the rest of the body.

Treatment of Parkinson’s disease with dopamine boosting drugs

As stated earlier the cause of PD is depletion of dopamine at the substantia nigra. Owing to this fact, doctors have been treating those suffering from PD with dopamine boosting drugs. These drugs help in elevating the levels of dopamine in the brain and so make up for the depleted dopamine. The most common of all the dopamine level boosting drugs is the levodopa. This drugs works in a way that it boosts level of dopamine as it turns into dopamine while in the body. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and is considered the most effective drug for PD. however this drug may not work efficiently without an enzyme inhibitor known as carbidopa as it will be broken down by blood enzymes before it reaches the brain. The enzyme inhibitor also prevents levodopa from being metabolized in the gastroinstenal tract, liver and other tissues thus more of it reaches the brain.

When used alongside carbidopa, the dosage needed to treat symptoms will be reduced and is the side effects like vomiting and nausea that are mostly suffered as a side effect of the drug. It will in turn reduce stiffness, tremors and slowness among other symptoms. It is however important to note that levodopa only addresses the symptoms but neither restores the normal release of dopamine nor slows the progression of the disease.

Levodopa never heals the damaged neurons but rather stands for the dopamine lost, it is therefore not targeted to heal the patient but rather to mitigate on the effects of the disease. therefore other therapies that may help ease the side effects of the drug as well as promote healing should be given due considerations by the patients and their doctors. Dieting may help improve dopamine levels in the brain naturally. There are scenarios when a patient will have to undergo surgery which may include deep stimulation with implanted electrodes.

Need for a lasting cure

Parkinson,s DiseaseJust like other neurodegenerative diseases the need for proper treatment must involve a therapy that will focus more on healing the damaged nerves and neurons as opposed to simply mitigating on the symptoms. Drugs or treatments that mitigate on the symptoms become a part of a person’s life as they have to undergo treatment periodically. In the end the use of levodopa may even result in a condition known as Dyskinesia. Doctors have been working on the viability of stem cell therapy in treatment of this disease. The treatment will targets the special features and abilities of the stem cells to form all cells of the body, the stem cells can be used to help in repairing the damage on the neurons producing dopamine and restore the normal levels of dopamine in the brain.

There are research findings that have elicited hope for those suffering from this disease as there has never been a treatment that fully heals those suffering the disease, it is hoped that the stem cell therapy is going to be a lasting solution.

For more information on viability of stem cell therapy in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, visit www.awaremednetwork.com Dr. Dalal Akoury, an expert in integrative medicine will be of help. You can also check: http://www.integrativeaddiction2015.com to be up to date with the upcoming Integrative Addiction Conference 2015. The conference will equip you with knowledge on the unique approaches of telling addiction symptoms as well as how to help addicts.

Parkinson’s: An Argument for Periodic Treatment



Methamphetamine Use May Risk Development of Parkinson’s Disease

Methamphetamine Use May Predispose Consumers to Future Development of Parkinson’s Disease

There are several neurodegenerative disorders but it will still not be right for anybody to talk about neurodegenerative disorders without mentioning the Parkinson’s disease. This disorder is the second most common after Alzheimer’s disease and it is affecting approximately ten million people worldwide. The probability of a person suffering from this disease increases with age with most people being diagnosed after the age of 50. Early in the course of the disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related. These include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking and gait. However, the symptoms worsens as time passes by, these may include cognitive and behavioral problems with dementia commonly occurring in the advanced stages of the disease. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep, and emotional problems. PD is caused by degeneration of midbrain dopaminergic neurons that project to the striatum. The loss of striatal dopamine is responsible for the major symptoms of the disease. Although a small proportion of cases can be attributed to known genetic factors, most cases of PD are idiopathic. While the etiology of dopaminergic neuronal demise is mysterious, a combination of genetic susceptibilities, age, and environmental factors seems to play a critical role. Dopamine degeneration process in PD involves abnormal protein handling, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, excitotoxicity, apoptotic processes, and microglial activation or neuroinflammation.


