Tag Archives: Parkinson’s disease

Why do I have spasms and what do I do about them?


Why do I have spasms and what do I do about them?back-pain-921


There are many reasons you might have spasms and the hard, painful clenching of contracted muscle can hurt enough to wake you up in pain.  What you do is not the same for everyone


Overuse or overtraining can cause your body to go into spasm, especially if a nerve is involved.  This serves two purposes: it gives you temporary if somewhat distorted support and gets you to stop what you are doing.  Use an analgesic that reduces pain and moves blood like aspirin or Dr. Christopher’s Antispasmodic formula or a Chinese martial arts dit dat jiao trauma formula.


A dit dat jiao is a liniment or topical tincture made up of herbs that increase circulation (including microcirculation of the capillaries), release the muscle layer and relieve pain. If there is a lot of redness and swelling a cooling effect can be added with mint or menthol the first day since this relieves inflammation without the bad effects of ice.


There has been controversy about using ice when a spasm first starts.  Don’t.  In Chinese medicine ice has always been proscribed because it drives the pain in deeper while giving surface relief.  Blood can congeal (clot) deep inside, blocking the circulation necessary to nourish the tissue, so it takes longer to heal the spasm.  Heat both increases circulation and relaxes the spasm.  Western medicine has finally caught up with Chinese medicine, although some trainers and doctors have not yet caught up with the research.


Related to overuse is poor functional posture which over time stresses some muscles and produces weakness in others that ought to work together.  An example of this is “computer neck” where the SCM, trapezius and other neck muscles become rigid because the head is held too far forward.  Yoga, Pilates and MELT classes can work on correcting posture while structural integration can  separate conjoined fascia so that muscles can work independently. While nutrients and herbs can reduce pain it is important to improve the functional posture to eliminate the cause.


Lack of magnesium which is an endemic condition in America can also affect cramping. Dietary magnesium is down 50% in the last 30 years as soil has been depleted by industrial farming and erosion.  Oral magnesium is difficult to absorb and I have been able to reach good testable levels using Jigsaw Sustained Release capsules twice a day plus topical magnesium oil from the ancient Zechstein inland sea.  I also do periodic soaks in Epsom salts or Magnesium Chloride salts.


Lack of iron is also a cause of spasmodic leg shaking but should not be supplemented unless blood tests low.  The Chinese cure would be to eat liver for such Liver Wind conditions.


The widespread use of statins for cholesterol has led to a wholesale depletion in Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10,) the body’s natural antioxidant.  While statins have tested as useful for males who have had heart attacks, the usefulness for anyone else is unclear.  Cholesterol is the body’s natural bandage for inflamed arteries and is the building block of steroid hormones and brain tissue, so there are good reasons to not lower it.  Statin use is known to frequently lead to muscle pain and more rarely rhabdomyolysis, a severe condition which affects the muscles.  The most common signs and symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include:


  • Severe muscle aching throughout the entire body
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dark or cola-colored urine


The higher the dose of statins, the higher the risk of rhabdomyolysis becomes. The risk also increases when taken in combination with certain drugs.


Low B vitamins can also cause spasms. Try methylfolate instead of folic acid and methylcobalamin instead of normal B12, particularly if you know you have the MTHFR gene snip.  (If you don’t know I’d take these forms anyway.) Low doses three times a day are best and take a methylated B complex.


Although it does not seem intuitive, eating gluten can cause muscle and joint pains. Once the inflammatory proteins get past a leaky gut they circulate with the blood all over the body, causing pain


Diseases like Parkinson’s and Essential tremor can cause hard spasms due to the continual shaking.  Work on increasing liposomal glutathione, CoQ10, Vitamin C and Folate as well as a full component of minerals, detoxification and exercise.


Body work is very important. Deep massage, myofascial work, bonesetting tuina or chiropractic can make a great impact on nerve-related or muscle work.


Acupuncture is very good for spasms, on both a local and distal level.  It is not necessary to needle directly into a spasm, but if the spasm is not too hard or sensitive,



local needling can increase circulation into the spasm.  But needling on the opposite side, along the meridian or into special points can signal the brain to release muscles or endorphins.




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How Long Does it Take After a Stem Cell Implant to See Results?

