Parkinson’s Disease and the Uric Acid Sweet Spot

Parkinsonís disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimerís, is characterized by a slowness of movement, rigidity, tremor, and stooping posture, all of which worsen over time. Non-movement symptoms such as cognitive impairment and sleep, smell, and mood disturbances occur as the disease spreads to other areas of the brain.

The cause of Parkinsonís is perhaps ďone of the important questions posed by the neurobiology [science] of aging.Ē For example, why is the consumption of dairy products associated with increased risk of Parkinsonís? Perhaps because they contribute to our exposure to pesticides and other neurotoxins like dieldrin, which continues to be found in the autopsied brains of Parkinsonís victims. Even though dieldrin was banned decades ago, it lingers in the environment and we ďcontinue to be exposed to the pesticide through contaminated dairy and meatsÖĒ

The cause of Parkinsonís ďis unlikely to be due to milk compounds such as calcium, vitamin D, total fat, or total protein as these compounds are not associated with [the disease] when derived from other sources.Ē However, it could be lactose, the milk sugar, perhaps accounting for the increased associated risk of death and bone fractures, as well as Parkinsonís. There is, however, a third possibility.

Milk lowers uric acid levels, and uric acid may be protective against Huntingtonís and also slow the decline caused by Parkinsonís. More importantly, it may lower the risk of getting Parkinsonís in the first place. Why? Perhaps because uric acid is an important antioxidant in the brain, something weíve known for more than 30 years. We can demonstrate uric acidís importance directly on human nerve cells in a petri dish. When the pesticide rotenone is added, oxidative stress goes up. Add the pro-oxidant homocysteine, and it goes up even more. But, when uric acid is added, it completely suppresses the oxidative stress caused by the pesticide.

Drinking milk, however, has a uric acid-lowering effect. In the paper making this assertion, a study they cited was ďA cute effect of milk on serum urate concentrations,Ē but that was just a cute typo. The correct title is ďAcute effect of milkÖĒ Indeed, drink cowís milk, and, within hours, uric acid levels drop 10 percent. Drink soymilk, and, within hours, they go up 10 percent. Now, for gout, a painful arthritic disease caused by too much uric acid, the uric acid-lowering effect of dairy is a good thingóbut uric acid is ďa double-edged sword.Ē

If our uric acid levels are too high, we can get gout, but, if theyíre too low, it may increase our risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimerís, Huntingtonís, Parkinsonís, and multiple sclerosis.

Incidence rates of gouty arthritis over five years indicate that if our uric acid is over 10.0 mg/dl, we have a 30 percent chance of suffering an attack of gout within the next 5 years. However, at levels under 7.0 mg/dl, our risk is less than 1 percent, so it might make sense to have levels as high as possible without going over 7.0 to protect the brain without risking our joints. But having excessive uric acid in the blood puts more than just our joints in jeopardy. Yes, having levels that are too low may increase our risk of MS, Parkinsonís, Alzheimerís, and even cancer, but having levels that are too high may increase our risk of gout, kidney disease, and heart disease.

In fact, having a uric acid level over 7.0 mg/dl isnít only associated with an increased risk of gout, but also an increased risk of dying from all causes. However, having a low uric acid level may also shorten our lifespan by increasing mortality. High uric acid levels are associated with increased risk of death from heart disease, but low uric acid levels are associated with increased risk of fatal stroke. So, keeping uric acid at optimum levels, the sweet spot between 5.0 and 7.0 mg/dl, may protect the brain in more ways than one.

If we measure the uric acid levels in patients with Parkinsonís, they come in around 4.6 mg/dl, which can explain why dairy consumption may increase risk for Parkinsonís since milk pushes down uric acid levels. Dairy intake may also explain the differences in uric acid levels among meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. In the graph in my video, you can see that vegan men have significantly higher uric acid levels at 5.7 mg/dl than vegetarians, presumably because vegans donít drink milk, and those who both eat meat and consume milk fall between the vegans and vegetarians.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you havenít yet, you can subscribe to my free videos†here†and watch my live, year-in-review presentationsó2015:†Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet, and my latest, 2016:†How Not to Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.

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50 comments

Greta L
Greta L2 days ago

TYFS

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Janis K
Janis K4 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Amanda M
Amanda M4 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M4 days ago

noted

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Leo C
Leo Custer4 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Kathy G
Kathy G4 days ago

Thank you

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Kathy G
Kathy G4 days ago

Thank you

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Mike R
Mike R4 days ago

Thanks

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Maureen S
Past Member 4 days ago

I was diagnosed 2 years ago at age 63. Symptoms were tremor in right leg, loss of handwriting ability, and soft voice. I also have difficulty rising from a seated position and have balance issues. I started out taking only Azilect, then Mirapex, and 6 months ago Sinemet. Several months ago I started falling frequently, hence the reason for Sinemet. I tried every shots available but nothing worked. In June 2018, my neurologist and I decided to go with natural treatment and was introduced to Natural Herbal Gardens natural organic Parkinson’s Herbal formula, i had a total decline of symptoms with this treatment, the Tremor, falling frequently, stiffness, body weakness, balance issues, depression and others has subsided. Visit Natural Herbal Gardens official website ww w. naturalherbalgardens. com. This treatment is a breakthrough for all suffering from Parkinson’s, don’t give up Hope. Keep Sharing the Awareness, herbs are truly gift from God.

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Ruth R
Ruth R4 days ago

Very useful info, thanks!

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