How L-Dopa Supports the Nerves and Parkinson’s
The discovery of L-Dopa has long been hailed as one of the most important breakthroughs in Parkinson’s disease research. Experts even harnessed it into certain potent medications to treat Parkinson’s disease and nerve disorders that present with the same symptoms. Although these L-Dopa medications were developed in the 1960s, they continue to be the primary form of symptom treatment today.
But how does L-Dopa work? And are there other ways to support nerve health? We will dive into this powerful amino acid, including benefits, side effects, warnings, and natural ways to help healthy nerves.
What is L-Dopa?
L-Dopa is a specific type of amino acid that the body uses to create dopamine in the body. Certain medications use L-Dopa to treat Parkinson’s disease and other diseases with Parkinson-like symptoms that affect the nerves. Some of these other conditions sometimes treated with L-Dopa drugs include Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), after encephalitis or a nervous system injury. However, these medications can cause nausea, so they are often coupled with an antiemetic to negate these symptoms.
How Does L-Dopa Work?
Parkinson’s, and many disorders that affect the nerves, affect the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls movement and activities, such as walking, coordination, and talking. In the case of many nerve disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, the death of dopamine neurons in the brain result in a deficiency that causes many of the motor symptoms.
L-Dopa works by crossing the blood-brain barrier and providing the body with the building blocks it needs to create this missing dopamine. The dopamine then helps treat the slowness, stiffness, and tremors common with Parkinson’s disease and other nerve disorders. In addition to working with the brain to synthesize more dopamine, experts also think that L-Dopa can contribute other therapeutic effects. In fact, they believe that it might act as a neurotransmitter itself.
While medications that use L-Dopa can be powerful in slowing the symptoms of disease, they also come with a number of side effects that can make life uncomfortable. Also, its effectiveness decreases over time and motor problems may happen in response to treatment. In many cases, those with Parkinson’s disease and their loved ones may want to find additional support for a better quality of life.
How Herbs and Mushrooms Can Naturally Support the Nerves
Beyond medication, there are a number of ways to help support healthy nerves and get L-Dopa naturally. For thousands of years, traditional health practitioners noted that certain herbs, roots, and mushrooms helped improve their patient’s activity and overall wellbeing. They created protocols to help those with nerve disorders reduce their symptoms and regain a better quality of life.
Since then, researchers have been able to research these supplements. They have found that many of them have potent properties to help support nerve health, including L-Dopa. In fact, some of them have the same active ingredients of certain medications that make them so powerful without many of the side effects that modern drugs often have.
Some of these powerful botanicals include:
Lion’s mane owes its name to its white and hair-like appearance, but it’s fitting for the potent mushroom. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have long used lion’s mane for its many health benefits.
However, the recent research on its many benefits has made the mushroom explode in popularity over the past few years. It is especially popular as a nootropic and its brain-boosting capabilities.
While that does have exciting potential for those with nerve challenges, lion’s mane offers more than that.
Often, medication is prescribed after an injury that impacts the nerves. Lion’s mane can help speed recovery after an injury to the nervous system.
Depression in nerve disorders like Parkinson’s disease is extremely common. It’s unknown whether having a nerve disorder contributes to depression or is a symptom of the conditions themselves. However, there is a clear link between the two. Lion’s mane has mood-boosting properties that help improve the overall quality of life for those with nerve disorders.
Researchers found that the anti-inflammatory properties in lion’s mane reduce the symptoms of depression in animal models. A 2019 review found that lion’s mane had potential as an alternative treatment of depression and needed to be researched further.
For those who need nerve support, lion’s mane can provide a critical boost for both the mind and body.
Horny Goat Weed
Horny goat weed, also referred to as Epimedium, is well known for improving desire and performance in the bedroom. However, its potent properties do far more than that. Health practitioners in China have long used Epimedium to treat bedroom dysfunction, fatigue, arthritic pain, and nerve pain.
The many benefits of Epimedium are mostly due to its particularly high concentration of the property icariin. Researchers have found that icariin has an incredible impact on nerve health and regeneration. A recent 2021 study found that it promotes the repair of nerve cells in the spinal cord. Another 2018 study on rats found that it promoted stem cell growth in the brain and enhanced motor recovery.
In addition to these more recent studies, previous research shows that icariin has a significant impact on nerve growth and regeneration outside of the brain as well. One study on rats shows that Epimedium extract promoted peripheral nerve regeneration and improved function in damaged nerves.
Epimedium has properties that can significantly improve fatigue where medication cannot. A 2021 study found that it helped reduce fatigue in male rats. Another study found that icariin impacted glands that regulate energy in the body.
For those that need a boost of energy in addition to nerve support, horny goat weed is a powerful aid.
Mucuna pruriens, which is often also called velvet bean or dopa bean, is a legume that grows from vines that support healthy dopamine levels. It is an itchy substance with a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. Practitioners would use it as a nerve tonic and even treat Parkinson’s disease.
Today, researchers have found that it is one of the highest natural sources of L-dopa, the active ingredient in Parkinson’s medication. As a result, it is a potent boost for the nerves and powerful support against nerve disorders.
One small, double-blind study sought to compare dopamine medication and Mucuna pruriens. Researchers found that the bean acted more quickly and lasted longer. Another 2017 double-blind study also found that Mucuna pruriens worked faster, lasted longer, and had fewer dyskinesias.
Although the initial research is promising, more long-term studies need to be done. One small, long-term study found that half of those taking the bean dropped out because of gastrointestinal symptoms or worsening symptoms. However, one case study of a 48-year-old woman with Parkinson’s disease found that her symptoms improved when adding certain medications with her dosage of Mucuna pruriens. It could be that taking something to calm the stomach might promote long-term usage.
In addition, the dopamine-enhancing effects of Mucuna pruriens can also help improve mood. One study found that the bean exhibited an antidepressant effect on animal models. Another study also found that animals who took it for two weeks also saw an increase in critical mood neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
Mucuna Pruriens can provide critical nerve and mood support for those who need a boost.
Cruciferous vegetables are a dietary staple across cultures and are long known to be a healthy food. In fact, scientists have even found preserved seeds from the cruciferous family in China from 5000 B.C. Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage were considered a remedy for many conditions in the Middle Ages.
Today, scientists have isolated many of the critical compounds in these vegetables and found many benefits. Sulforaphane (or SFN) is a natural compound found in cruciferous vegetables and is found to have a number of benefits for the nerves.
One 2019 review found that SFN protects the nervous system through multiple mechanisms. Researchers found that it reduces the risk of developing various diseases and reduced symptoms for those with nerve disorders.
Another 2019 review also found that it helped slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, as well as other nerve disorders. Another 2020 study also found that it helped slow the progression of these diseases.
The research on SFN is still new, and more studies on humans need to be done to substantiate many of these findings. However, the initial science is very promising in helping those who struggle with nerve issues and disorders and supporting overall nerve health.
Support Nerve Health Naturally
Parkinson’s has powerful medications that help treat many of the symptoms and disorders that mimic its symptoms. There are also natural ways to support nerve health and slow down the progression of the disease though.
While each of these botanicals is powerful on its own, combining them together can help harness their many benefits in one convenient formula. We’ve put these potent plants derived from the purest sources in our nerve-support supplement, Neuro Regen. Backed by historical use and scientific studies, each ingredient is specifically chosen to support nerve health.
Nerve support can come in many different forms. Although medication may be necessary, natural support can reduce the risk of developing disease and slow the progression of nerve disorders.
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