Parkinsonism is a neurological disorder characterized by tremor, dyskinesia, rigidity and deficiency of facial expression The symptoms may involve only one side of the body at first but gradually involve the other side, produce speech impairment and a shuffling unsteady gait with the arms flexed and the hands making involuntary pill-rolling movements. The mind usually remains clear, but the patient tends to become depressed about his situation.
Until the introduction of psychotropic drugs, especially phenothiazines, Parkinsonism was seldom seen in people less than 50 years old and considered to be a delayed result of encephalitis or cerebral arteriosclerosis. Now this syndrome is frequently seen in people of any age who take such drugs as Thorazine and Mellaril which damage the basal ganglia of the brain.
Drugs such as Artane and antihistamines may be somewhat effective in relieving symptoms but have undesirable side effects and tend to become less effective the longer they are taken, especially if the brain-damaging tranquilizers are continued. L-Dopa may be more effective than other drugs in relieving symptoms but has worse side-effects. Surgery destroying various parts of the brain, such as the thalamic nuclei, has been attempted but often has done more harm than good. Many people have died or become paralyzed and speechless as the result of brain surgery for Parkinsonism.
Acupuncture seems to be the safest and most effective treatment for Parkinsonism Most patients demonstrate significant improvement in coordination and reduction of tremor by the time they have had ten treatments. For severe or long-standing cases many more treatments may be indicated. To maintain remission of symptoms, some patients need a series of ten treatments every three or four months.
All psychotropic and "anti-parkinsonian" drugs should be discontinued promptly. Acupuncture can treat depression and other emotional problems at the same time the Parkinsonism is being treated. Acupuncture may be more effective than drugs even for schizophrenia.
Patients should have a high protein low carbohydrate diet and adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals.