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Guest blog from Tim Cutcliffe - PD patient and scientist

Tim sent us this thoughtful blog

Living with Parkinson's Disease (PD) presents numerous challenges for me, not least of which are the varied symptoms that can significantly impact my quality of life. Among these symptoms, anxiety often emerges as a major issue, intricately linked to the workings of neurotransmitters within my brain.

My thoughts on PD

One of the primary medications prescribed for PD, levodopa, whilst effective in managing my motor symptoms, can inadvertently interfere with the serotonin neurotransmission system. This interference contributes to the manifestation of anxiety in certain individuals with PD, including me. In an attempt to address this anxiety, doctors frequently prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), aiming to rebalance serotonin levels. However, the use of SSRIs can paradoxically decrease dopamine firing, raising the intriguing possibility of a negative feedback loop within the brain's neural pathways.

GABA collapse hypothesis

Delving deeper into the neurochemistry of anxiety in PD, patients/researchers like me are exploring the GABA collapse hypothesis. This theory posits that excessive calcium influx into neuronal cells can precipitate a collapse in the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system. As a result, neurons become more vulnerable to the cytotoxic effects of glutamate, even at normal levels.

In the quest for relief from anxiety, individuals often turn to medications like valium, which act on GABA receptors to induce a calming effect. However, it's essential to note that benzodiazepines, including valium, can downregulate GABA receptors over time, exacerbating anxiety symptoms rather than alleviating them.

I am actively investigating various avenues for managing my anxiety. Investigations include non-invasive interventions such as vagus nerve stimulation, which offers an alternative to more invasive deep brain stimulation (DBS). Additionally, holistic approaches like the Wim Hof method and cranio-sacral therapy are gaining my attention for their potential to improve overall well-being in PD patients.

Exploring emerging therapies and potential adjuncts to conventional treatment, I want to highlight intriguing possibilities such as Nurosym, methylene blue, and strategies for mitochondrial repair. Moreover, I am looking neurotransmitter optimisation through natural monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and the potential therapeutic benefits of oxytocin.

The mighty hug

Among the more unconventional yet intriguing interventions is the profound effect of human connection—a simple hug. Remarkably, anecdotal evidence suggests that a sustained embrace for more than 20 seconds can temporarily alleviate tremors, possibly mediated by the release of oxytocin, the "bonding hormone."

In the realm of pharmacological options, I have considered the pros and cons of medications like amytripteline. While amytripteline shows promise as a sleep aid, anxiety reducer, and general pain reliever, its anti-cholinergic and cardiotoxic properties warrant careful consideration.

In essence

My current research and musings offer a glimpse into the multifaceted nature of managing anxiety in PD. By exploring the intricate interplay of neurotransmitters, investigating innovative therapies, and embracing holistic approaches, there's hope for a brighter future for individuals navigating the complexities of Parkinson's Disease.

Who is Tim?

Tim graduated in 1981 with a degree in Chemical Engineering with Management Science from Imperial College London. He spent 37 years the oil industry with roles in refining, shipping and trading. During this time,  he also undertook an MBA at Cass Business School, London, graduating in 1988. In 2008 he commenced a master's degree in Nutritional Medicine at University of Surrey. Despite being the only non-medical professional on the course, he graduated in 2013 with a distinction. After a few years self-employed consultancy and a brief period as a journalist for an online nutrition publication, he retired in 2019 due to the severe health effects resulting from exposure to fluoroquinolone antibiotics. He was diagnosed in 2021 with Parkinson's disease although symptoms started just after the antibiotic exposure in 2019. Since this time he has researched constantly into natural supplements and alternative treatments to combat the progression of Parkinson's Disease.



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