Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness.
Apparently results in a first ever in vivo look at synaptic transmission and levels of consciousness shows some serious results with dopamine. It would be wonderful if this could help. This is something we could all try. If anyone want to do a little white research project.
Results in 65% increase in endogenous dopamine release. All participants reported a decreased desire for action during meditation, along with heightened sensory imagery… It is suggested that being in the conscious state of meditation causes a suppression of cortico-striatal glutamatergic transmission. To our knowledge this is the first time in vivo evidence has been provided for regulation of conscious states at a synaptic level.
In synergy with the 7 therapies , I plan on adding meditation videos for all users of Hydro Boreal Therapy in simultaneous all around the world. Synchronicity of thoughts is the key to induce change on individuals and collectively.
OXIDATIVE STRESS IN PARKINSON’S DISEASE:
Oxidative stress contributes to the cascade leading to dopamine cell degeneration in Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, oxidative stress is intimately linked to other components of the degenerative process, such as mitochondrial dysfunction, excitotoxicity, nitric oxide toxicity and inflammation. It is therefore difficult to determine whether oxidative stress leads to, or is a consequence of, these events. Oxidative damage to lipids,proteins, and DNA occurs in PD, and toxic products of oxidative damage, such as 4hydroxynonenal (HNE), can react with proteins to impair cell viability. There is convincing evidence for the involvement of nitric oxide that reacts with superoxide to produce peroxynitrite and ultimately hydroxyl radical production. Recently, altered ubiquitination and degradation of proteins have been implicated as key to dopaminergic cell death in PD. Oxidative stress can impair these processes directly, and products of oxidative damage,such as HNE, can damage the 26S proteasome. Furthermore, impairment of proteasomal function leads to free radical generation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs in idiopathic PD and products of oxidative damage interfere with cellular function, but these form only part of a cascade, and it is not possible to separate them from other events involved in dopaminergic cell death.
Sleep disturbances are widespread among older adults. Degenerative neurologic disorders that cause dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, exacerbate age related changes in sleep, as do many common comorbid medical and psychiatric conditions. Medications used to treat chronic illness and insomnia have many side effects that can further disrupt sleep and place patients at risk for injury.
Current estimates indicate that 35 million Americans over the age of 65 years are living in the United States. This number is expected to double by the year 2030. Along with advanced age comes a myriad of chronic illnesses, many of which eventually cause dementia. The decreased functional status, changes in cognition and mood, and behavioral disruptions, including sleep disturbances, that are frequently seen in people with dementia place significant stress on the family and caregivers. The resulting increased burden is associated with increased rates of institutionalization and increases in overall health care costs.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia in the United States. Current estimates indicate that 5.1 million Americans are living with AD. Most of these individuals are over the age of 65 years, and the prevalence rate increases with advancing age. As a result of the aging baby boomer population, by the year 2050, it is projected that 60% of those over the age of 85 years—11 to 16 million individuals—will have AD [1,6].
Crosssectional studies suggest that approximately 25% to 35% of individuals with AD have problems sleeping [7•]. Sleep disturbances in AD are believed to be a result of a progressive deterioration and decrease in the number of neurons in the SCN, which cause fluctuations in neurohormones that are critical in the homeostatic maintenance of the circadian rhythm.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is caused by progressive degeneration of the substantia nigra, which normally produces the neurotransmitter dopamine. The reduction in the manufacturing of dopamine causes “misfiring” of nerve impulses within the brain and results in the characteristic motor abnormalities seen in the disease. The onset of dementia in PD patients typically occurs 10 or more years after the initial onset of motor signs. PD is part of a complex of neurodegenerative disorders called the synucleinopathies, which also include diffuse Lewy body disease (DLBD). DLBD shares many pathologic characteristics with PD and AD, including the presence of Lewy bodies and senile plaques, but is clinically distinguished by a more rapid onset and progression of dementia, fluctuating cognition with variations in attention and alertness, recurrent visual hallucinations, and parkinsonian motor signs .
Sleep disturbances are highly prevalent among patients with PD and DLBD [7•,11]. Common problems include prolonged sleep latency, increased nighttime sleep fragmentation, nightmares, and increases in earlymorning awakenings. Patients with PD often ask whether stress affects their PD symptoms. The answer is a definite “Yes!” While we don’t know the exact mechanism for this, it does appear that many patients describe worsening of symptoms, including tremor, slowness and difficulty walking when in stressful situations.
