Image Credit: royalconstantinesociety / Flickr. This image has been modified.

Treating Parkinson’s Disease With Diet

Caffeine consumption appears to help prevent Parkinson’s, but what if you already have the condition? A recent study found that giving folks the equivalent of about two cups of coffee a day worth of caffeine significantly improved symptoms of the disease. Of course, there’s only so much you can charge for coffee, so drug companies took caffeine and added a few side groups so they could patent it into new drugs (Preladenant and Istradefylline). These drugs appear to work no better than plain caffeine, which is dramatically cheaper and probably safer. You can see more of the risks and benefits of coffee and caffeine in Coffee and Cancer and What About the Caffeine?

Similarly, certain plants, such as berries, and plant-based diets in general may help prevent Parkinson’s. See my last post Avoiding Dairy to Prevent Parkinson’s. This may be partially because of pollutants that magnify up the food chain into the meat and dairy supply, but it could also be from the protective phytonutrients in healthy plant foods. For example, as you can see in my 3-min video Treating Parkinson’s Disease With Diet, I profile a case report in which a dietician struck with Parkinson’s was able to successfully clear most of her symptoms with a plant-based diet rich in strawberries, whole wheat, and brown rice. These are rich sources of two particular phytonutrients, N-hexacosanol and fisetin, but there hadn’t been a formal interventional trial published, until now.

At its root, Parkinson’s is a dopamine deficiency disease due to a die-off of dopamine-generating cells in the brain. These cells make dopamine from L-dopa derived from an amino acid in our diet. Just like we saw with the serotonin story I described in my three-part series The Wrong Way to Boost SerotoninA Better Way to Boost Serotonin, and The Best Way to Boost Serotonin, the consumption of animal products blocks the transport of L-dopa into the brain, crowding it out.  With this knowledge, researchers first tried what’s called a “protein redistribution diet.” This is where people could only eat meat for supper so the patients would hopefully be sleeping by the time the negative effects of the animal protein hit.

The researchers didn’t consider cutting out all animal products altogether until it was discovered that fiber consumption naturally boosts L-dopa levels. Thus, a plant-based diet would be expected to raise levodopa bioavailability and bring some advantages in the management of the disease through two mechanisms: reduced animal protein intake and an increased fiber intake. That’s why plant protein is superior, because that’s where fiber is found. So researchers put folks on a strictly vegan diet, saving beans for the end of the day, and indeed found a significant improvement in symptoms.

More on what fiber can do for us in videos such as:

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

36 responses to “Treating Parkinson’s Disease With Diet

Comment Etiquette

On, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

  1. Cool, but why did they “save beans for the end of the day” as you wrote in the last paragraph? Is there anything about eating beans earlier in the day that would prevent boosting l-dopa levels?

      1. What negative effect would a plant based protein have on sleeping? I don’t see how a bean such as black beans would produce the negative effects. Dr. Greger mentions in this blog here that animal based proteins were causing the negative effects.

        1. Well this is specifically about Parkinson’s, protein and sleep. I am assuming the only reason you would limit beans at night has to do with the study about protein. Does anything else make sense?

          1. I watched the video. It makes no mention of negative effects of plant protein (beans). It only mentions animal protein. Therefore, I don’t see why it would matter if someone had beans earlier in the day (they are eating a plant based protein and this is not what was found to cause the problem). And they also mentioned that plant proteins work best and are a significant source of fiber. They’ve seem to have left out any reason why any plant protein would cause the same problems as the animal proteins. In fact, they seem to imply the opposite.

            1. Your question prompted me to do a search. Apparently, PD meds (typically Levadopamine) and protein don’t get along. If a patient takes the meds to soon before or after eating protein, the drug and protein compete to get taken up into the bloodstream; the protein always wins. The patient doesn’t then get what they need from the meds. It doesn’t matter if the protein is animal or plant based. Patients are urged to have their protein meals in the evening. Source article:

    1. Omar: While Dr. Greger doesn’t repeat the sources sited in the blog section of this website, all citations are included underneath each relevant video and each blog links to the videos.

      It can be a bit of work going from a blog to finding what you are looking for, but it is possible. Just look for and expand the section, “Sources Sited” under the relevant video that talks about the study you are interested in.

      Hope that helps.

    1. No, Parkinson’s is not “another form of dementia,” because some Parkinson’s sufferers never get dementia. My mother didn’t.

  2. Fisetin, a flavonol found in strawberries and the Japanese wax tree, is becoming a candidate for the most valuable phytochemical (MVP) award. Fairly bioavailable, readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, reduces symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in humans, a neurotrophin that facilitates long-term memory in animal models, anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic in cancer, and lowers methylglyoxal production and protein glycation in diabetic complications. Of particular interest to me, fisetin about as potent as sulforaphane in inducing Nrf2-ARE mediated cytoprotective responses, but does so with switch-like kinetics – in high-throughput screening its the only low-toxicity phytochemical with with this attribute.