Studies on animals on methamphetamine toxicity

Studies done on animals have shown that methamphetamine can cause long-term dopamine terminal damage as well as dopamine neuronal body loss. In rodents, repeated administration of methamphetamine causes a decrease in dopaminergic markers such as tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine transporter. Accompanied by a reduction in TH activity, reduced levels of dopamine and its metabolites and decreased levels of vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2). These effects occur primarily in the striatum but also in the cortex, thalamus, hypothalamus and hippocampus. Methamphetamine induces neurotoxicity in a dose-dependent manner as do other amphetamine-derivatives like MDMA. Although partial recovery of TH and dopamine transport fibers occurs after methamphetamine administration, methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity is persistent. In mice, the greatest dopaminergic fiber loss is seen 24 hours after methamphetamine administration. Neurotoxic effects persist for more than seven days after methamphetamine exposure and one month after MDMA exposure. Drugs that induce PD symptoms and TH loss such as MPTP in mice also show a partial recovery with time in nonhuman monkeys and mice. The time courses and degrees of TH and dopamine transport fiber recovery after methamphetamine or after MDMA exposure are similar, suggesting terminal regrowth, as these two proteins are independently regulated. Researchers have also noted that there is partial recovery of dopamine levels in the striatum strongly suggesting that the regrown terminals are functional. However the mechanisms responsible for partial recovery are not known, but it is speculated that it might involve compensatory sprouting and branching as has been reported for regrowth following MPTP-induced damage. Dopamine terminal recovery has also been described in rhesus monkeys and velvet monkeys, although it appears to occur on a slower timescale than in mice. Methamphetamine-induced dopaminergic damage persists for more than 12 weeks in velvet monkeys and more than 3 years in rhesus monkeys, demonstrating the persistence of methamphetamine-induced brain damage.

Methamphetamine Toxicity in the Substantia Nigra

This drug doesn’t only cause fiber loss in TH but also produces dopamine cell body loss in the substantia nigra as shown in tests in mice that were treated with 3 methamphetamine injections (5 mg/kg) at 3-hour intervals. From the counts it is evident that 20 to 25% dopaminergic cell loss, measured at different time are linked to exposure to methamphetamine. The observed pattern of TH-stained neuron loss is very similar to the pattern of Nissl-stained neuron loss, indicating that neuronal loss is specific to dopaminergic neurons. Dopamine cell body loss was confirmed via staining with Fluoro-Jade, a general marker of neuronal degeneration that fluoresces after administration of known dopaminergic toxins such as 6-OHDA and MPTP. Fluoro-Jade stains scattered neurons degenerated in the substantia nigra after methamphetamine treatment. there is a possibility that the lack of complete recovery of TH fibers in the striatum is related to the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the Substantia nigra similar to what occurs in Parkinson’s disease.


Increased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease in Methamphetamine Abusers

There are literatures that have linked the abuse of amphetamine to the later development of PD. In a report of a study done by Callaghan and his colleagues, there is an increase in of PD in methamphetamine users in an epidemiological investigation based on data from California statewide hospital discharge records. The researchers identified 1,863 methamphetamine users, 9,315 patients hospitalized for appendicitis as a nondrug control group, and 1,720 cocaine users as a drug control group. All subjects were aged at least 50 years, had been hospitalized in California between 1990 and 2000, and had been followed for up to 10 years after discharge. The methamphetamine user group showed an elevated incidence of PD, with a 165% higher risk for development of PD than the patients from the control group. the results have been confirmed by the same group after doing the same research but in a much broader scope; 40,000 people hospitalized for methamphetamine versus 200,000 for appendicitis and 35,000 for cocaine and a 16-year follow-up period. From these two studies it is evident that methamphetamine use increases the chances of PD development in adulthood.

Drug abuse, addiction and independence are problems that people grapple with every day. These problems need to be treated effectively through integrative medicine. Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) is an expert at this.  Call her on (843) 213-1480 for help.

Methamphetamine Use May Predispose Consumers to Future Development of Parkinson’s Disease



Kynurenine Tryptophan Cycle in Addiction

Kynurenine Tryptophan Cycle in Addiction

The immune system is an important part of normal body functioning. It is constantly modulating a balance between tolerance to non-harmful antigens and responsiveness to some pathogens. The process that facilitates tolerance is not known. However, recent studies show that this tolerance is due to tryptophan catabolism via the kynurenine metabolic pathway. The breakdown of tryptophan requires several enzymes which. These enzymes are found in various cells which includes those of the immune system.

