Monday, July 13, 2009

Along the Parkinson's Disease G-I Tract

Who put the pee in PD?

Many Parkinson's patients have problems along the gastro-intestinal tract because of the affects of losing some control of their autonomic nervous systems (aka: visceral nervous system) part of the central nervous system. I'm no exception. I have swallowing issues, some digestion and constipation problems, sleeping disruption and sexual function disorders to greater or lessor extents.

In the past winter when I had difficult sleeping problems, I eventually overcame them without using more PD medications or supplements. But the urinary problems that made the sleep disorder more problematic continued.

The last couple weeks I have started suffering from increased urinary frequency, which has caused me to have "accidents" with no warning at all. There are prescription drugs to treat this, but the side effects for PWPs can be daunting. If I were still employed I would have to use those meds but since I'm not, I have the luxury of time to try alternative treatments.

Although my usage is not constant, I've been taking pumpkin seed and saw palmetto as often as possible to cut down on the number of times I wake up during the night because I have to urinate. I have felt the need to look for another herbal treatment to use in addition and have been trying stinging nettle with good results in combating urinary frequency.

In the past with my doctor's blessing I've used Viagra to treat my parkinson's related ED problem. The results were very exciting. The results have produced no side affects. However my wife who is my carer and lover feels that Viagra could be harmful for me and asked me to stop using it, which I have done.

Meanwhile I started on the nettle and after a couple of nights she asked me if I was using Viagra again to which I told her no. She replied that "it sure felt like I was!" I am trying to determine if this is a direct result of the nettle or possibly the pumpkin seed.

In favor of stinging nettle is its medical history for hundreds of years. In medieval times it was used as a diuretic and as an arthritic joint pain treatment. It is still used to alone or with NSAIDs to reduce inflammation and sore muscles. My wife used to use it regularly to prepare for allergy seasons.

The Roman soldiers in more northerly campaigns used it to create body heat through its skin irritation properties. It is still used to treat enlarged prostate. Coupled with saw palmetto and pumpkin seed it is used for a variety of urinary issues in men: reduced flow, incomplete bladder emptying, dripping after urination and feeling a constant need to urinate. It may slow the growth of prostate cells. Chemical components affect both testosterone and estrogen.

Just as with any medication, when taking supplements one has to check for food, drug, condition interactions. Stinging nettle is no different. For some people it is contraindicated. Because I am taking both Atenolol, a beta blocker for my heart condition and Dynacirc CR for its benefit as a calcium channel blocker for PD, I have to be aware that nettle can increase the effects of both medications, meaning that my blood pressure can drop...

which may not be so bad except that I may need to be careful about the nettle dosage because I also have Parkinson's and stinging nettles contain the following phytochemicals most of which are helpful but we're not so sure about some: histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, flavonol glycosides, sitosterol, lectin, coumarins, hydroxysitosterol, scopoletin, tannins and lignans.

So I won't overdo it but it's time for a positive change.

additional reading:Stinging Nettle

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