Originally published February 7 2008
Antioxidants Important for Optimizing Health and Preventing Parkinson's
by Russell Johnston
(NaturalNews) Research scientists at the Buck Institute have discovered that mice with less of the natural antioxidant glutathione, particularly in their dopamine-producing neurons, become crippled by nerve damage. In fact, the mice developed symptoms that match up very well with Parkinson's disease in human beings. In order to perform the experiment, scientists first created mice that could be triggered chemically to greatly reduce the amount of glutathione in their dopamine-creating neurons, which then resulted in the Parkinson-like symptoms.
This new discovery might call into question the current pharmaceutical approach to Parkinson's Disease; which doses patients with dopamine equivalents, or with drugs that boost dopamine's effect (as a former prescription drug, Methamphetamine, or "Crystal Meth" does). Unfortunately, these Parkinson's drugs also have been found to cause many of the effects that are also seen with Methamphetamine, such as gambling and other impulse-control problems. Now it seems that the underlying problem may not really be dopamine.
Antioxidants keep our cells clean by combining with and eliminating very dangerous reactive molecules that can cause random changes in proteins, resulting in cancer, heart disease or other chronic illnesses. Those random changes are often referred to as "oxidative stress" and cause inflammation as well. This new research shows that natural antioxidants are important in maintaining nerve cell function, too.
The good news is that you can boost your levels of natural antioxidants rather easily without prescription drugs in several ways. So if this new research holds up, by boosting your natural levels of antioxidants, you may be protecting yourself against Parkinson's Disease as well as cancer, infection, and much more.
Glutathione is probably the second most important antioxidant that our bodies make - melatonin is the most important, and by far the least costly to make use of, energetically. Vitamin C would come in third. Consistent sleep in true darkness is the best prescription to boost your melatonin; but of course, supplements of melatonin are also widely sold. Doses much less than the standard 3mg are now recommended however, since too much melatonin can slop over into daytime and confuse your clock and immune system. As well, it has been suggested that taking melatonin supplements may cause a decline in your own natural production of this critical antioxidant and night-time hormone.
A relatively new and easy approach to increasing melatonin production naturally, based on recent chronobiological research is to wear orange-tinted glasses (low blue light eyewear) for an hour or two in the morning and at night. By cutting out exposure to blue light, our bodies think it's night, and begin to produce melatonin. Since about ten hours of darkness (or low blue light) in which to produce melatonin are ideal, blocking blue light means more of the critical antioxidant melatonin, for better health. Experiments by researchers at the Lighting Innovations Institute of John Carroll University have shown this approach to be effective for fertility, depression, bipolar disorder, and other medical problems.
Many antioxidant food and nutritional supplements, such as lipoic acid, wolfberries (goji berries) and pomegranates have also been shown to have beneficial effects on health, by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
We all have plenty of glutathione in each of our cells, however most of it isn't charged up and ready for use at any given moment - in fact a standard medical measure of "oxidative stress" is whether at least ten percent of the glutathione in our cells is charged up and ready to be used, if needed. Glutathione isn't usually recommended as a nutritional supplement itself because it isn't easily absorbed by the gut. However its "precursor", the amino acid cysteine, is available.
For most of us in the modern world, the likely reason for having insufficient glutathione in the active form is that we aren't getting enough melatonin at night. Better sleep hygiene and more darkness, as well as more regular bedtimes, are a great way to start. Food or supplements rich in natural antioxidants are also valuable - and you can start today.
About the authorRussell Johnston is a private health researcher and writer with a background in the philosophy and history of science. He began DarknessHeals.com in order to help publicize dramatic recent medical research showing the extraordinary importance sleep and chronobiology have for everyone's health.
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