Some of these enzymes involved in the breakdown of tryptophan produced through activation of the immune system. This process involves among others limitation of enzymes that are present in the dendritic cells and macrophages, 3-dioxygenase and indoleamine 2. Recent studies have shown that inhibition of these enzymes can result in the body rejecting allogeneic fetuses. This means that breakdown of tryptophan is necessary in immune tolerance aspects.

Some theories have been invented to try and explain how catabolism of tryptophan facilitates tolerance to drugs like alcohol. One such theory holds it that breakdown of tryptophan ends up suppressing proliferation of T cells by greatly reducing the supply of this amino acid that is critical in body processes. The other theory states that the down streaming of the metabolites involved in catabolism of tryptophan act as suppressors of some immune cells mainly through mechanisms of pro-apoptotic processes.

Kynurenine Tryptophan Cycle

What is tryptophan?

It is an amino acid that is required by all processes of the body for the synthesis of proteins and other body metabolic functions. Tryptophan is synthesized mainly from molecules like phosphoenolpyruvate that are present in bacteria, plants and fungi. Such organisms activate the tryptophan throughout the food chain. Animals are incapable of synthesizing this amino acid and because of this it must be taken in the diet in form of proteins which are then broken down into the respective amino acids in the digestive tract. The tryptophan that results from diet is deposited in the liver via the hepatic portal system. The protein that is not broken down in the liver enters into any of the two metabolic processes.

Because animals are incapable of synthesizing tryptophan, they must take it in the form of proteins, which are then hydrolyzed into the constituent amino acids in the digestive system. Dietary tryptophan is delivered to the liver through the hepatic portal system, and that portion which is not used for protein synthesis in the liver can then follow one of two basic metabolic fates.

In the first place, the protein that does not undergo synthesis can enter into the blood stream to later be used for synthesis of proteins and other cell functions in the body. Secondly, it can undergo degradation in the liver via a number of steps of metabolism which is basically referred to as the kynurenine pathway. Besides being a building block for proteins in the body, tryptophan also acts as the only source of substrate used for the production of important molecules in the body. Tryptophan is used in the gut and nervous system for serotonin synthesis and on the other hand pineal gland is useful in melatonin synthesis.  In case the content of niacin in the body is not enough to carry out metabolic processes, tryptophan come in to facilitate cellular cofactor synthesis and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD +) synthesis. NAD + synthesis as research shows take place mostly in the liver.

The kynurenine pathway

The kynurenine pathway results from proteins that are not synthesized in the liver. The enzymatic reactions take place proceeding from tryptophan. The main intermediates of the metabolic system include quinolinate, 3-hydroxyanthranilate and kynurenine. A catabolic reaction is completed in the liver and this result in the total oxidation of the amino acid tryptophan and in the process carbon dioxide and adenosine triphosphate are produced.

Tryptophan metabolism and addiction

Tryptophan metabolism and addiction


The three stages that take place in the kynurenine pathway include an intial stage that involves tryptophan being broken down into kynurenine. The second stage starts from the produced kynurenine all the way to production of quinolinate. The final stage of the process involves enzymes that translate into total oxidation. The other processes that occurs within the three major processes picolinate production, kynuretic acid synthesis and synthesis of NAD +.

Most cells in the body have some of the enzymes that are involved in the kynurenine pathway. However, only hepatocytes have been shown to contain each and every enzyme that is used in every stage of the kynurenine pathway.  Since the liver is the only tissue in the body that contains all thes enzymes of the pathway, the liver then acts as the major site in which NAD + is synthesized from tryptophan. Diet and intake of certain substances like alcohol can affect the flow of metabolisms in the kynurenine pathway. For more information about this topic visit www.awaremednetwork.com. At AwareMed you will also find other health and awareness tips that will benefit you.

Kynurenine Tryptophan Cycle in Addiction

Related articles


Alternative Cancer Treatments

How alternative cancer medicine offers better ways for cancer treatment

In general, cancer treatment and care takes place in four different approaches. These are outlined as follows.

Cancer Preventive measures

AlternativeThe first approach to cancer management involves primary prevention. In this approach, the main objective is to prevent people from exposure to particular factors that have been found to be the causative agents of cancer. In general, many different types of cancers have been found to be triggered by continuous exposure to particular carcinogens. It then follows that by limiting the intensity of exposure to such factors, individuals will play a key role in preventing the development of cancer. Also, adopting lifestyles that limits the level of exposure to particular factors thought to contribute to cancer development has been touted as a worthy preventive measure against different forms of cancer.