    PNAS 103.44 (2006): 16568-16573
    Free radical research 40.10 (2006): 1105-1111.
    Molecular pharmacology 71.6 (2007): 1703-1714.
    Genes & nutrition 4.4 (2009): 297-307.
    PloS one 6.6 (2011): e21226.
    Chemistry & biology 18.6 (2011): 752-765.
    International Journal of Cancer. 130.7 (2012): 1695.
    Carcinogenesis 33.2 (2012): 385-393.
    Journal of Medicinal Food 15.8 (2012): 758-761.

      1. Nicotine has been known to lower risk of Parkinson’s for decades. As lung cancer, alone, is responsible for 7.2 times as many deaths as PD in the U.S., its not really worth considering smoking as a preventative. Perhaps a low-TSNA smokeless tobacco, which lowered PD risk by 78% in this study, might be worthwhile for those with incipient PD.

        Besides caffeine and nicotine, these phytochemicals have have demonstrated protective effects in both neuron tissue culture and animal models of Parkinson’s and neurodegenerative disease:

        • sulforaphane (broccoli, cabbage, kale and other cruciferous vegetables)
        • curcumin (tumeric)
        • epigallocatechin gallate (green tea)
        • resveratrol (grape skins)
        • allicin (garlic)
        • hypericin (St. John’s wort)
        • carnosic acid (rosemary, sage)
        • luteolin (thyme, oregano, rosemary, pepperment, chamomile, olive oil, and others)

        1. Thank you once again Professor! I have learned a lot from your posts about PD, including the surprisingly protective role of higher blood levels of uric acid.

        2. I highly recommend e-cigs and monster rehab black tea caffeine for anyone with PD. My boyfriend has the kind that hits in your early twenties and these really helped him feel better even though it’s still progressing.

            1. I think I will wait for more studies instead of just testing on one brand e-cig. If anyone ever tries them out, they’ll notice there is a huge difference between the cheap ones at Walmart and gas stations that just taste like burning cartridges and bitter liquid, and those that are better quality that don’t have the “burn” taste and organic nicotine. The low quality ones initially made him think he would never be able to use an E-cig.

              If more brands get tested and all show that kind of lead content, he would quit.

              He also switched to organic tea bags since I made that post.

              I thought snus was linked to cancer?

              1. Snus isn’t safe, but it does appear safer than other tobacco products. I’ve seen estimates that place health risks with snus (notablly increased pancreatic cancer risk) at about 8-9% those for continued smoking, and it appears more successful in risk reduction than medical nicotine replacement. Some current brands place considerable emphasis on reducing tobacco specific nitrosamines, which may not be reflected in the historical cohorts.

  3. Fisetin, a flavonol found in strawberries and the Japanese wax tree, is becoming a candidate for the most valuable phytochemical (MVP) award. Fisetin is fairly bioavailable, readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, reduces symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in humans, is a neurotrophin that facilitates long-term memory in animal models, is anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic as well as an angiogenesis inhibitor in cancer, and lowers methylglyoxal production and protein glycation responsible for the accelerated aging of diabetic complications. Fisetin is about as potent as sulforaphane in inducing Nrf2-ARE mediated cytoprotective responses, uniquely among food phytochemicals, but does so with switch-like kinetics in high-throughput screening.

    1. Lol. Parkinson is the opposite eating healthy. Increase your intake of high fructose cornsyrup increases uric acid. Higher your cholesterol and start smoking

  4. My names are Susan Adams from USA am here to testify about this great herbal spell caster called Dr. Aleka that helped me cure my PD (PARKINSON DISEASE) with his herbal medicine. I have been suffering from this PD for the past 4 years with know cure until one day i was doing some research online and i saw a person testifying about Dr. Aleka on how he helped her cured her PD and i was so surprise that this person could cure her own PD because the doctor that was treating told me that they have not found cure yet, so i also took a try in contacting the spell caster, and i explain all my problem to him and he told me that i should not worry that he is going to prepare a herbal medicine for me and after he have prepared it and i make use of the herbal medicine and within 3 days and i was feeling changing in my body and i went to the hospital for a check up and my doctor told me that i have been cured from PD and i was so very happy that i have been cured from this deadly virus, Thanks to Dr. Aleka for helping cure my SHINGLE VIRUS and if you are out there searching for help to cure any virus or disease contact Dr. Aleka on him email address: or Call his mobile number: +1 (334) 472-9748 he is a real and genuine herbal spell caster that can cure all kinds of disease or virus.

  5. Hello…..where can I find a structured diet to follow for PD? I’m so confused….meat or no meat? Grains or not? Are carbs really the enemy in this case?
    Many thanks…!

