What Medical Science Knows of Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease is a chronic, slowly progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. It was first described by James Parkinson in 1817, and it carries his name. Originally known as "paralysis agitans," it is often referred to by this name in the Cayce readings or indexing. This illness affects 1% of the population over the age of fifty in the U.S. (roughly half a million people), and ranks behind stroke and arthritis as the third most common chronic disease of late adulthood. Parkinson's disease usually begins after the age of forty, with peak incidence in the sixth decade. It has been observed in all countries, all ethnic groups, and all socio-economic classes. In the majority of cases, the exact cause of the illness is not known, but on occasion it can be caused by or worsened by certain drugs (including neuroleptics), toxins (including manganese and MPTP), and postencephalitis (especially in the years from 1920-40, when many of the Cayce readings were given).
Parkinson's disease clinically is characterized by three cardinal features: a resting tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movement (known as bradykinesia). Onset of symptoms is often insidious, and the individual usually cannot specify a beginning of symptoms. Often the person is not initially aware of the extent of the ailment.
A slow "pill-rolling" tremor is the initial complaint in 70% of the cases, and it can be on one side only. However, the rigidity and bradykinesia cause the most functional impairment, affecting walking and other activities of daily living. Other features of the illness arise from this, as well, including problems with swallowing, writing, speaking with normal volume, and loss of facial expression and blinking. Autonomic nervous system problems can include constipation, bladder dysfunction, postural drops in blood pressure, and excessive sweating. A large number of cases will develop depression, and roughly 30% develop a form of dementia.
The most common finding at a cellular level is the loss of certain pigmented cells in various locations of the nervous system. This includes clusters of cells called the substantia nigra, the locus ceruleus, and the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve. With loss of cells, these normally darker areas can visibly pale. As an example, there are normally more than 400,000 cells in the substantia nigra, which can drop with normal aging to around 200,000 by the age of eighty. However, in the case of individuals with Parkinson's disease, this number is always less than 100,000. Many of the remaining cells change in their appearance. There can be depletions of other cells, as well, including in the sympathetic ganglia and several of the lower brainstem ganglia.
Of particular significance, these cellular changes affect the balance of neurotransmitters. Specifically, many of the cells lost are involved in the production of dopamine. Loss of dopamine is believed to cause an imbalance in some other neurotransmitters, as well. The medication most commonly used today for Parkinson's is L-dopa, a precursor of dopamine that can pass through the blood-brain barrier. The body uses this medication to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain.
The Cayce Readings on Parkinson's Disease
Review of the Cayce readings on this illness shows that 42 individuals obtained 77 readings from Edgar Cayce in which their diagnosis was clearly Parkinson's disease. These readings were given from 1923 to 1944. The individuals seeking readings ranged in age from 23 to 73 years of age.
The most common cause of the ailment according to Cayce involved an incoordination within the nervous system. While the pathology was within the nervous system, the initial problems were described as being at a glandular level. The Cayce readings saw the glands as playing the key role in helping the body maintain its health through regeneration. The following are several examples of how these different systems relate in Parkinson's:
(Q) What is the cause of this Parkinson's Palsy, as it is called?
(A) The gland secretions have been disturbed; and thus have brought for the centers in both the reactions and coordinations between the sympathetic and cerebrospinal system the incoordination there. These must be GRADUALLY aided, you see; but soon we should not see the necessity of those things that are only palliatives, for we will be adding that which will be curative for the influences of the body. (754-1)
These have to do primarily with the effect upon the glandular system. But the destructive forces affect more directly the nervous system, owing to the manner in which there is a deflection in the coordination between the cerebrospinal and the sympathetic or vegetative nervous systems in their reaction in the body. (1555-1)
As we find, the conditions here have reached those stages where there is no control of the voluntary nerve flexes from brain to the locomotory centers, except when the body has lost its consciousness. This indicates how and where those activities are disturbing in the body, in the patches of the emunctory circulation that control coordination between sympathetic and cerebrospinal nerve systems. (4085-1)
In a few readings, other possible causes were given. These included mercury poisoning, medication, and "infectious forces."
The most commonly prescribed treatments by Cayce were directed at helping re-establish the coordination between the nervous systems and to stimulate the glands to help with the process of regeneration. The two principal approaches involved massage and use of the Wet Cell appliance. (These appliances can be purchased from several suppliers of Cayce products. Also, see the separate Circulating File on the Wet Cell appliance for more details about its use.)
Massage was recommended in 73% of the cases. Often undervalued because of its simplicity, the Cayce readings described massage as being both directly and reflexively beneficial to both the circulatory and nervous systems. The massage oils most commonly suggested were olive and/or peanut oil. A number of other ingredients were sometimes mixed in, including cedar wood oil, sassafras oil, pine needle oil, witchhazel, and myrrh. The massage was usually to be given along the spine, after a hot bath or sponging. Special attention was to be given through the plexus regions in the neck and the low back.
The Wet Cell appliance was suggested in 64% of the cases. The Wet Cell is essentially a battery consisting of metal poles in a solution of distilled water, copper sulfate, sulfuric acid, zinc, and willow charcoal. This set-up produces a very weak DC current. In most cases, this weak current was passed through a "solution jar," into which another compound was placed. With Parkinson's, as with most chronic conditions involving the nervous system, this was usually gold chloride (to be used in 90% of the cases in which Cayce recommended the Wet Cell). Also suggested were camphor and silver (each 41%), atomidine (9%), and witchhazel (4%). The nickel electrode was usually placed over the "umbilical and lacteal duct plexus," and the copper electrode was placed over one of four centers along the spine. With gold in the solution jar, the copper electrode was usually placed over the 9th dorsal vertebra. With camphor or silver, this electrode was most commonly placed over the 2nd/3rd dorsal center.
While massage and the Wet Cell appliance were by far the most commonly recommended applications, several other treatments were each mentioned in about 12% of the Parkinson's cases dealt with by Cayce. Those treatments included fume baths, atomidine, osteopathy, and the radioactive appliance. [Note: the radioactive appliance produces no toxic radioactivity as the word might imply. It is also available from suppliers of Cayce health products. See the separate Circulating File on the radioactive appliance for details about its construction and use.]
In regards to diet, the most common suggestion was to include foods high in calcium. A Cayce recipe for "beef-juice" was occasionally given to help with general debility. Advice on medications varied from instructions to continue on their present regimen to holding off on starting medications until seeing if the readings' approach was helpful.
When it came to Cayce making a prognosis about these case, there was a wide variation in
predictions on how the individuals receiving these readings would fare. Six of them were advanced enough that the suggestions were principally to help provide some relief. With others, the readings were fairly optimistic for improvement. Several individuals were told to expect significant changes within the first one to three months of treatment.
[NOTE: The above commentary was written by Eric A. Mein, M.D. and is included in the Circulating File for Parkinson's Disease.]