Is Parkinson's an autoimmune disease? 

Is Parkinson's an autoimmune disease and how would you treat it?

A lot of people are now thinking it is. There's an issue with substantia nigra and the production of dopamine in Parkinson's, and Parkinson-like disorders. I have always felt, personally,  that Parkinson's disease is more of a symptom of a bigger, worse underlying disorder. 

However, in mainstream medicine, there is an ICD ten code associated with Parkinson's disease. Once that diagnosis has been reached, the workup usually stops and the treatment starts. 

As a functional medicine doctor, I don't think that Parkinson's just falls out of the sky and hits you on the head one day. I think there's an underlying process, some other chronic disease, probably infectious disease, viral or spirochete, or some other parasite, that causes the body to generate antibodies against your ability to produce dopamine. So to answer the question, very likely. I don't think it's been proven yet, specifically, but very likely Parkinson's, as is maybe some other types of dementias’ as well, and movement disorders, small fiber neuropathies, and things like that are a result of autoimmune.

If you had a patient come to you who had already had a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and they weren't responding to the treatments that they were given, what would you do to try and help that patient? 

If traditional medical therapies fail, then it's probably something more than Parkinson's. My first goal would be to find out what is the underlying root cause. It could be a tick-borne illness, heavy metals, mold toxicity, a leaky gut, or anything that could trigger off autoimmunity, like a viral burden of some sort. If we can identify and address that, then I think we would be in a better state to provide the patient with better treatment options.

Have you managed to help a patient with quite advanced Parkinson's using natural therapies? 

Yes, absolutely. My practice is heavy with Lyme patients. So, I know that Lyme is an etiology for Parkinson's-like syndrome.  I would start my work up by ruling in or ruling out Lyme disease. If we treat the Lyme, the Parkinson-like features can dissipate. Now, not in everyone, those who are far gone, who are in stage four of a disease process, late stage, sometimes there's no going back. There's so much damage that occurs that it's hard to recover. There might be partial recovery, for instance, their tremors may be lessened, or they may be able to get up and walk better, or maybe have better cognitive function. Will they make 100% recovery? Maybe not. 

Some of the folks in my practice come to me late stage. They've given mainstream medicine ten years of their life to try to fix it, as they continue to get worse. By the time they relinquish and fire their mainstream medical doctors and come see me, it's usually too late. We're already behind the eight ball. 
Occasionally, when I get people that come in early stage, then we have a better chance of making a full recovery for them.  It depends on what stage they come in and how long they've been suffering. It makes a big difference.