If you've been reading my eTips for a while now, you know that I've lived with a Parkinson's diagnosis for over a dozen years.
And despite all of the research findings I've shared with you during that time, we still don't know exactly what causes this debilitating neurodegenerative disease.
But we do know that in Parkinson's, your brain cells can't produce enough of the vital brain chemical dopamine, leading to the disease's signature tremors and stiffness.
That's why mainstream docs often prescribe drugs called "dopamine agonists," which stimulate your brain's production of dopamine, to help improve the symptoms.
But according to a new study, if you take one of these drugs to control Parkinson's, you may be trading one major problem for another.
That's because you can go from not being able to control your movements... to not being able to control your impulses!
In a study published in Neurology, researchers interviewed a group of Parkinson's patients about any "impulse control" issues they had -- including behaviors like compulsive gambling, shopping, and eating.
Most of these folks had no problems with impulse control at the start of the study.
But when the researchers repeated the interviews three years later, they found that over HALF of those who'd taken a dopamine agonist developed an impulse control disorder, compared to just 12 percent of those who'd never taken one of these drugs.
And the longer the participants took the drugs... and the higher the dosages... the more likely they were to wind up behaving impulsively.
That may be because dopamine is a key player in your brain's "reward center."
You see, when you do something you enjoy -- like eat a slice of cake or win a hand of poker -- your brain cells naturally produce dopamine, and this mood-boosting chemical motivates you to continue doing whatever made you feel good.
And if Parkinson's drugs make your dopamine levels surge, it can be tough to stop yourself from eating another slice or playing another hand... opening the door to compulsive behaviors that can do everything from expand your waistline to drain your bank account.
The good news is that when the study followed a subset of folks with impulse control disorders, half of them no longer had issues with compulsive behaviors a year after stopping those dopamine agonists.
But since getting off these drugs can cause everything from panic attacks to pain to dizziness , why even get on them in the first place?
I'm living proof that you can naturally keep your Parkinson's from progressing.
Do everything you can to limit your exposure to toxins from pesticides and the environment... get plenty of vigorous exercise... and eliminate processed foods and inflammatory grains and sugars from your diet.
All of these strategies can help stop Parkinson's in its tracks – no pills to take or life-wrecking habits to shake.