What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system, especially the motor system of the body. As the motor system is affected, the first symptoms of this condition are always related to the physical movements of the body such as difficulty in walking and running, slower movements, rigid muscles, and tremors.
As the condition progresses, symptoms that are not related to movement begin to appear such as mental health conditions such as depression, and anxiety.
The brain cells substantia nigra that are responsible for producing dopamine in the body are affected and are damaged due to this condition which causes low production of dopamine in the body.
This condition is neither curable, nor are there any strong indicators that can help in finding the causes of this condition, but there are various treatments that can improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
The Connection between Parkinson’s disease and Dopamine
As Parkinson’s disease affects the central nervous system, you will see gradual damage in all the neurotransmitters that play a vital role in various functions of our body, but the link between dopamine and Parkinson’s disease is the strongest.
There are various reasons for it, but let’s talk about the role of dopamine in the smooth functioning of our physical movements.
The basal ganglia is the part of the brain that is in control of the physical movement of the body and Dopamine produced in this particular region affects the very movements that it controls.
Speaking about the role of dopamine in Parkinson’s disease, when there is not enough production of Dopamine in the Basal ganglia, there can be problems in carrying out the physical movements.
It has been found that people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease have a low amount of Dopamine production and as their central nervous system degenerates with it, it gets lower and lower with time. And thus, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease become worse.
Apart from movement, dopamine is the chemical messenger that allows us to feel pleasure and motivates us to achieve something desirable. It is the neurotransmitter that ignites a desire in our body for a reward and also the pleasure associated with it.
We know that the first signs of Parkinson’s disease can often be noticed in weaker physical movements and slower reflexes, and we have already linked the involvement of lack of the chemical messenger Dopamine with those symptoms.
But the other symptoms that can be observed in people suffering from Parkinson’s disease are mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
The release of the neurotransmitter dopamine is vital for us to motivate us to feel the desire for a reward. This chemical messenger is also responsible for our moods and thus we can see that a dip in dopamine production can lead to mood disorders which are common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Apart from the difficulty in making physical movements, and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, Parkinson’s disease also shows degeneration in the cognition function and conditions such as dementia.
Dopamine is produced or secreted in different parts of the brain, and each part uses it for a different body function. When this chemical messenger is released in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, it is used for the purpose of retaining information.
People who suffer from Parkinson’s disease often have a hard time recalling information, and both their short-term as well as long-term memory is affected adversely.
Many studies have shown evidence that an adequate amount of dopamine secretion in the prefrontal cortex of the brain is linked with healthy memory retention capacity.
Apart from memory, our brain’s entire cognitive function depends on the adequate production of dopamine in different parts of the brain. There is a lot involved in our cognitive functions, which include the ability to collect, store, process, and analyze information. All these functions are achieved collectively with the cooperation between different parts of the brain, which has one combining factor, which is an adequate amount of dopamine.
Thus, we can say that the imbalance of dopamine, especially less production of this pleasure-giving neurotransmitter can cause memory problems, weaken cognitive functions, and cause mood disorders such as anxiety and depression along with the deterioration of physical movements.
All these are symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and thus many studies strongly suggest that the role of dopamine is vital in the treatment of the incurable condition.
The Treatments Available for Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is a fatal condition, though it takes a long time to show complete the degeneration of the entire nervous system.
There is absolutely no cure for this condition, and one reason behind this setback of medical science is the fact that the cause of the condition is not evident or definite.
The most that people have found after various tests and studies is the possibility that this condition may be caused due to low dopamine levels produced and its gradual decrease with time.
But based on the examination of the multiple cases of Parkinson’s disease in this condition can be traced back to side-effects of certain medical drugs such as phenothiazine and metoclopramide.
People who are in constant contact with pesticides have been found to be at a higher risk of suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
In such cases, when the drug or pesticide is removed from their body, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease improve and the condition is even reversed in certain cases.
This condition can also be genetic and in such cases, treating the symptoms is the best way to deal with it as the possibility of this condition can skip generations.
How Does the Combination of Levodopa+ Carbidopa + Entacapone treatment help for Managing Parkinson’s disease?
As far as medicinal treatments are considered, people suffering from Parkinson’s disease are prescribed which are taken as a combination of Levodopa, Carbidopa, and Entacapone.
And these drugs bring us back to the potential of Dopamine Supplements as a reliable treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
We need Dopamine Boosters such as Levodopa, being a precursor of Dopamine can reach the brain and can thus be converted into Dopamine in the Basal Ganglia of the brain.
The drugs Carbidopa and Entacapone are both given to ensure that adequate amounts of Levodopa drug can pass to the brain for the adequate conversion of Dopamine in the body. Both these drugs essentially prevent the effects of Levodopa to wear off before the time of the next dosage of the condition.
There are various brands of these drugs available in the market such as Entacom which are prescribed in combination for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Using these three drugs together has proved to show modest results, and allows the person suffering from Parkinson’s disease to live a more satisfactory life.
Apart from the use of oral medications, physiotherapy is also prescribed for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, but most of the time, it is for improving the symptoms related to the physical movements of the body. But physical therapy seems to show less positive impact as the degeneration of neurons in the substantia nigra begins to increase.
Surgical treatment for Parkinson’s disease is also available, but that only works for improving the symptoms related to physical movement, which can also be achieved by the use of the drug Levodopa. It is also considered for people who haven’t responded well to the oral drugs for the treatment of the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
The other ways of treatment of Parkinson’s disease include Palliative care which is a medical treatment focused on treating the symptoms of a chronic condition.