Supplements or “nutraceuticals” and other alternative medicine approaches have the potential to significantly influence our health, sometimes for the better. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplement strategies can assist in impeding the symptoms of neurodegenerative disease, particularly Parkinson’s disease.
Research indicates inflammation and free radical oxidative stress play major roles in the propagation of neurodegenerative diseases.
A few supplements in particular have been found to mitigate damage caused by oxidative stress and/or reduce the activity of TNFa and other inflammatory cytokine pathways.
- N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione, the body’s most important cellular antioxidant. NAC supplemens have been shown to increase cellular glutathione levels.
- Vitamins B12, B6 and folate are metabolic cofactors important for cellular metabolism and maintenance of all tissue cell types, but particularly important to nerve cells. Deficiencies in B12 or folate can raise homocysteine levels, which. have been associated with a higher risk for vascular disease and dementia.
- B12 absorption from the intestine tends to diminish with age. B12 deficiency can damage the nervous system leading to neuropathy, myelopathy, and dementia.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is an essential cofactor in normal cellular metabolism and cellular energy production. The use of ALA as a supplement is under investigation, and has demonstrated improvements in peripheral neuropathy, Alzheimer’s disease, and insulin resistant type II diabetes.
- Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements can reverse symptoms caused by Vitamin C and E deficiencies.
Because “food supplements” do not undergo FDA testing for safety and efficacy, the benefits and risks of any given supplement or brand of supplement are much less certain than with regulated prescription medications. Supplements should only be used under the supervision of a physician.