John Coleman ND.
Following last month’s article on meditation, we received an interesting email from John Coleman ND who has reversed his Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms without the need for medication. Here he shares his personal views on the benefits of meditation as well as his own personal PD journey with theparkinsonhub.
“The process leading to symptoms of Parkinson’s disease begins many years before we are aware of unwellness. Even then, it may take months or years before diagnosis with a “disease”. A number of prominent researchers have postulated the theory that degenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, develop from a dysfunction in the Hypothalamus/Pituitary/Adrenal Axis (HPA Axis) in early childhood or even in utero.
Despite our blasé acceptance of the modern world, our body is poorly adapted to stressors that have been part of daily life for only a short period relative to human existence. We have not been able to evolve protection against industrial chemicals invented over the past two centuries but, more importantly, we have not adapted to the pressures of living in close proximity to thousands of our fellow humans, working to artificial time tables available since the invention of electricity, and the myriad of social pressures imposed by a materialistic society.
The theory of Parkinson’s disease development from HPA Axis dysfunction is premised on hypothalamic control of the Fight/Flight/Freeze Response (our instinctive response to danger). This response to perceived danger dramatically increases adrenal output of adrenaline/epinephrine, cortisol, testosterone, nor-adrenaline and aldosterone. Together, these chemicals allow us to utilise increased energy to oppose a threat to our safety (Fight), run away from danger (Flight), or remain motionless to avoid detection (Freeze). While this is a remarkably effective way to maintain safety, and has served humanity well over millennia, continuous production of cortisol in the face of unresolvable stress can create long term damage in metabolic function. The type of damage and ultimate results are, in part, dependant on genetic programming, but also of life choices and environment.
Let’s be clear, acute stress can be beneficial3,5. This is the stress induced when we are preparing for a new activity, going to visit friends or family, shopping for hobby supplies and so on. We produce adrenal hormones to support out function as needed, and production reduces as we complete our task or activity. This is good, and helps maintain a healthy interest in life, and energy-giving activity.
Our task, as People with Parkinson’s (PwP), is to reduce our chronic stress in the present and mitigate the damaging effects of chronic stress from the past. The former is best addressed by making appropriate lifestyle choices and working with family, employers and friends to create daily and weekly programs that will promote calmness, excitement and joy as a priority. There are many strategies and techniques to deal with the latter, some more effective than others, and some more expensive than others. Meditation is a tool that is under our personal control, effective at reversing the effects of prolonged stress, inexpensive (usually free), and can be slotted into our day flexibly and easily.
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
There are many definitions and structured forms of meditation, but I like to keep it simple. In my view, meditation is a time of day we deliberately set aside to create a feeling of peace and joy on a regular basis. Thought processes or activities that bring our brainwave frequencies into alpha range (7-13 MHz) or lower can be classed as meditation. I believe meditation is a natural instinct for humans that we have suppressed with our busy lifestyle, or translated into formalised religion that eschews meditation. I certainly support involvement in loving and supportive religious belief systems for those who choose this. However, religious ceremony and prayer, while an important part of religious processes, are not the same as meditation, and have different effects on the brain.
Meditation may consist of sitting quietly while holding a peaceful thought for several minutes (or longer); listening to peaceful music in a comfortable, safe place; following a guided meditation on CD that helps us to relax our body progressively, then calm our thoughts; repeating a mantra (word or phrase) that brings a feeling of peacefulness; joining a meditation group where we can be led on a “meditation journey” by an experience leader; listening to binaural-frequency CDs that help bring our brains into alpha range or lower; or even walking safely in a peaceful place (e.g. in a garden or by a river) while we peacefully celebrate the beauty around us.
In 1995, I developed symptoms of advanced Parkinson’s disease with severe tremor, festinating walk, unintelligible speech, mask-like facial expression, significant pain, constipation and urinary incontinence. During my three year journey to a symptom-free state, I utilised a number of self-help strategies and complementary remedies. Prime among my activities was daily meditation, and involvement in a weekly meditation group. I observed that, while meditating, many of my symptoms reduced in intensity and, over time, this intensity reduction lasted for some time after meditating. Other benefits I noticed were improved sleep patterns, clearer thought processes and, interestingly, improved relationships with work colleagues. If I missed my daily meditation for any reason, I found I was less able to make decisions, my tremor increased, and I felt generally less well.
