Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Fava Beans (Faba or Broad Beans)

4.3/5 - (88 votes)

Fava bean sprouts and soy nuts are put to the test for Parkinson’s disease as natural sources of L-dopa.

Discuss
Republish

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease has been associated with exposure to pesticides, consumption of dairy products, a history of melanoma, and traumatic brain injury.” Why is the risk of Parkinson’s disease increased among individuals with high milk and dairy consumption? It could be the animal fat, or maybe the animal protein. So, why not use a plant-food diet for the risk and management of Parkinson’s disease? There are phytochemicals that may target the underlying cause, but in terms of treatment, ancient sacred texts from thousands of years ago refer to “trembling” individuals who were prescribed a plant from the bean family to treat the condition.

In my last video, Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Velvet Beans, I talked about the use of velvet beans. But in 1913, the miracle drug L-dopa was discovered for the first time in faba beans, also known as fava beans or broad beans, as a natural source of L-dopa to consider. The amount varies considerably based on a number of factors, but typically it looks like they have about 10 times less than velvet beans. But that’s okay since you can eat larger quantities, since fava beans are an actual food instead of a powdered supplement. The important thing is that the amount of L-dopa in fava beans is enough to be pharmacologically active in Parkinson’s disease. In fact, there are some reports indicating that Parkinson’s patients might respond better to the beans than to standard L-dopa preparations in pill form. But anecdotal reports that patients may gain benefit from a broad bean-rich diet don’t cut it. What you have to do is put it to the test. 

Parkinson’s patients were fed about one and a third cups of cooked fava beans, and during the next four hours, a substantial clinical improvement was noted. In fact, it was similar to the improvement seen after receiving the standard pharmacological combination of L-dopa plus carbidopa, the decarboxylase inhibitor drug I talked about in the last video that boosts L-dopa levels in the brain. It’s no surprise that there was a similar effect, since they had very similar L-dopa levels in the blood. In fact, half the time you could hardly tell the beans from the drugs. How could there be the same levels if the bean L-dopa lacked the carbidopa booster drug? Because fava beans may not only be a natural source of L-dopa, but a natural source of the carbidopa booster too. So, the consumption of fava beans has the potential to increase the levels of L-dopa and carbidopa in the blood, with a marked improvement in the muscle movement performance of the patients with Parkinson disease, without any side effects.

In fact, they work so well you have to be careful about abruptly stopping them. There’s a condition called neuroleptic malignant-like syndrome, characterized by fever, rigidity, all sorts of neurological problems, muscle breakdown, and altered levels of consciousness, which is usually precipitated by an abrupt withdrawal of the L-dopa drug, caused by an acute dopamine-deficient state. Well, you can see the same thing if you’re treating your Parkinson’s with fava beans, and then all the sudden you stop them. Ten days before hospital admission, this poor guy’s garden ran out of beans, leading to a severe crippling rigidity. This case demonstrates that alternative therapies carry similar risks to traditional agents, because in this case they really are the ultimate traditional agent.

There are some downsides you don’t see with the drug, though. Like fava-induced flatulence. You also have to be careful with fava consumption if you’re on MAO inhibitor drugs, often used as anti-depressants, since there can be drug interactions.

And then there is the risk of a condition known as favism. There is a genetic mutation that occurs in about 1 in 20 people, and at even higher rates in those of African and Mediterranean descent, in which people lack an enzyme that’s necessary to detoxify certain compounds found in fava beans. And without the enzyme, fava bean consumption can cause your red blood cells to rupture. Thankfully, genetic testing for this mutation is widely available and affordable, and so it would seem prudent to screen patients with Parkinson’s for this favism, called G6PD deficiency mutation, prior to putting them on daily fava bean consumption.

If you do want to give fava beans a try, fresh green fava beans have significantly more L-dopa than dried. So much so that dried fava beans may not provide any clinical benefits.

Roasting and boiling removes some or even all of the L-dopa, though other studies have found that about a half cup of cooked favas contain approximately 250 mg. Sprouted favas may have the most, increasing up until day nine, by which time the indigestible flatulence sugars may be eliminated, offering another advantage of fava bean sprouting. But you don’t know if fava bean sprouts help until you put them to the test. 

Researchers fed Parkinson’s patients a salad with about a half cup of freshly chopped fava sprouts and observed substantial clinical improvement.

Other beans, just like regular beans, also naturally have L-dopa, though at lower amounts. Soybeans have a bonus compound that may act as an L-dopa-boosting carbidopa compound. What if you fed people soybeans on top of their regular Parkinson’s meds? Giving people just one and a half spoonful’s worth of roasted soybeans led to a significant improvement over the drugs alone, with significantly fewer involuntary movements hours later.

