Could Parkinson's Disease be related to chronic infection?

An Ottawa-based neurologist is proposing a new theory that Parkinson’s disease could be related to a decades-long infection leading to immune system malfunction and development of neurological plaques.

According to an article published this week in the Ottawa Citizen, “…the theory suggests that some infections in the gut and the nose might cause the immune system to malfunction, leading to inflammation in the brain and damage of critical nerve cells. He notes that loss of smell and chronic constipation are associated with the disease, which might be linked to the infection theory.”

This theory is consistent with a growing body of research pointing to a correlation between small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and motor fluctuations in Parkinson’s disease.

A study by Fasano et al (2013) demonstrated that “eradication of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth resulted in improvement in motor fluctuations  without affecting the pharmacokinetics of levodopa.”

These findings are confirmed by a 2014 study from Tan et al demonstrating that SIBO “independently predicted worse motor function”  in Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Michael Schlossmacher, the Ottawa neurologist behind the new Parkinson’s disease theory also pointed out that “there has been a growing body of research suggesting that infection plays a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease”.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, more than 10 million people worldwide currently live with with PD, with an overall cost impact to the US of over $25 billion per year.

As Hippocrates famously stated, “All disease begins in the gut”, and these findings point that gut health may be critical in some of North American’s most prominent neurological diseases.

Posted by Dr. Alex Keller, ND

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