East meets West when it comes to Parkinson’s treatments

New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (NYCTCM)/Flickr.com
New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (NYCTCM)/Flickr.com

There have been a number of articles recently discussing the effectiveness of acupuncture in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s. Being a science-minded guy, I was very skeptical of the claims. It sounds like Voodoo to me. And there pops up a hidden prejudice against things not Western.

But this wobbling of my science foundation did not start here. Three years ago, I began taking Tai Chi because it was free, and at that time (clinically unproven) claimed to help PD patients with balance and stiffness. But it was free. Three years later, people who have heard me speak on my journey remember me as the man who stands on one foot.  During the part of the speech about exercise and Tai Chi, I stand unaided on one foot for 30 seconds. So have I become the snake oil salesman? I don’t believe so. Maybe I have become enlightened.

So last month at our support group, I  reported the study from the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Traditional Medicine that found two acupuncture points that “prevent decrease of the L-dopa creating enzymes in the thalamic portion of the brain thereby improving the motor function that is destroyed by Parkinson’s disease.” Usually I am very cautious about these new findings (prejudice again?). But there was something that was very interesting.

But first let me let you into my thought process. A number of years ago there were multiple studies (some are still ongoing) about the benefits of bicycle riding for Parkinson’s patients. There is a fascinating video of a man in England who has significant freezing and gait issues. When they put him on a bike the results were breathtaking. Just watch this short clip: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaY3gz5tJSk.

Everyone who sees the video wonders what is causing the result? What is different from bicycle riding and running? Wait for it… The bicycle rider has pressure placed only on the ball of the foot. Where the hell am I going?

One of the acupuncture articles actually discusses the two acupuncture points that help Parkinson’s patients. Where do you think one of them is? It is on the foot between the large toe and the second toe on the edge of the ball of the foot. Click. Now I’ve got something scientific to talk about, maybe. Now I would normally stop there and let the group members digest the information, but not this time. I volunteered to see an acupuncturist to see if it helped. Well there is not an ending to the story yet because I have been delayed in making the visit, so you will have to wait for the next blog post, or as they say on television “to be continued.”

TWO SHOES ON AGAIN (with needles in them before next time).


About bobharmon49

Parkinson’s Cure Research Funding, Inc. (“PCRF”) was founded in November, 2010 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to raising money for Parkinson’s disease research and patient support. The corporation’s main fundraising event is an annual golf tournament held in April at the Lake Ashton community in Winter Haven and Lake Wales, Florida. Proceeds from the event have been donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation. Prior to forming PCRF the first golf tournament was held in April 2009 and we raised $12,000. The second tournament in April 2010 raised $27,000. Our next tournament will be held on April 7, 2012. At each of the first two golf outings, 215 players filled the two 18 hole golf courses at Lake Ashton. PCRF was founded by Bob and Cecily Harmon. Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006 and is still very active playing golf and working to help find a cure for PD through fund-raising. He has recently been named to the Southwest Florida Regional Council of the Michael J Fox Foundation. Their mission is to drive ideas about local engagement opportunities to increase Parkinson’s Disease awareness, enhance education efforts and connect with untapped resources to develop the overall expansion of the Fox Foundation in Florida. The Harmon’s facilitate the Lake Ashton Parkinson’s Outreach Group which supports local Parkinson’s patients and their care partners. The group meets on the first Friday of every month at 10am at Lake Ashton and is open to the Parkinson’s community in the general public.

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