Last month, the FDA approved a drug for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Xadago, as it’s called, is to be used in conjunction with the med levodopa for the purpose of giving patients more “on time” — meaning less episodes of symptoms such as stiffness, difficulty walking and tremors.
And yes, Xadago comes with a long list of side effects — some that sound a whole lot like Parkinson’s itself — such as “uncontrolled involuntary movement” and falls (which are said to be “common”). Then there are other likely adverse reactions, such as nausea and insomnia.
Just what a Parkinson’s patient needs, right?
But almost at exactly the same time as Xadago was approved by the FDA, something else came out about how to better manage the disease.
It’s not a drug. And you can do it with help…or not.
Actually, it’s something you can implement basically anywhere at any time!
Newron Pharmaceuticals, which makes Xadago, hopes to turn a pretty penny on the med — over $500 million, according to the press material.
One industry expert said the drug has “trodden a long and broken path.” But as you and I both know, no matter what a drug’s path is, it almost always leads right out the FDA’s door with a big APPROVED stamp on it!
Actually, Newron had been trying to get Xadago on the market for a long time. It was even rejected by the FDA as recently as last year (and you know how infrequently that happens!). But no matter — it’s cleared for takeoff now, whether it really helps or not.
But while all that bureaucratic busy work was going on to get Xadango into the pharmacy, scientists in Chicago were discovering another way to help those with Parkinson’s. And it won’t cause nausea, insomnia or tremors.
Believe it or not it’s exercise! Exercise of any kind — and you don’t have to spend your day counting steps, either!
Researchers at the Northwestern University and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago found that simply by exercising 150 minutes a week — which boils down to a “dose” of a little over 20 minutes a day — Parkinson’s patients saw significantly less decline in mobility and all the other symptoms that go along with this progressive disease.
And that symptom slowdown wasn’t just determined by monitoring the patients for a few weeks or months, but was measured over the course of two years in over 3,000 Parkinson’s patients around the world!
The best surprise, said the researchers, was that the biggest benefits were found in patients with the most advanced form of the disease. On top of that, those who weren’t exercising at all when the study started did just as well as those who made it a practice to exercise regularly.
Now, I wouldn’t blame anyone suffering from this devastating disease if exercise — of any kind — was the last thing they felt like doing. But this new study isn’t the first to find that for these patients, small amounts of activity can yield some amazing benefits.
In fact, a program called Rock Steady Boxing — yes, boxing! — has proven so helpful to those with the disease that 360 “training camps” have opened up. Currently, there are over 18,000 people participating in the program, which is held in medical centers, gyms and YMCAs all over the country.
The goal is to “fight back against Parkinson’s” with exercise, friendship — and throwing some punches (at bags, not people!).
But you don’t have to be a Rocky Balboa to benefit from an exercise program. As I said, the researchers only specified that a short time each day is all that’s needed to show some major improvements.
So if you enjoy walking, swimming, doing a group exercise program or just strolling with your dog or your better half — whatever you feel comfortable with will make a big difference, as long as you stick with it.
And that sounds a whole lot better than risking the side effects — both known and unknown — of Big Pharma’s latest offering.
“Exercising 2.5 hours per week associated with slower declines in Parkinson’s disease patients” IOS Press, March 23, 2017, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com