WHAT CAUSES PARKINSON’S DISEASE?

A substance called dopamine acts as a messenger between two brain areas – the substantia nigra and the corpus striatum – to produce smooth, controlled movements. Most of the movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are caused by a lack of dopamine due to the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra. When the amount of dopamine is too low, communication between the substantia nigra and corpus striatum becomes ineffective, and movement becomes impaired; the greater the loss of dopamine, the worse the movement-related symptoms. Other cells in the brain also degenerate to some degree and may contribute to non-movement related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Although it is well known that lack of dopamine causes the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, it is not clear why the dopamine-producing brain cells deteriorate. Genetic and pathological studies have revealed that various dysfunctional cellular processes, inflammation, and stress can all contribute to cell damage. In addition, abnormal clumps called Lewy bodies, which contain the protein alpha-synuclein, are found in many brain cells of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. The function of these clumps in regards to Parkinson’s disease is not understood. In general, scientists suspect that dopamine loss is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.






INCREASE DOPAMINE: NATURAL HAPPINESS!

Dopamine is neurotransmitter in the brain that plays vital roles in a variety of different behaviors. The major behaviors dopamine affects are movement, cognition, pleasure, and motivation. It is triggered during a variety of activities including food, sex, happiness, addiction (drugs, caffeine), pleasure, pain, motivation and gambling.
The reason Dopamine is critical is it allows us to manage our sensation-seeking mind and allow us to experience genuine pleasure rather than an image of happiness that is unattainable (addiction to foods, drugs, sex or gambling)
Increase Dopamine Through Diet, Exercise and Adequate Sleep.
-Eat foods rich in tyrosine. Almonds, avocados, bananas, low-fat dairy, lima beans, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds may all help your body to produce more dopamine.
-Increase your intake of antioxidants. Dopamine is easy to oxidize, and antioxidants may reduce free radical damage to the brain cells that produce dopamine. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants.
Exercise regularly. Exercise increases blood calcium, which stimulates dopamine production and uptake in your brain. Try 30 to 60 minutes of walking, swimming or jogging to jump-start your dopamine.
-Get plenty of sleep. Your brain uses very little dopamine while you sleep, which helps you to build up your supply naturally for the next day. Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.






WHAT ARE DOPAMINE AGONISTS?

Dopamine agonists are drugs that do not convert to dopamine in the brain, but instead mimic the effect of dopamine on the brain. Dopamine agonists supplement function that has been lost as dopamine-producing neurons die.
While some dopamine agonists have been around for years, new dopamine agonists have been developed that attempt to better manage side effects.
Dopamine agonists can be used alone or in combination with Levodopa/Carbidopa.
Pros
Dopamine agonists cause motor fluctuations, including dyskinesias, less frequently than Levodopa/Carbidopa.
No protein effects as seen with Levodopa/Carbidopa.
Agonists offer potential for alternate forms of delivery (such as a skin patch) that may offer certain advantages over oral administration.
Cons and Complications
Dopamine agonists have not been shown to slow the progression of the disease.
Dopamine agonists are not as effective as Levodopa/Carbidopa for the treatment of motor symptoms.
They may also cause other side effects including daytime sleepiness, sudden unanticipated sleep (“sleep attacks”), hallucinations and risk-taking behavior, such as gambling and sexual obsessions.
Not effective at treating all symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Posture, depression and cognitive problems are not responsive to dopamine agonists.