Until more information is available, Parkinson’s combo drugs like Sinemet should remain the first-line therapy, but adding beans to one’s diet may only help.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease has been associated with exposure to pesticides, consumption of dairy products, a history of melanoma, and traumatic brain injury.” Why is the risk of Parkinson’s disease increased among individuals with high milk and dairy consumption? It could be the animal fat, or maybe the animal protein. So, why not use a plant-food diet for the risk and management of Parkinson’s disease? There are phytochemicals that may target the underlying cause, but in terms of treatment, ancient sacred texts from thousands of years ago refer to “trembling” individuals who were prescribed a plant from the bean family to treat the condition.

In my last video, Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Velvet Beans, I talked about the use of velvet beans. But in 1913, the miracle drug L-dopa was discovered for the first time in faba beans, also known as fava beans or broad beans, as a natural source of L-dopa to consider. The amount varies considerably based on a number of factors, but typically it looks like they have about 10 times less than velvet beans. But that’s okay since you can eat larger quantities, since fava beans are an actual food instead of a powdered supplement. The important thing is that the amount of L-dopa in fava beans is enough to be pharmacologically active in Parkinson’s disease. In fact, there are some reports indicating that Parkinson’s patients might respond better to the beans than to standard L-dopa preparations in pill form. But anecdotal reports that patients may gain benefit from a broad bean-rich diet don’t cut it. What you have to do is put it to the test. 

Parkinson’s patients were fed about one and a third cups of cooked fava beans, and during the next four hours, a substantial clinical improvement was noted. In fact, it was similar to the improvement seen after receiving the standard pharmacological combination of L-dopa plus carbidopa, the decarboxylase inhibitor drug I talked about in the last video that boosts L-dopa levels in the brain. It’s no surprise that there was a similar effect, since they had very similar L-dopa levels in the blood. In fact, half the time you could hardly tell the beans from the drugs. How could there be the same levels if the bean L-dopa lacked the carbidopa booster drug? Because fava beans may not only be a natural source of L-dopa, but a natural source of the carbidopa booster too. So, the consumption of fava beans has the potential to increase the levels of L-dopa and carbidopa in the blood, with a marked improvement in the muscle movement performance of the patients with Parkinson disease, without any side effects.

In fact, they work so well you have to be careful about abruptly stopping them. There’s a condition called neuroleptic malignant-like syndrome, characterized by fever, rigidity, all sorts of neurological problems, muscle breakdown, and altered levels of consciousness, which is usually precipitated by an abrupt withdrawal of the L-dopa drug, caused by an acute dopamine-deficient state. Well, you can see the same thing if you’re treating your Parkinson’s with fava beans, and then all the sudden you stop them. Ten days before hospital admission, this poor guy’s garden ran out of beans, leading to a severe crippling rigidity. This case demonstrates that alternative therapies carry similar risks to traditional agents, because in this case they really are the ultimate traditional agent.

There are some downsides you don’t see with the drug, though. Like fava-induced flatulence. You also have to be careful with fava consumption if you’re on MAO inhibitor drugs, often used as anti-depressants, since there can be drug interactions.

And then there is the risk of a condition known as favism. There is a genetic mutation that occurs in about 1 in 20 people, and at even higher rates in those of African and Mediterranean descent, in which people lack an enzyme that’s necessary to detoxify certain compounds found in fava beans. And without the enzyme, fava bean consumption can cause your red blood cells to rupture. Thankfully, genetic testing for this mutation is widely available and affordable, and so it would seem prudent to screen patients with Parkinson’s for this favism, called G6PD deficiency mutation, prior to putting them on daily fava bean consumption.

If you do want to give fava beans a try, fresh green fava beans have significantly more L-dopa than dried. So much so that dried fava beans may not provide any clinical benefits.

Roasting and boiling removes some or even all of the L-dopa, though other studies have found that about a half cup of cooked favas contain approximately 250 mg. Sprouted favas may have the most, increasing up until day nine, by which time the indigestible flatulence sugars may be eliminated, offering another advantage of fava bean sprouting. But you don’t know if fava bean sprouts help until you put them to the test. 

Researchers fed Parkinson’s patients a salad with about a half cup of freshly chopped fava sprouts and observed substantial clinical improvement.

Other beans, just like regular beans, also naturally have L-dopa, though at lower amounts. Soybeans have a bonus compound that may act as an L-dopa-boosting carbidopa compound. What if you fed people soybeans on top of their regular Parkinson’s meds? Giving people just one and a half spoonful’s worth of roasted soybeans led to a significant improvement over the drugs alone, with significantly fewer involuntary movements hours later.

Until more information is available, Parkinson’s combo drugs like Sinemet should remain the first-line therapy, but adding beans to one’s diet may only help.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Doctor's Note

If you missed the previous video on velvet beans, see Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Velvet Beans (Mucuna pruriens).

Here are some other videos on unusual angles for preventing or treating Parkinson’s disease:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here. Read our important information about translations here.

Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive our Daily Dozen Meal Planning Guide.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This