Category Archives: Vitamins and Supplements

Does glutathione help Parkinson’s disease


Glutathione (GTH) is a molecule and potent antioxidant found inglutathione our cells. Glutathione is produced by our bodies and levels decrease with aging, many diseases and Parkinson’s disease.  The role of glutathione is to eliminate these free radicals; in essence, putting out a fire. It is unclear whether the low glutathione content in the PD substantia nigra is due to impaired production, or because the burden of free-radicals is excessive.

IV glutathione is a popular complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy for Parkinson’s yet the benefits are not clear, it is costly and side effects do exist.

In 2009, researchers in Florida conducted a study to determine whether IVGTH showed benefit compared to placebo. Over the four weeks of the study, individuals receiving IV glutathione had a mild improvement in symptoms, while those receiving the placebo did not. This benefit was lost when glutathione was stopped. (Hauser RA, et al. 2009). It is important to note that the differences between these two groups were not significant. While the study is small and only provides preliminary data, it is promising non-the-less.

Mechanism of Action

Continued interest in glutathione  explores this molecules anti-oxidant properties.   The loss of glutathione in the substantia nigra precedes PD symptoms by more than a decade, and occurs prior to the formation of Lewy bodies, considered a PD precursor. Just because low glutathione levels correlate with PD severity, doesn’t mean that the loss of glutathione causes the disease. This is highlighted by the fact that glutathione is decreased in many diseases including cancer, vascular disease and other diseases of aging. We have no idea whether glutathione has the potential to retard disease progression, as the study has not yet been done.

Future Research

More information is needed to determine if glutathione is helpful in Parkinson’s disease. Although studies to date showed no statistically significant difference between placebo treatments and  glutathione many questions are still unanswered such as the optimal dose, timing of treatment in relation to disease severity, and duration of treatment. Studies are on going and investigating other ways of delivery such as intra-nasal spray.

Caution about pills

Since GTH is made up of amino acid precursors (similar to proteins),it is broken down in the gut prior to absorption and therefore little is available for use. It is for this reason that treatments focus on intravenous or IV (administered directly into the bloodstream through the vein.

Safety and ADverse Events

  • Expense of treatment
  • Bruising and Infection at IV site
  • Rare cause of liver damage
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Filed under Complementary Therapy, Nutrition, Vitamins and Supplements, Vitamins and Supplements

Should I take Coenzyme Q10 for my Parkinson’s?


Coenzyme Q (CoQ10) is and over the counter dietary supplement.  Our body’s cells produce Coenzyme Q 10 but this decreases with age and some diseases like Parkinson’s. CoQ10 plays a key role in our cell’s energy production in a specific part of the cell, referred to as the electron transport chain, in our mitochondria. Portion of this electron transport chain is deficient in people with Parkinson’s;  hence CoQ10 may play a role in maintaining the integrity of this process and cell health.

Recent studies did not support original research suggestion a potential benefit of CoQ10 in patients with early Parkinson’s.  A double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial was stopped in 2011 when it was noted that 1200mg or 2400mg for 16 months did not improve symptoms and so is not routinely recommended for treatment.  The following questions are unanswered and situations that may pertain to you serve as a point of discussion with your provider as to whether you should take CoQ10.
  • Would a longer period of use (over 16 months) yield positive results?
  • Will results differ if taken at different stages of disease?
  • Supplements can have side effects even if they are naturally occurring in the body. CoQ10 side effects are minimal but could include bleeding risk, interaction with the blood thinner warfarin.  CoQ10 may reduce blood pressure and interact with some blood pressure medicines.
  • As with all anti-oxidants, do not take if you have cancer unless it is approved by your doctor.
  • CoQ10 is expensive. Can this money be spent on alternative treatment with noted and proven benefits like weight loss, exercise, stress management, personal trainer or health coach.
  • Do not use in place of recommended medicines.
  • As a supplement, CoQ10 is not regulated by the FDA. Be sure any supplement you take is tested to prove it is pure, has the potency that and absorbability that is claimed oon the label and marketing.  One way to do this is to look for the statement USP verified on the label. USP  is an independent laborary that tests for these qualities.

Learn more about CoEnz Q10 on the Wellness Center.

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Filed under Nutrition, Vitamins and Supplements, Vitamins and Supplements