The primary goal of anyone experiencing Parkinson’s is getting relief from the symptoms. Be it the trembling, tension, clenching, loss of balance, anxiety, constipation or any other symptom, we want relief, however temporary it may be! It’s why people take medication … not to slow or cure the disease, to get relief from the symptoms.
I feel very blessed in that trembling is not a big issue for me. My biggest challenges are the impaired use of my left hand and difficulty with balance, but while I’m in the process of recovering I’ve learned how to deal with them [I just lean against things and use my right hand a lot more]!
Here are the things I do to manage and minimize the symptoms I’m experiencing:
- Body Stress Relief [BSR]
- Lay on my back
- Spend time in or near water
- Exercise walking
- Practice Qigong
- Flip a ball or stand on one foot
- Practice muscle memory exercises
- Eliminate sugars, fruit, coffee and alcohol
- Take a calcium/magnesium/zinc supplement
- Use speech recognition software
BSR is a bodywork modality that uses pressure points in various patterns along the spine to relieve muscle tension so that nerve impulses can flow freely. After I started going for BSR treatments the trembling in my arms diminished by about 75% and it has remained this way. There has been no increase in the trembling I experience and it has not spread to other parts of my body.
Sleeping: I noticed a few years ago that when I woke up in the morning I was not experiencing any trembling. According to Robert Rodgers, author of Road to Recovery from Parkinson’s Disease, this happens because during times of rest the body and brain shut down the fight or flight response, which in turn shuts down production of the stressor hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This allows the brain to produce the calming hormones and neurotransmitters, like adrenaline, serotonin and melotonin.
Laying on my back: when I lay on my back there is little or no trembling. I suspect this is the case for two reasons. First, laying on my back takes the pressure off my spine allowing nerve impulses to flow more freely. Second, similar to sleeping, I suspect that lying on my back is a signal to my brain to shut down the fight or flight response, thereby eliminating stress and the stressor hormones, allowing my body to produce calming hormones and neurotransmitters.
Spending time near water: when I’m in, on or near water I experience almost no trembling. I suspect this is happening for the same reasons that I experience relief when I’m sleeping or lying on my back. In other words, I’m in a calm state of mind, so the body shuts down the fight or flight response, allowing my brain to produce more dopamine.
Exercise walking: when I go for my morning walk, I bounce a ball, twirl a karate bostaff or do some other activity. When I do this, three symptoms that I typically experience go away. This includes clenching in my left hand, loss of control in my left leg and shuffle walking.
Practice Qigong: when I practice Qigong I experience virtually no symptoms of any kind.
Flip a ball or stand on one foot: when I attempt to stand in one place, it doesn’t take long before I lose my balance. But if I flip a ball back and forth between my left hand and my right hand or stand on one foot, my balance is fine. I have no idea why this is the case, but it works. It also works if I simply swing my arms back and forth.
Practice muscle memory exercises: when I do certain exercises that are intended to teach or remind the body to move normally, I experience no symptoms. This includes exercises such as doing karate exercises, bouncing a ball off a wall and retrieving it, taking two steps at a time when I’m going up the stairs, throwing my arms up in the air as fast as I can and doing knee raises. Again, I don’t quite understand the physiology of it, but it works.
Eliminate sugars, fruit, coffee and alcohol: all of these things exacerbate my symptoms, so I have eliminated them from my diet.
Take a calcium/magnesium/zinc supplement: doing this keeps my bowel movements regular, thus eliminating constipation.
Speech recognition software: using SRS helps me get around the issue of the loss of use of my left hand, although I have to admit, that using SRS can sometimes be a frustrating experience.
Because I made the choice not to take medications, I’ve had to get creative in finding ways to minimize the symptoms I experience. It has been an awesome learning experience and it has given me enormous piece of mind, as well as the confidence that I can recover my health.