Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition brought on by inadequate dopamine (essential for the transmission of signals in our nervous systems) and the loss of dopaminergic neurons. People with this disease experience a wide range of symptoms, both motor issues and non-motor problems, making it sometimes difficult to get a clear diagnosis. The symptoms can be treated, but there is no absolute cure as yet, as its root causes are not well understood. There may be a genetic component but it is not hereditary.
However, there is a growing body of evidence that – at least in a significant portion of patients – it is connected to conditions in the gastrointestinal tract’s microbiome, that is, the environment of bacteria and other micro-organisms that share our digestive systems. Imbalances in our microbiomes and perhaps disruptions caused by intensive antibiotic treatment have been found to be associated with the symptoms of a number of diseases, Parkinson’s among them. Research along these lines is leading toward new approaches to treating Parkinson’s, including more effective levodopa treatment. New findings are opening up frontiers for medical research, and new models for a healthy body.