Posted 6/6/2012 7:54 AM (GMT -7)
I thought I'd share the following story for your amusement. When I first suspected that I might have PD, I started scouring the 'net for information. I came across an herbal remedy called Mucuna pruriens which has been historically used by people in India to stop the shaking caused by PD, apparently with some success (or so they say). One of its active ingredients is dopamine, so the story seemed plausible. Just what I needed, I naively thought. I could stop the PD in its tracks without the terrible side-effects of drugs. (If you consider the second part of the name you'll see what they're really after. I won't spoil your fun if you don't know the word - just type "prurient" into Google.)
I found the website address of a company that was producing a Mucuna pruriens preparation and I ordered some from them. It arrived after two weeks all the way from Bombay, or Mumbai as we're supposed to call it now. It was a pink powder in a plastic bottle. On the label appeared the words "Mucuna pruriens" and the name of the company that produced or just distributed it. That was all. No list of ingredients, no warnings, no dosage, nothing. In the bottle was also a plastic scoop which measured out about a teaspoonful of the pink powder. The lack of information on the label should have warned me, but ever the optimist I started dosing myself with one scoop of the mysterious powder mixed in a glass of water twice a day. It had a sweet taste, quite pleasant. I sat back and waited for the miracle cure to start. But NOTHING HAPPENED! Until, that is, a week after taking the stuff: one morning about half an hour after my morning dose I started feeling very queasy indeed. I just made it to the bathroom in time: I'd heard about projectile vomiting but had never experienced it myself. What a clean-out!
The Wikipeadia entry says that the herb contains levodopa, but I don't think this is right. I think it just contains dopamine (and goodness knows what else), which can't cross the blood/brain barrier and merely circulates in the system until it finds a dramatic way out as it did in my case.
I flushed the pink powder downthe pan along with my partly digested morning dose. I'd rather shake than experience that again! There's a lesson in this: beware of all and any herbal remedies. They're not controlled by any official body such as the FDA, so we don't know whether they actually contain what they say they contain, or whether they also contain other substances that may be harmful, or indeed whether they might be interacting adversely with our medications. "Natural" doesn't mean harmless, because there are a lot of poisons in nature.