Diseases and conditions where stem cell treatm...
Diseases and conditions where stem cell treatment is promising or emerging. (See Wikipedia:Stem cell#Treatments). Bone marrow transplantation is, as of 2009, the only established use of stem cells. Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How long does it take before I will see the results of the stem cells? The short answer is that it varies considerably, as stem cell proliferation and concentration increases.

One woman in my group was so pleased with the turnaround in her  30 year MS that she came back for more, In her first treatment she had absolutely no improvement for 6 months, when all of a sudden she could raise her leg two feet instead of two inches. She subsequently went from not being able to turn over in bed to being able to drive herself to the gym and work out and she has retained her improvements for several years. But she went through the treatment with another woman with longstanding MS whose improvements mostly happened the first month.

So far my improvements are subtle. My foot spasms which have interfered with exercise are significantly reduced, I am told that I look livelier. My win rate at Solitaire (hand and mind) is up 5 points. And my blood sugar is somewhat reduced.  After three months I will have my blood retested and after 6, my vision evaluated. My stamina is notably improved:

(The first day of hyperbaric treatment in Great Neck I was let out of the bus at the bottom of a steep hill with no center in sight. I phoned and they told me to walk up the hill and turn left. That left me in the LIJ hospital parking lot where I questioned a guard only to find that that I had climbed the wrong hill and needed to walk back down again and climb an even steeper hill. It would be fair to say I couldn’t have done that before.)

You can’t smoke anything:  a single cigarette or joint during the initial month can knock out the new proliferating cells.  And you can’t drink at all for 9 months.  They told us of a COPD client who went on a $15,000 bender,wiping out all of his progress.  We are to eat a whole food diet high in flavanoids.  I have added huperizia and vinoceptine supplements to oxygenate my brain and wear my SomaPulse electromagnetic frequency pulse generator which was designed to proliferate stem cells.

I am still fundraising. I have 40 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen at $200-$250 a pop and they need to be done together, which cuts into my income, I have a Groupon for the first 5, but after that I don’t have the money. This is necessary to cause the stem cells to proliferate.

I am including a link to a tremendous story on stem cells helping a stroke victim, former Redwings hockey player Gordie Howe. This is from a different company, Stemedica Cell Technologies of San Diego, and they injected the cells directly into the spinal fluid which had to take place in Mexico. He got up and walked at once. http://blogs.windsorstar.com/…/howe-makes-phenomenal-recove… Let’s hope this technique gets approved here!

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Getting Through the Blood Brain Barrier

BBB and nose limbic systemPeople have been asking how the stem cells go past the blood brain barrier to get to the substantia nigra where dopamine is made. Stem cells are not supposed to be able to cross the BBB, which is why early stem cell treatment for Parkinson’s was not broadly successful.But it seems that the Blood Brain Barrier is less a barrier than a regulator which can at times be selective in what it lets through.Now it isn’t clear to me whether the stem cells actually go through the BBB or just signal cells on the other side but it does appear to make a significant difference clinically.  I think they do get through based on the research cited below.

 There are three primary sorts of barriers of the BBB, the vascular brain barrier, blood-CSF barrier, and the specialty CNS barriers such as the blood-retinal barrier.  They transport molecules in by pores, the opening of tight junctions and receptors. (1) One can also bypass the BBB by going through the nose or injecting directly into the cerebral spinal fluid. This even works for larger molecules like peptides and other proteins.(1) Injecting insulin through the nose has been helpful for Alzheimer’s for instance. And they injected stem cells into the middle turbinate of my nose as one form of administration. It was weird but topical lidocaine prevented pain.

BBB and junctions
Ways through the Blood Brain Barrier

However researchers also found that mannose IV infusions open pores in the BBB and increase enzyme passage 10 fold (2). In fact mannose infusion has become a standalone therapy as well as a way of getting drugs to the brain.

StemGenex, the center that performed my stem cell administration, started using mannose infusions long before they started using intranasal injection. It increased the success for neurological conditions. Their mannose solution increases the diameter of pores for 20 minutes, so it is immediately followed by injected and IV stem cell administration.

English: The Blood Brain Barrier and Astrocyte...
English: The Blood Brain Barrier and Astrocytes type 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are academically inclined, the following articles give the science behind getting through the BBB. Our understanding of the BBB is growing every day.