Since my graduation from Naturopathic College in 1998, I have treated over 2000 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Most have seen me for a relatively short time, but were not willing to make the lifestyle changes I asked for, and preferred to stay within the confines of conservative Western medical treatment. Some embraced part or all of my philosophy of healing, and have made significant improvements in their quality of life. Meditation was/is an important part of improving quality of life when faced with any chronic disorder.
Specific benefits noted by my patients when meditating included reduced tremor, reduced pain, increased energy, feeling “more peaceful”, and improved communication with loved ones. To my knowledge, there has not been a blinded trial of meditation for PwP despite my best efforts to find funding and a suitable tertiary institution to follow through. However, Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, University of Massachusetts Medical School, found a strong correlation between mindfulness meditation and reduction in chronic pain.
Daily meditation has always been part of my protocol for mitigating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. While there is no definitive research available to show exactly what meditation does for PwP, a 2004 survey and analysis of clinical data from 59 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and treated by neurologists while working with me showed encouraging results. All patients surveyed made dietary changes, took specific remedies to enhance cell hydration, exercised and meditated daily. 75% of participants were taking Western medication, while 25% remained medication free. Eco Stats, a biostatistician, analysed the data and found that 56 participants showed significant improvement in symptom intensity, two remained static while one showed mild worsening of symptoms.
My clinical observation has shown that those who meditate daily are better able to make other lifestyle choices that may mitigate symptoms. Another interesting observation has been the beneficial effects of meditation for those taking Western medication. There is no doubt that there are limits to the effectiveness of current medication regimens, both in duration of benefits and long-term viability. I have observed that those who meditate before, during and after taking medication, gain more benefit and can use a lower dose for a longer period of time. Their routine may simply be a few minutes of meditation, take the medication, then meditate for a few more minutes. Perhaps “Meditation with Medication” could be a motto adopted by Parkinson’s associations.
A fascinating case history involves a gentleman in his late seventies with advanced Parkinson’s, taking high dose levodopa drugs, plus agonists, and was confined to bed or wheelchair. He was unable to stand even with assistance, and it took great effort to affect transfer from bed to chair and vice versa. His voice was soft and speech patterns garbled. Communication was extremely difficult. He was not considered a suitable candidate for surgical intervention.
His wife began using binaural frequency meditation CD’s with him. She would place stereo headphones on him, and play the CD for 20-30 minutes. After two weeks of this routine, she noticed that, for a few minutes after meditation, her husband would speak quite clearly and with greater volume. After two more weeks, he began to stand with support after each meditation session. The duration of improvement slowly extended until he could stand with support, and move around slowly, for up to 30 minutes after meditation, and clear speech lasted even longer. Meditation was the only change made in his routine.
A gentleman in his fifties attended a four day self-help program I conducted as few years ago. His main challenge was intense pain in his feet all the time. He said that he felt as if he was “walking on broken glass” all the time. Even in bed, the pain persisted. Part of my program was daily meditation; early morning was voluntary, a session in the middle of the day was mandatory. This gentleman attended both meditation sessions each day. On the third day, he reported that the pain had diminished by about 70%. By the fourth day, the pain had all but gone. I heard from the gentleman twice in the three months after program; he was maintaining his meditation discipline, and his pain level remained low. I was not able to follow his ongoing health as he was not my clinical patient.
One of my patients, a lady in her seventies, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease ten years ago. She embraced my protocol with some enthusiasm and was able to function well without medication for five years. Following a “close encounter”: with cancer, she began taking a levodopa drug at very low dose. Over the last five years, her medication intake has only reached 300mg daily. We have both noticed (she is a very aware and intelligent lady) that any stressful situation increases her PD symptoms. When she takes time to meditate, using a combination of mindfulness techniques with guided meditations, her symptoms reduce in intensity and her medication gives more benefit.
It would be very useful to conduct a blinded, placebo controlled study on the benefits of meditation for those with Parkinson’s. It’s not a hard study to create, it simply needs moderate funding and a tertiary institution willing to do the work. I am sure there are many PhD students who would welcome the opportunity.
My personal and clinical experience leaves me in no doubt that meditation is a valuable tool to reduce the severity of Parkinson’s symptoms, and improve the efficacy of medication.