Parkinson's disease was first described as shaking palsy in 1817 by a London physician named James Parkinson. Now it involves progressive degeneration of neurons in a region of the brain that relates to movement. This degeneration causes a decline of dopamine, which is the cause of the movement dysfunctions that characterize the disease.
1- Tremor of limbs especially when the body is at rest (i.e. restless legs syndrome). Often one sided tremors especially in one hand. As the disease progresses, both sides of the body may be affected and shaking of the head cab also occur.
2- Slow movement.
3- Rigidity of limbs and difficulty to start moving around.
4- Reduction in face expressions and Shuffling gait, a stooped posture.
5- In about 33% of the cases, the disease also causes or is associated with speech impairments, changes in personality and depression, forgetfulness, difficulties in sleep, sexual dysfunction.
Parkinson's disease is associated with aging: it affects about 6% of those over the age of 65 (average age of onset is about 60), affecting more men than women. Causes of Parkinson's disease are not fully known, but there are genetic factors involved in susceptibility and there may be contributions from a variety of habitual activities. Coffee consumption, for example, appears to help protect against getting this disease.
There is no known cure for Parkinson's disease. However ear acupuncture has been shown promising. Many patients are only mildly affected and need no treatment for several years after the initial diagnosis. When symptoms grow severely, doctors usually prescribe levodopa (L-dopa), which helps replenish the brain's dopamine. Sometimes doctors prescribe other drugs that affect dopamine levels in the brain (e.g., drugs that inhibit the breakdown of dopamine). In patients who are very severely affected, surgery and various experimental procedures may be attempted. None of the current therapies have long-term success.
TCM view of Parkinson's:
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this kind of disease is liver related and it is wind that affects the muscles and ligaments. Treatment of this using Chinese herbal medicine is effective and it can adjust this nervous system's condition through TCM theory.
Wind is internally generated due to Yin or Blood deficiency as a root cause. When Yin and Blood are deficient muscles are not nourished properly and that can affect the brain as well. This can cause interior wind to rise. Poor life style and stressful situations can also lead to Liver Qi stagnation and if it is on a chronic basis the Liver Qi stagnation can cause Liver heat and eventually Liver wind that contributes to the interior wind.
Acupuncture and electroacupuncture intervention improves muscle and ligament function in 50-70% of affected people. Clinical observations have noted that acupressure is effective in promoting qi in muscle and joints, reducing tremors and relieving pain. Acupressure can improve muscle rigidity, akinesia (lack of movement) and neural system functions. In western medicine, the cause for this disease is unclear, but it is believed to be a degeneration of special nerve cells in the brain, and long term care is very important.
Scalp acupuncture on the opposite side of the affected limb can also be used with body points.