How to boost Dopamine naturally (Dopamine deficiency = Parkinson's Disease)
http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Boo ... /41/92.cfm
(Vicia faba). These beans are one of Nature's best plant sources of a compound called L-dopa, the natural precursor of dopamine in the brain. In Parkinson's, an imbalance develops in the brain between two chemicals, dopamine and acetylcholine, usually due to degeneration of the cells that produce dopamine. If your brain makes less dopamine, taking L-dopa can help things along. L-dopa is a standard therapy for Parkinson's.
The trouble with L-dopa is that as a pharmaceutical it's very expensive, and lots of people with Parkinson's can't afford it. But fava beans are cheap. According to my calculations, it takes about a 16-ounce can of fava beans to get enough L-dopa to have a physiological effect on Parkinson's. At my supermarket, a 16-ounce can costs $1.15. Try buying pharmaceutical L-dopa for anywhere near that.
Even more intriguing, the latest news is that fava bean sprouts contain ten times more L-dopa than the unsprouted beans. That reduces the cost of a physiological dose to just over 10 cents--the cost of a handul of sprouts. Even though I've discussed the potential of fava beans with dozens of people over the last five years, I know of no one with Parkinson's disease who has taken the food approach seriously.
If you'd like to add fava beans to your diet, it's vitally important that you let your doctor know that you are doing so, and why. (It might help to take along a copy of this book.) Most cases of Parkinson's get off to a slow, mild start, and doctors don't usually prescribe L-dopa until the disease is more
advanced. I suspect that eating more fava beans at this early stage would be really helpful. If you are already taking L-dopa, however, do not start eating these beans unless you discuss it with your doctor.
In addition to L-dopa, fava beans (and other legumes) also contain choline and lecithin. Some research suggests that these compounds might have positive effects in preventing Parkinson's or might help relieve some of its symptoms.
Fava beans are also high in fiber, which helps prevent constipation, a common problem in Parkinson's. But as I mentioned, to get a physiologically meaningful dose of L-dopa from fava beans, you have to eat a pound of them (or about two ounces of sprouts).
If you do decide to go with the beans, you have to deal with their notorious problem--gas.
For some people, beans get easier to handle intestinally as you eat more of them. In preparation for the CBS morning show, I ate a 16-ounce can of fava beans one day at lunch. Within two hours, the expected side effect ensued. The next day, I ate a second can. Again I became gassy, but not until four hours later. By the third can, on day three, my gut seemed to have adjusted, and gas wasn't much of a problem.
So, bean eaters, there is hope. And if your gut doesn't adjust, you can try Beano, an over-the-counter product that helps reduce flatulence from beans. It's available at most drugstores; just follow the directions on the label.
(Mucuna, various species). Like fava beans, velvet beans contain a generous amount of L-dopa, around 50,000 parts per million. But unlike fava beans, velvet beans have actually been used in clinical trials to treat Parkinson's.
The study with velvet beans was done by researchers at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield under the leadership of B. V. Manyam, M.D. The researchers used a velvet bean preparation called HP-0, which is derived from the inner part of the bean. The HP-0 was standardized so that each gram of the preparation contained 33.33 milligrams of L-dopa.
From the trials, researchers concluded that their bean preparation was effective. Unfortunately, as far as I know, this preparation is still proprietary and experimental, so it's not available. But plain old velvet beans are. Like fava beans, they are high in fiber.
(Oenothera biennis). Evening primrose oil (EPO) improved Parkinson's-induced tremors in 55 percent of those who took the equivalent of two teaspoons a day for several months. The oil contains traces of the amino acid tryptophan, which boosts the effectiveness of L-dopa. (Ground evening primrose seeds contain even more.)
Melvyn Werbach, M.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine and author of Nutritional Influences on Illness, suggests taking two grams of tryptophan three times a day in combination with L-dopa for treating Parkinson's. Unfortunately, you can't get a tryptophan supplement because the Food and Drug Administraion banned it some years ago after a batch turned out to be contaminated. While you can still get tryptophan in evening primrose seeds, it would take nearly a quarter-pound of seeds to provide two grams of tryptophan.
As far as I'm concerned, every little bit helps. I think taking a couple of teaspoons of EPO a day or including ground seeds in your baked goods might be helpful.
(Ginkgo biloba). Ginkgo is more widely used in stroke recovery and to treat Alzheimer's disease, but I believe it may also help with Parkinson's, because it improves blood circulation through the brain, delivering more L-dopa where it's needed. I suggest trying three capsules a day, each containing 300 to 500 milligrams of a standardized 50:1 ginkgo extract with 25 percent flavonoids. (This information will be on the label.) Just be aware that more than 240 milligrams a day may cause diarrhea, irritability and restlessness. If you experience any of these symptoms, try a lower dose.
(Passiflora incarnata). Two herbalists whom I particularly respect, David Hoffmann, author of The Herbal Handbook, and Michael Tierra, recommend passionflower for treating Parkinson's disease. Many other herbalists do, too. Passionflower contains two reportedly effective anti-Parkinson's compounds--harmine and harmaline alkaloids. If I had Parkinson's, I would take 10 to 30 drops three times a day of a standardized tincture containing 0.7 percent flavonoids. (Again, you'll find this information on the label.)
(Hypericum perforatum). It's a curious thing: Smokers have an unusually low risk of Parkinson's.
Why? Apparently it's because nicotine increases the release of dopamine in the brain. Meanwhile, the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) depresses dopamine, so it would make sense that medications that inhibit MAO (MAO inhibitors) would boost dopamine and decrease Parkinson's risk, just as nicotine does.
MAO inhibitors are a major class of antidepressant medications, and St.-John's-wort is one reported herbal MAO inhibitor. If I had Parkinson's, I'd try a St.-John's-wort tincture standardized to 0.1 percent hypericin and take 20 to 30 drops three times a day. Remember, though, that if you take an MAO inhibitor, whether pharmaceutical or herbal, on a regular basis, there is the possibility of interaction with some foods and medications. You should avoid alcoholic beverages and smoked or pickled foods, as well as cold and hay fever remedies, amphetamines, narcotics, tryptophan and tyrosine. You should not take St.-John's-wort if you're pregnant, and you should avoid intense sun exposure while using it, since this herb can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight.[/b]