And if you would be so kind as to help fund my Parkinson’s stem cell transplant: http://www.gofundme.com/eg4ymk

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The Stem Cell Implant

Karen Rita Alexander and Dr RavdenSo I had the procedure yesterday. In the morning they took blood and did the mini liposection. I was sedated without loss of consciousness. It was laparoscopic with two tiny incisions, filled with saline and epinepherine then fat cells were extracted. They wrapped my abdomen in a stiff binder and took me to the recovery room. After recovery, while the cells were processed, laser and enzyme activated and mixed with Platelet Rich Plasma, they gave me an infusion of mannose to open the blood brain barrier. Apparently they started this practice before having used the intranasal administration and found great improvement in neurological patients.

The cells came back in a mini IV bag of pink liquid and a group of syringes, one for each of the points we had selected and a catheter for the bladder (the only real painful procedure.) I prevailed upon him to stick me at St. 36 for stamina and he was already using Liver 3 for my toe that has been bursting through the cartilage since the Parkinson’s Walk two years ago.

The IV was somewhat curtailed since I have small veins. The nurse decided that I already had a few billion stem cells, so she drew it out of the IV tube into the syringe. I considered self-injection (and ought to have asked for the doctor to inject more into my chronically stiff neck. )

There is more and the staff was interested in how acupuncture can reduce scars and deal with neurological conditions. The medical director said she was told by a Chinese acupuncturist that acupuncture stimulates the activity of stem cells (albeit at a lower concentration.) Silberstein, M. (2009). The cutaneous intrinsic visceral afferent nervous system: A new model for acupuncture analgesia. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 261(4), 637–642. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.09.008


And if you would be so kind as to help fund my Parkinson’s stem cell transplant: http://www.gofundme.com/eg4ymk

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Gut Bacteria, Parkinson’s and Stem Cells

350px-stem_cell_treatments-svgI found two exciting pieces of research this week that will affect my treatment. If you have been following me you will know that I am fascinated with the gut bacteria and the other tiny creatures that account for 90% of our DNA. The gut/brain interface is more fascinating than you might imagine!

The first study from the University of Helsinki found that the gut bacteria- the microbiome- of people with Parkinson’s is different than that of healthy people.  We have more of some bacteria- which increase the worse the symptoms get and others have gone missing, relatively speaking.

The more Enterobacteriaceae we have, the more severe the symptoms. A lack of Prevotellaceae bacteria in Parkinson’s sufferers could mean these bacteria might have a property which protects their healthy hosts from the disease. This seems strange since I generally consider Prevotellaceae to be a sign of inflammation. Or does this discovery merely indicate that intestinal dysfunction is part of the pathology? It might be a result of Parkinson’s disease.

The second piece of research in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology, shows that people with more gut bacteria do better with stem cell transplants. The more diverse the microbiome, the better the stem cells take. This of course gets me questioning the pre-op antibiotics that StemGenex recommends. Next stop is sending them the research!

Now given that a healthy gut should have some 10,000 species according to Martin Blaser’s book Missing Microbes  and a functioning biofilm, taking a probiotic with a maximum of 13 species of lactobacillis and bifidobacteria isn’t going to make it. I do like to take Saccharomyces boulardii which tends to be under-represented and soil based probiotics  for the same reason. And to eat Jerusalem artichokes which help them grow.  So I am onto my fermented food regimen which allows for unnamed wild species: full fat unsweetened yogurt from different animal milks, olives, miso of various sorts, blue cheese, kombucha, fermented veggies, kimchee, pickles, refrigerated sauerkraut and raw milk products.

Here is the summary of the research:

Gut Microbiota and Parkinson’s Disease:  Connection Made


And if you would be so kind as to help fund my Parkinson’s stem cell transplant:  http://www.gofundme.com/eg4ymk




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Watermelon and Papaya for Parkinson’s

Incidentally I have found two new foods that diminish Parkinson’s tremors: watermelon and papaya. I learned about them from a Parkinson’s blogger who calls herself Aunt Bean (after the fava and mucuna beans she grows for PD.) Apparently the late pope used fermented papaya and Aunt Bean has a recipe here. I started out fermenting them. Watermelon was easy: I scooped the pulp into a blender, liquified it and added water kefir grains. It soon turned into a bubbling sour drink. The papaya was harder: I mashed the pulp and fermented it but needed to dry it on fruit leather trays which I don’t have for my dehydrator.

