There are a wide variety of nutritional supplements which are marketed to patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Unfortunately, the production of nutritional supplements is not regulated by the FDA. Side effects may occur and drug interactions are not uncommon. Many supplements have been studied in a careful and scientific manner to determine if they are effective. Until recently, coenzyme Q, creatine, vitamin E, and vitamin C were thought to potentially be helpful, but unfortunately, they were all shown to be ineffective. Vitamin C and vitamin E are both antioxidants and it has been thought that oxidative stress promotes dopamine cell death. Coenzyme Q is a supplement which boosts mitochondrial function or energy production within cells. Creatine is also a bioenergetic compound which increases energy production in cells. Scientists have speculated that boosting energy production of dopamine cells may allow them to resist the degenerative process in PD and live longer thus slowing PD progression.
There is currently an ongoing study of inosine to determine whether or not this supplement might slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Inosine is metabolized into uric acid and higher levels of uric acid have been associated with slower progression of Parkinson’s disease. Inosine supplementation may have adverse effects including significantly increasing the risk of kidney stones and gout. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that inosine may be given safely with careful medical monitoring to reduce the risk of serious side effects and may be shown to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. We recommend that you speak with your doctor before starting any supplements.