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Causes of Parkinson's Disease


What is Parkinson's disease?
Who gets P.D?
Causes of P.D
Alternative treatment for P.D
The root cause of Parkinson's Disease - and how to reverse it
Understanding of P.D

Why an individual develops Parkinson's disease remains unclear. The cause is probably a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and may vary from person to person.

Oxidation: One theory holds that free radicals-unstable and potentially damaging molecules generated by normal chemical reactions in the body may contribute to nerve cell death, thereby leading to Parkinson's disease. Read more about Free Radicals and Anti-Oxidants. Oxidation due to free radicals is thought to cause damage to tissues, including neurons. Normally, free radical damage is kept under control by antioxidant chemicals that protect cells from this damage. Researchers found that patients with Parkinson's disease have increased brain levels of iron, especially in the substantia nigra, and decreased levels of feritin, which serves as a protective mechanism by chelating, or forming a ring around the iron, and isolating it. This led to the conclusion that oxidative mechanisms may cause or contribute to Parkinson's disease.

External or an internal toxin: Parkinson's disease may occur when either an external or an internal toxin selectively destroys dopaminergic neurons. An environmental risk factor such as exposure to pesticides or a toxin in the food supply is an example of the kind of external trigger that could hypothetically cause Parkinson's disease. The theory is based on the fact that there are a number of toxins, such as 1-methyl 4-phenyl-1,2,3,6,-tetra- hydropyridine (mptp) and neuroleptic drugs, that induce parkinsonian symptoms in humans. So far no research has provided conclusive proof that a toxin is the cause of the disease.

Genetics: Researchers believe that genetics sometimes plays a role in the cellular breakdown. Fifteen to twenty percent of Parkinson's patients have a close relative who has experienced parkinsonian symptoms (such as a tremor). After studies in animals showed that mptp interferes with the function of mitochondria within nerve cells, investigators became interested in the possibility that impairment in mitochondrial DNA may be the cause of Parkinson's disease. Mitochondria is found in all animal cells that convert the energy in food into fuel for the cells.

Viral infection: In rare instances, Parkinson's disease may be caused by a viral infection.

Age-related: In some individuals, the normal, age-related wearing away of dopamine-producing neurons accelerates. The exact cause for this is not known; but, if this happens, then it can also result in Parkinson's disease. This theory is supported by the fact that the loss of antioxidative protective mechanisms is associated with both Parkinson's disease and increasing age.

Many researchers believe that a combination of oxidative damage, environmental toxins, genetic predisposition, and accelerated aging may ultimately be shown to cause the disease.

The typical symptoms of Parkinson's also occur in meningitis and various types of poisoning from alcohol, carbon monoxide and heavy metals. This group of symptoms is called Parkinsonism. Overdoses of manganese also cause Parkinson's symptoms, and high levels of stored iron are found in those with Parkinson's disease. Other causes of parkinsonism include:

  • An adverse reaction to prescription drugs
  • Use of illegal drugs
  • Exposure to environmental toxins
  • Stroke
  • Thyroid and parathyroid disorders
  • Repeated head trauma (for example, the trauma associated with boxing)
  • Brain tumor
  • An excess of fluid around the brain (called hydrocephalus)
  • Brain inflammation (encephalitis) resulting from infection

Parkinsonism may also be present in persons with other neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Wilson's disease and Huntington's disease.

Poor nutrition is an underlying cause of Parkinson's disease. High consumption of meat, rich in protein, also aggravates symptoms of Parkinson's and inhibits the body's use of vitamin B-6, which helps treat brain dysfunction.

Symptoms of Parkinson's should not be confused with milder problems that are common as people get older, including slower, stiffer movements from aching joints, and trembling. Problems with poor memory and a lack of facial expression are often linked to depression.

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