California Papaya grown in Indonesia, cut into...
California Papaya grown in Indonesia, cut into half (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I also read comments that the unfermented food worked and I noticed that raw watermelon and papaya seemed to reduce tremors. Fermentation does reduce sugar and add probiotics but it doesn’t keep very long. So my dehydrator is going, full of papaya slices  (the watermelon is done.)

Now I had no idea why watermelon and papaya work, and they are hardly a cure. But it was tasty and easy to incorporate into a daily diet. I still take the fava beans (note that dopamine medication could interact) but I don’t take them every day any more.

So I went on a search.  In Chinese Medicine watermelon is considered a cold medicinal herb, used to drain heat out of the body through the urine and to replenish fluids. Xi gua (watermelon) is known to clear heat, replenishes fluids, regulate urination and expel jaundice- it is used in hepatitis treatment. While the materia medica says that it goes to the Heart, Bladder and Stomach but not the liver, the attributes or meridians named after organs are not identical with those attributed to organs by Western medicine   The jaundice and hepatitis indications made me think of the liver and I guessed that glutathione production might be affected. And in fact while I still needed to check scholarly sources, Dr. Oz cites watermelon as a rich source of glutathione. And although short-lived and poorly absorbed from pills, glutathione does reduce tremors.

Watermelon provides 28 milligrams of glutathione per 100 gram portion. A perusal of PubMed shows that watermelon extract can mitigate oxidative damage from X-rays or genotoxicity and neurological balance. To use or make glutathione we need water which is in abundance in watermelon. If we are dehydrated we may not make as much glutathione as we could.

Now papaya fruit is not in the Chinese Materia Medica, but I checked PubMed using “Papaya and Glutathione” as search terms.  And, Bingo!  “A glutathione S-transferase inducer from papaya: rapid screening, identification and structure-activity relationship of isothiocyanates.”  Papaya induces glutathione.

Seedless watermelon Purchased Feb. 2005 in Atl...
Seedless watermelon Purchased Feb. 2005 in Atlanta, GA, USA The tag had the following information: mini me (TM) AYACO FARMS PERSONAL SEEDLESS WATERMELON #3421 PRODUCT OF NICARAGUA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Glutathione, a compound containing three amino acids, glutamate, cysteine and glycine, is the body’s master antioxidant and when its production is damaged a variety of things can go wrong including tremors. IV glutathione is given in a push to stop symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease but the IVs are recommended 3-7 times a week, not covered by insurance.  The landmark glutathione Parkinson’s study, Reduced intravenous glutathione in the treatment of early Parkinson’s disease., was done by the Department of Neurology, University of Sassari, Italy in 1996. In this study all patients improved significantly after glutathione therapy with a 42% decline in disability.  Neurologist Dr. Daniel Perlmutter has been giving it to PD patients since 1998. 

Now I would not be so reductionist as to say that it is only glutathione that makes watermelon or papaya work.  Watermelon hydrates which provides the a matrix for the hydronium ions that carry qi through fluids,  It is high in flavanoids Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium, not to mention cirtulline and lycopene, One slice of watermelon (485 g) contains 152 calories, 3 g protein, 34.6 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g fiber, 560 mg potassium, 176 mg vitamin A (RE), 47 mg vitamin C, 8..5 mg choline, 0.1 mg riboflavin, and 0.96 mg niacin.

Papaya contains enzymes that induce glutathione S-transferase. Papaya latex contains at least four cysteine endopeptidases and other constituents including hydrolase inhibitors and lipase.  It has rather high levels of potassium and significant levels of calcium and magnesium. Vitamin C, Vitamin A. A small fruit (157  g) contains 67 calories, 0g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 2.7 g fiber, 286 mg potassium, 1531 IU vitamin A (RE), 86.5 mg vitamin C, 15 mg folate and 0.5 mg niacin. Since the enzymatic effect is important one should avoid irradiated papayas to get the best effect.

