While traveling back home on a long cross country flight, I got a chance to read a fascinating book, “Suggestible You: The Curious Power of Your Brain to Deceive, Transform and Heal” by Erik Vance. The first few chapters are all about the placebo effect, and how some conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease, are particularly prone to it.
In a nutshell, the placebo effect is the big challenge in phase 3 of a clinical trial for a new drug or treatment. In these so-called double blind studies, there is one group that receives the treatment and another group that receives a fake treatment known as the placebo. The patients, and those evaluating the patients do not know who is receiving the real treatment or the placebo until the end of the study. For a treatment to be deemed effective, the patients who received the treatment need to fare better than the placebo group in a statistically significant way. In other words, the treatment being tested has to prove that it’s better than nothing…a challenge that is surprisingly difficult to meet.
I’m a relative newbie to PD, having been diagnosed 2-1/2 years ago. Since that time, I’ve had the pleasure to meet individuals who have lived with Parkinson’s for 10 to 20 years, and more. The common theme for living well with PD is regular exercise. The sooner that you learn to love to exercise, or at least find an exercise program that you enjoy, the better off you will be.
You need to think of exercise as your most important prescription, something that you need to make time for almost every day. Exercise is more important than any medication. (But medication is often necessary or helpful to maximize your ability to exercise.)
There is an Italian doctor, Antonio Costanini, who treats Parkinson’s patients with high doses of Vitamin B1 (Thiamin). He first published a report about his results in 2013: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3762356/
There are interesting Before/After Patient videos (in Italian, but some have subtitles)…a few are embedded below, more are available at: