“George A.” (a pseudonym) is a 70-year-old male who first experienced motor dysfunction symptoms nine years ago. He visited the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, a few times but remained undiagnosed and untreated.
When his symptoms persisted and deteriorated, he looked elsewhere for help. He was referred to Eric Braverman, MD, a specialist in complementary medicine and an acknowledged expert on brain-related diseases.
George A. was interviewed while being treated with an IV infusion in Dr. Braverman’s office at PATH Medical in New York City. A brief case review with Dr. Braverman follows the interview.
Life Extension: What were your initial symptoms?
George A.: It started when I was skiing, and my legs wouldn’t go where I wanted them to go. There was a delay, like a weight was on them. It was the strangest feeling, so I went to the Mayo Clinic.
LE: What did they do?
George A.: They had me walk down a hallway and they would say, “Turn . . . turn . . . turn . . . ,” and they watched the way I turned. But they said they didn’t know what it was.
LE: What other tests did they do?
George A.: Blood work, MRI. I saw a urologist, an internist, even a psychiatrist. Nobody found anything.
LE: Did they ever mention Parkinson’s disease?
George A.: No.
LE: What did they tell you when they were finished? Did they give you anything?
George A.: All they said was to exercise, watch my diet, keep my cholesterol down, and I would be fine.
LE: Were you?
George A.: No. My symptoms got worse. So I went back to get some answers. But they didn’t give me any. What finally got me was I started to fall asleep at traffic lights. The beeping horns woke me up. That’s when my wife said, “They’re not doing anything for you.”
LE: What happened next?
George A.: A secretary in another doctor’s office told me about Dr. Braverman, that he specializes in this type of problem. So I called him.
LE: How long ago was that?
George A.: Three years, maybe a little more.
LE: How were your symptoms then?
George A.: They were worse. I was much more tired, my legs got very heavy, and my balance was off. My whole general feeling was not good.
LE: Did you have any tremors?
George A.: No. I never got tremors. But Dr. Braverman knew right away.
LE: What kinds of tests did he do?
George A.: Everything. Blood tests, brain tests, ultrasound.
LE: What did he find?
George A.: He said I had Parkinson’s disease. And his neurologist said the same thing. He found a lot of things wrong with me. But the main thing was the heavy metals. He had me come here two days a week for drips.
George A.: And vitamins. Over time, my tests were better.
LE: What do you take?
George A.: All kinds of things. Sinemet®. Cardura.® Glutathione.
LE: What supplements do you use?
George A.: I just started on 1000 milligrams of CoQ10, which is supposed to help. Glucosamine, selenium, creatine, zinc, multivitamin, methionine, antioxidants, carnitine, milk thistle, fish oil. I take quite a bit.
LE: How long after Dr. Braverman started treating you did you see an improvement?
George A.: Probably three, four months.
LE: Did your fatigue go away?
George A.: The fatigue went away.
LE: And the heavy legs?
George A.: They went away. Sometimes they come back, if I miss a treatment.
LE: And your balance?
George A.: The balance is still . . .
LE: Sometimes it goes?
George A.: I have to be careful on ice.
LE: We have to be careful on ice, too. Do you have any idea how you were exposed to toxins?
George A.: I worked as a plumber with my dad for 10 years. Lead was the water pipe of the world. Everyone had a lead main, and then copper pipes. What I dealt with for many years was asbestos. I used to do boilers. He had it.
LE: Who had what?
George A.: Parkinson’s. My dad had it. But we didn’t know that he had it. He was always falling down.
LE: Why did you go last year to the Motor Control Clinic at the National Institutes of Health?
George A.: Dr. Braverman felt that I had accomplished something. He wanted them to look at me and see if his treatment had made me the way I am now. They had about 12 doctors sitting around, questioning, and they touched my arms and spoke to me. Everybody had a chance to ask me questions, how I sat, how I stood . . . very nice doctors, very knowledgeable. But nobody commits to anything. [Laughs]
LE: You volunteered for that?
George A.: I wanted to find out if what Dr. Braverman was doing could elevate me to another level, which is what happened. As far as I’m concerned, I stopped the progress of the disease. But I have to stay with the regimen I’m on because I’m afraid that if I stop, my legs will get heavy again.
LE: You’re having your IV drip as we talk. What are your feelings about your health issues over the last decade?
George A.: I’m a little disappointed that I got sick. I realize now that it came from my father.
George A.: Positively. Now I know that when he used to shake and fall down, he had Parkinson’s.
LE: How do you feel right now?
George A.: I feel fortunate to have Dr. Braverman. He has something there. When he’s exposed to other doctors, they flock around him like bees to a flower. And I’m fortunate that he takes an interest. I guess he does with everyone. I just feel he takes a special interest in me.
LE: What’s your outlook for the future?
George A.: Hopefully, I can keep the dogs at bay. If I start to slip, I’m sure there are ways for Dr. Braverman to get me back on track. He doesn’t like to use medication, but when he has to, he does.
LE: Are you comfortable if you have to do this [I.V. infusion] for the rest of your life?
George A.: I could live with it.
George A.’s case has many of the classic components of Parkinson’s disease: multiple symptoms, multiple factors (toxins, genetics), slow progression, response to dopamine medication, multiple treatment modalities. The following is a brief case review with Dr. Braverman.
LE: George had Parkinson’s disease?
Braverman: Yes. We have to educate the public that Parkinson’s is a huge cluster of neuropsychiatric problems associated with a loss of motor control of all degrees. From incontinence, to shuffling gait, to droopy face.
LE: What happened at the National Institutes of Health?
Braverman: Parkinson’s is not supposed to be a reversible disease, so they redefined his diagnosis. I’ve seen the same thing with multiple sclerosis. Seven years ago, I told the chairman of one of the major university medical centers that antidepressants, anticonvulsants, GABA agents, and nutrients could slow the multiple sclerosis progression. He hung up the phone on me. Now he’s just published a paper saying that multiple sclerosis can be reversed with antidepressants.
LE: Glutathione seems to play an important role in treating Parkinson’s disease.
Braverman: Yes, along with many other things. The Life Extension approach of using supplements and nutrients works for a lot of illnesses, not just Parkinson’s. Like cognitive decline, for example.
LE: You did a cognitive assessment of George?
Braverman: That’s standard PATH protocol. He had a 15 out of 30 on the Mini-Mental State [MMSE] when we first saw him. He was headed for dementia. We used all the cholinergic meds and supplements to treat that while we addressed his Parkinson’s. He went to 30 out of 30 in one year. His brain age [speed] shows a dramatic improvement. Cognitive degeneration is common in neurodegenerative disease, but often overlooked. George lost what I call the “edge effect”—the connection between his brain and his body.
LE: There is still a lot we don’t know about the cause and treatment of Parkinson’s, right?
Braverman: That’s why we sent George to NIH. We were trying to secure a grant to study alternative approaches to Parkinson’s. We can do all the studies we want, but we have to help real people like George now. We’ve got to use anything and everything that might help. We did that with him. Restored his edge.