There is evidence that a yeast fermented preparation of papaya is more effective than fresh or dried papaya.  It reduces oxidative stress and has been found to protect the brain from oxidative damage in hypertensive rats.  Pope John Paul ll was prescribed an experimental treatment made from a fermented papaya to ease symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, I suspect that the fermentation makes a difference compared to dried or raw papaya.

So incorporating watermelon and fermented papaya is an easy way to reduce symptoms. Other fruits that also have glutathione and are rich in antioxidants are berries, oranges, pomegranate, apricots, prunes,  avocado, grapefruit, strawberries, peaches, cinnamon, asparagus,  legumes, nuts, spinach and bell peppers. Or eat cysteine-rich food including dairy products such as cheese,yogurt and chicken breast since cysteine is used in glutathione synthesis. Add a couple of  Brazil Nuts for selenium (or tuna, beef, walnuts, eggs, cottage cheese, or turkey) and we are set!


See Also:

Experimental Treatment for Parkinson’s

Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease- Part 1


Eating Watermelon for Parkinson’s Symptoms

Papaya and watermelon
Papaya and watermelon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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Experimental Treatment for Parkinson’s

Diseases and conditions where stem cell treatm...
Diseases and conditions where stem cell treatment is promising or emerging. (See Wikipedia:Stem cell#Treatments). Bone marrow transplantation is, as of 2009, the only established use of stem cells. Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease 6 years ago. I am working as an acupuncturist, herbalist and health writer, which all require a steady hand. I have been helping run free clinics since 9-11 and do a lot of public health education on Facebook and my blog Natural Health by Karen and teach as an adjunct professor at NY College for the Health Professions. My private practice specializes in complicated conditions which is rewarding but not lucrative. At best this is a breakeven proposition so my funding for treatment is limited. I have mastered the art of ambidextrous needling and the tremor only happens at rest but the tremor is starting to spread to the other side and it will eventually affect my ability to treat patients.

I have found a promising experimental stem cell trial by StemGenex in La Jolla, California that has a special affinity for Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases. Unlike most stem cell treatment centers they use an intranasal administration to get stem cells to the brain, either traversing or signalling beyond the blood brain barrier.The treatment was pioneered for Alzheimer’s and works for that disease. They do this along with intravenous and direct injections and their internal statistics on Parkinson’s patients are much better than others since getting the stem cells into the brain is difficult. I would like to participate in the trial for this promising procedure.

I have been pre-approved for treatment but insurance will not cover experimental procedures (and trials on procedures are not covered by drug companies!)

The cost of treatment is $15,900 plus air fare of $800 and $1000 for a course of hyperbaric treatment as aftercare.

I will write in detail about the experience, documenting it with video and making medical information available regardless of outcome. This will help others considering stem cell treatment. I will focus on what can be done to enhance the treatment, based on interviews with patients, doctors and my own experiences.

If you know someone with Parkinson’s, would like to advance the medicine, want to help me or just want to do a mitzvah, I would be very grateful. If you know someone else who might help please pass this on.

Thank you for reading this far. I must acknowledge that I am a bit bewildered by this new way of dealing with health care (and hope it doesn’t sound tacky to ask for help,) but I appreciate your interest.

Donations to Paypal at ksvaughan2@aol.com  or Go Fund Me

See also:

Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease- Part 1


Watermelon and Papaya for Parkinson’s

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What Not To Eat With Parkinson’s Disease,Part 2

In Part 1 I discussed what to eat if you have Parkinson’s Disease. PD is only partially genetic and can be induced by exposure to pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals, some of which are found in food.

This is what to avoid: Continue reading What Not To Eat With Parkinson’s Disease,Part 2

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Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease- Part 1

Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease has four components: What to Eat, What Not to Eat, Useful supplements and How to Eat, given symptoms of the disease.  This will be a four piece series.  Some of it is basic: the foods and superfoods that enrich the diet.  Some is specific to the typical complaints from either the disease, the medications and the often restrictive lifestyles that PD patients often adopt.   And the how-to acknowledges that the disease creates some physical problems that adaptive devices might help.

Mucuna in flower, source of L.Dopa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease Part 1:  Continue reading Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease- Part 1

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