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Can You Use Chinese Medicine To Treat Parkinson’s?

c0da25ab-6f03-41e0-9376-f461faa319a7Parkinson’s symptoms, such as muscle tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity, are caused by the progressive destruction of brain cells that produce dopamine. Previous work has suggested that an abundance of a protein called alpha-synuclein may be to blame. Current treatments aim to boost levels of dopamine, which only partly alleviates symptoms and does not affect the protein clusters.

It is thought that clumps of alpha-synuclein accumulate because brain cells cannot remove them through autophagy – a type of programmed cell death. Mice without the genes needed for autophagy quickly develop Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

Chinese medicine may be effective in battling certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and lessening side effects from the drugs used to treat the condition, according to a new study.

Researchers at Hong Kong Baptist University said Gouteng, a traditional Chinese herb used to treat hypertension, helped patients better communicate and made them less prone to depression and sleeping difficulties.

“There is no cure for Parkinson’s right now, but the study showed Chinese medicine can help treat the disease,” a university spokesman told AFP Thursday.

Parkinson’s is a progressive motor-system disorder which usually affects people over the age of 50, although it can strike earlier, often causing severe symptoms including body trembling, stiffness and loss of balance.

The condition is usually treated with a drug called levodopa, which the brain converts into dopamine to relieve the symptoms, but it can also cause nausea and hallucinations.

The Baptist University study found that patients who took Gouteng together with levodopa experienced fewer side effects from the drug while showing a marked improvement in their communication skills. Li Min, an associate professor who led the study, said the findings could also help boost the profile of Chinese medicine.

“They provide not only pharmacological proof of the efficacy of Gouteng in treating Parkinson’s disease, but will also help promote the effectiveness and safety of Chinese medicine to the international medical arena,” she said.

Li – whose team has applied for a US patent, told the South China Morning Post that she expects the herb would start being used to treat the disease after the second phase of the study in 2013.

Parkinson’s symptoms, such as muscle tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity, are caused by the progressive destruction of brain cells that produce dopamine. Previous work has suggested that an abundance of a protein called alpha-synuclein may be to blame. Current treatments aim to boost levels of dopamine, which only partly alleviates symptoms and does not affect the protein clusters.

It is thought that clumps of alpha-synuclein accumulate because brain cells cannot remove them through autophagy – a type of programmed cell death. Mice without the genes needed for autophagy quickly develop Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

Chinese medicine may be effective in battling certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and lessening side effects from the drugs used to treat the condition, according to a new study.

Researchers at Hong Kong Baptist University said Gouteng, a traditional Chinese herb used to treat hypertension, helped patients better communicate and made them less prone to depression and sleeping difficulties.

“There is no cure for Parkinson’s right now, but the study showed Chinese medicine can help treat the disease,” a university spokesman told AFP Thursday.

Parkinson’s is a progressive motor-system disorder which usually affects people over the age of 50, although it can strike earlier, often causing severe symptoms including body trembling, stiffness and loss of balance.

The condition is usually treated with a drug called levodopa, which the brain converts into dopamine to relieve the symptoms, but it can also cause nausea and hallucinations.

The Baptist University study found that patients who took Gouteng together with levodopa experienced fewer side effects from the drug while showing a marked improvement in their communication skills. Li Min, an associate professor who led the study, said the findings could also help boost the profile of Chinese medicine.

“They provide not only pharmacological proof of the efficacy of Gouteng in treating Parkinson’s disease, but will also help promote the effectiveness and safety of Chinese medicine to the international medical arena,” she said.

Li – whose team has applied for a US patent, told the South China Morning Post that she expects the herb would start being used to treat the disease after the second phase of the study in 2013.

2 thoughts on “Can You Use Chinese Medicine To Treat Parkinson’s?”

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