Cancer Detection measures

At the root of effective cancer management is early detection. The primary concern for early detection is that some cancers can be effectively tackled if they are detected at an early stage. Whereas there may be few curative options for tackling highly advanced cancers, several curative measures remain options for cancers that are still in their early stage. By use of effective screening programs, early detection of cancer among populations is carried out as an important part of overall cancer treatment and management programs. After detection programs are used to identify cancer that is still at an early stage of development, effective intervention measures are instituted.

Cancer Diagnosis and treatment

Once a patient has been diagnosed with a particular type of cancer, special treatment therapies are used. The diagnosis is usually carried out in the form of special laboratory procedures and tests to determine the location, actual type and degree of progress of the cancer. Also, in determining what treatment option shall be used on a patient, several factors are taken into consideration. The most important one is the nature of the disease. It is only when the cancer has been fully understood that a particular treatment method can be used.

There are several therapies that are used in cancer treatment. In general terms, conventional therapies include procedures such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. These may be used either in isolation or in combination with other forms of treatment. The other forms of treatment include alternative therapies which make use of different forms of methods to complement what is done by conventional treatment.

Alternative cancer medicine and cancer treatment

The problem with cancer treatment arises from the fact that many cancer patients are diagnosed when it is already too late to effectively deal with the disease. This makes it difficult for many of the therapies to be used with positive outcomes. The good news, however, is that alternative cancer medicine has been used to successfully offer better ways of approaching the approaches used in cancer management: prevention, diagnosis, treatment and general care. These are discussed in the sections that follow.

Alternative cancer medicine in cancer prevention

There are several strategies that are used under alternative cancer medicine to help prevent the onset and development of cancer in patients. For instance different kinds of nutritional supplements are used to help the body of patients develop preventive mechanisms against possible development of cancer. The use of such food supplements is based on strong scientific evidence derived from rigorous studies carried out over a considerable length of time. There are several types of supplements that are used in this approach. For example, nutrients such as calcium and carotenoids have been found to be effective in helping the body prevent the development of cancer. Other natural products such as garlic, green tea and folic acid have been successfully used as natural methods of preventing the development of different types of cancers.

Alternative cancer medicine in cancer treatment

The bulk of the importance of alternative cancer medicine in overall cancer management has been on how the approach can be effectively used to enhance the effects of conventional therapies. The growth of alternative cancer medicine has been in this area and has been used to foster the overall effects of conventional treatment methods. It is important to note that it is uncommon to find alternative cancer treatments being used in isolation. What usually happens is that the therapies are used in conjunction with the other conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and surgery. The idea is to have both approaches complementing each other as a way of effectively treating cancer in patients.

One way in which alternative cancer medicine has been effectively used to complement conventional therapies has been in the use of natural supplements as a way of dealing with some of the most unpleasant effects of conventional treatments. Effects such as loss of weight, diarrhea, cell damage and other complications are common effects that patients suffer from when undergoing cancer treatment using conventional therapies. However, research and practice has proven the efficacy of a wide range of natural supplements in treating these effects. Supplements such as vitamins, ginger and other botanicals have been successfully used to counter such unpleasant effects thus boosting the overall outcome of cancer therapies in patients.

Alternative cancer medicine in care of cancer patients

AlternativeAnother area in cancer management in which use of alternative cancer medicine has been instrumental is in general palliative care. In general, after undergoing treatment, cancer patients need a specialized program for rehabilitation or general care. Here is where alternative cancer medicine has been widely used. There are several remedies and methods that have been used to enhance the physical and psychological; comfort of patients in this stage of cancer management. Practices such as yoga, meditation and aromatherapy have been used to provide psychological comfort for patients. On the other hand, acupuncture, message, rehabilitation and hydration have been successfully used to enhance the physical comfort of cancer patients.

Dr. Dalal Akoury of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Centre has been on the forefront of promoting the use of alternative cancer medicine in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and general care of cancer patients. Her training, experience and devotion have been notable by a wide clientele she has attended to. Regardless of the stage at which the disease is, we are ready to provide safe and effective natural methods to provide effective treatment and complete wellbeing to you.

How alternative cancer medicine offers better ways for cancer treatment