    Sue in Toronto Canada

  6. My husband was diagnosed of Parkinsons disease 7 years ago, when he was 49. He had a stooped posture, tremors, right arm does not move and also a pulsating feeling in his body. He was placed on Senemet for 8 months and then Siferol was introduced and replaced the Senemet, during this time span he was also diagnosed with dementia. He started having hallucinations, lost touch with reality. Suspecting it was the medication I took him off the Siferol (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started him on PD natural herbal formula we ordered from NEWLIFE HERBAL CLINIC, his symptoms totally declined over a 3 weeks use of the Newlife Parkinsons disease natural herbal formula. He is now almost 57 and doing very well, the disease is totally reversed! (Visit their website www . newlifeherbalclinic . com)

  7. To the right of the article is a list of Dr Gregor’s speaking engagements. I would like to suggest that without needing to click on the links that they indicate where the speaking engagements are. Some of course do but not all.

  8. Logan Caleb
    I am a 66-years-old man. My Parkinson’s disease appeared at the age of 37. My symptoms, at the beginning, were fine tremors and rigidity with joint stiffness. I was taking entacapone with levodopa, carbidopa, and pramipexole. My Parkinson’s disease is mostly under control but not cured,After using Parkinson’s disease herbal formula my daughter purchased online from Good Health Herbs Home,my parkinson’s diseases disappeared,Am living Parkinson’s disease free for 6 months now,no more tremors and rigidity with joint stiffness,all thanks to Good Health Herbs Home.For more detail,visit their website wwwgoodhealthherbshome .com

  9. My wife was diagnosed of Parkinsons Disease at age 59. She had severe calf pain, muscle pain, tremors, slurred speech, frequent falls, loss of balance, difficulty in getting up from sitting position. She was put on Senemet for 6 months and then Siferol was introduced and replaced the Senemet. During this time span she was also diagnosed with dementia. She started having hallucinations, lost touch with reality.

    This year, our family doctor started her on NewLife Clinic Parkinsons Disease Herbal mixture, 1 month into treatment she improved dramatically. At the end of the full treatment course, the disease is totally under control. No case of dementia, hallucination, weakness, muscle pain or tremors.

    Visit NewLife Clinic website ww w.newlifeherbalclinic .com. She is strong again and able to go about daily activities.


    Diagnosed last June after almost a year of many, many specialists telling me they had no idea what was wrong. My symptoms were all non-motor, insomnia, leg pain that will not go away, and anxiety issues. Had a DAT scan and that was the test that verified PD.

    Started on Requip, had such bad fatigue that I had to quit that and then started on Sinemet, no changes too. My son purchased PD herbal remedy online from Best Health Herbal Centre. My son said (Best Health Herbal Centre) to him that the herbal remedy will reverse my PD under 6 weeks. So after using the PD herbal remedy for 6 weeks, my PD was totally reversed. No more major fatigue, insomnia is better, leg pain disappeared. I can walk 4 miles now without feeling pain.

    I am 64, was diagnosed at 63. I thought i will die with brain fog and fatigue, but Best Health Herbal Centre saved my life.

  11. I was around 58 when my thumb started giving me problems. As time passed i had other symptoms; hand tremors, restless sleep, muscle weakness, cognitive decline, voice spasm, stiff achy right arm and ankle. At 60 i was diagnose of PARKINSONS DISEASE, i was on Carbidopa and Pramipexole for two years, they helped alot but not for long. As the disease progressed my symptoms worsened, with my neurologist guidance i started on natural alternative PARKINSONS DISEASE treatment from R.H.F. (Rich Herbs Foundation), the treatment worked very effectively, my severe symptoms simply vanished, i feel better now than I have ever felt and i can feel my strength again. Visit ww w. richherbsfoundation. c om. My neurologist was very open when looking at alternative medicines and procedures, this alternative parkinson disease treatment is a breakthrough.

  12. I realize this is an old thread but hopefully I can get a response. I’m curious to know what the backstory is for the dietitian who was able to treat her PD symptoms with strawberries, whole wheat and brown rice that Dr Greger mentioned…. How many strawberries, etc did she eat in a day, when did she start noticing results, etc etc. Thanks for any info!

  13. The video you are looking for is this one: A Diet Low in Animal Fat and Rich in N-Hexacosanol and Fisetin Is Effective in Reducing Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease although only the abstract is available without pay and does not spell out the exact diet in this case study other than to say the diet was “ enhanced with a good dietary source of both fisetin and hexacosanol”
    Here are some more comprehensive updated studies involving more subjects and the effect of strawberries and other fruits on Parkinsons Disease. 2017 If you haven’t you may also want to view the associated NutritionFacts video:

    Hope these are helpful.
    Joan/NurseEducator and volunteer for this site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This