The number of pharmaceuticals now prescribed for mental conditions is staggering. And many can yield dangerous side effects. Consider drug-induced Parkinson’s disease – which currently accounts for about 7 percent of all Parkinson’s cases.
What drugs can cause Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder related to reduction of dopamine supply. This significantly affects the nervous system. As a result, Parkinson’s disease symptoms can be caused by any drug that blocks dopamine. These drugs are also called dopamine antagonists.
There are lots of dopamine antagonist drugs. These are prescribed for a host of behavioral or mental disorders: These include schizophrenia and various psychological conditions where behavior issues come into play. These are known asneuroleptic or antipsychotic drugs – as they depress the nervous system. Here is a list of typical asneuroleptics:
There are other antipsychotics that have also been associated with drug-induced Parkinson’s disease. But cases of these are less common. These include Clozaril (clozapine), Repoise (butaperazine), Risperdal (risperidone), Zyprexa (olanzapine), Stemetil (prochlorperazine) and Maxalon (metoclopromide).
Some of these are prescribed for various conditions. For example, Maxalon is often prescribed for digestive issues.
Some calcium channel blocker drugs have also been linked with drug-induced Parkinson’s. These are common heart drugs.
Certainly one of the best ways to avoid drug-induced Parkinson’s disease is to avoid these drugs. Sometimes just stopping the drug will reverse the symptoms after a few months. Other times, the symptoms may continue for years.
Is drug-induced Parkinson’s like regular Parkinson’s disease?
Yes and no. Most of the symptoms are the same. There may be less of a single-side issue with drug-induced Parkinson’s, however. Many Parkinson’s symptoms will affect one side of the body more than the other. Often, drug-induced Parkinson’s will affect both sides of the body equally.
This is not always the case, however. Many drug-induced cases will also affect one side more than the other.
Outside of this, both types of Parkinson’s disease will cause rigidity, shaking (tremor), speech issues, posture problems, slowed movement and others.
Ancient herbal formula treats this form of Parkinson’s
Research from Seoul’s Department of Cardiology and Neurology at Kyung Hee University tested 21 patients with drug-induced Parkinson’s disease.
Of these patients, 12 of the cases were caused by levosulpiride. The other nine patients’ Parkinson’s were caused by other drugs.
Once the patients stopped taking the offending drugs, the researchers gave the patients the Asian herbal formula called Yokukansan in Japanese Kampo medicine. In Chinese medicine it is called Yigansan (or Yi-Gan San). It is also called Ukgansan in Korean herbal medicine. For the purposes of research, Yigansan is primarily used, even by Japanese and Korean scientists.
Whatever it is called, the Yigansan formula completely cured nine of the 12 patients with levosulpiride-related Parkinson’s and four of the nine patients who had Parkinson’s from other drugs. The other cases also showed rapid improvement with the herbal formula.
The researchers concluded:
“Optimal herbal medicine treatments chosen after a careful history and evaluation for risk factors may be helpful in reversing drug-induced Parkinson’s disease.”
What is the Yigansan formula?
This ancient formula has been around for centuries. It’s medical use throughout China, Korea and Japan for many types of mental and behavioral conditions has been significant.
The Yigansan/Yokukansan/Ukgansan formula contains:
4 parts Atractylodes lancea (root)
4 parts Poria mushroom
3 parts Angelica root
2 parts Bupleurum root
1.5 parts Chinese Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis)
3 parts Uncaria herb
3 parts Cnidium root
A powdered mix of these herbs is sometimes given with two to three grams twice or three times a day. Sometimes an extract of the formula is made and these extracts are given in different doses.
Yigansan treats dementia
This ancient formula has been clinically tested a number of times for mental issues. For example, a 2005 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry tested Yigansan on 52 patients with dementia.
The patients were split into two groups. One group was treated with Yigansan while the other group did not receive the herbs. Of this second group, 11 were treated by conventional doctors with tiapride hydrochloride, a neuroleptic (ironically).
The research found that the patients treated with the Yigansan showed significant signs of improvement. Their scores in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) and the Barthel Index were significantly improved. The control group saw no improvements, and six of the 11 patients given the tiapride hydrochloride suffered dizziness and posture impairment to boot.
A 2009 study from Japan tested 106 patients with either Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia (including Lewy bodies type). The patients were split into two groups and each group went through two testing periods of four weeks.
In one group, the testing period began with the Yigansan treatment for four weeks, and then did four weeks with no treatment. The second group were not treated for the first four weeks and then treated with Yigansan for the second four weeks.
The researchers found that during the Yigansan treatment periods there were significant improvements in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory scores of both dementia patient groups. During periods where the groups were not taking the herbal form, la there was no improvement.
However, the researchers also found that the improvements for patients taking the Yigansan continued for at least a month after they stopped taking the herbal formula.
Other mental conditions treated with Yigansan
Research has also found Yigansan to be helpful for other mental conditions. These include personality disorders, schizophrenia, twitches and other behavioral issues.
For example, in one study, 20 patients with borderline personality disorder were treated with Yigansan. After three months of treatment, the researchers found that Yigansan significantly improved the patients’ test scores.
The patients were tested with the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF), Clinical Global Impression Scale (CGI) and the Aggression Questionnaire (AQ). They scored better in all of these tests after being treated with Yigansan.
Specific improvements were seen in areas of anxiety, tension, depressive mood, hostility, suspiciousness, motor retardation and uncooperativeness.
The researchers concluded:
“The present findings suggest that Yigansan might be effective for the treatment of a number of borderline personality disorder symptoms, including low mood, impulsivity, and aggression.”
A 2011 study from Japan’s Shimane University School of Medicine studied 20 people who were diagnosed with visual hallucinations related to macular degeneration. This is also called Charles Bonnet syndrome.
The patients were given an average of 5.8 grams daily of Yigansan for four weeks. At week two and week four they were rested. Their hallucinations significantly decreased.
After Yigansan treatment, scores were significantly improved at both two and four weeks in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory, the hallucination subscale of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, and the Clinical Global Impression test.
None of the patients experienced any serious adverse events.
In another study from the Shimane University School of Medicine, researchers tested 59 patients with schizophrenia. They gave 34 of the patients Yigansan doses of between 2.5 and 7.5 grams a day. Another 25 patients (controls) were not given the herbs.
The researchers found schizophrenia symptoms were reduced at two and four weeks with Yigansan treatment. Scores in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale for Schizophrenia were improved in the Yigansan group but not in the cy ontrol group.
Kinder herbal medicines for developing minds
As I’ve mentioned in other articles, I am particularly disturbed at the massive over-prescribing of psychotropic and psychotic drugs to kids. As we can see with drug-induced Parkinson’s, there are serious dangers to these drugs, especially in children whose neurological systems are still developing.
There are a number of safe herbs that can be used for children with neurological issues. As we can see with the Yigansan formula’s successes, some of these herbs can have profound effects without the side effects.
In the case of Yigansan, we find this ancient formula not only helps mitigate the side effects of antipsychotic drugs that can cause Parkinson’s. The research shows that the herbal formula can also be used to treat psychotic conditions, including dementia, schizophrenia and personality disorders.
Don’t self-medicate, even with herbal medicines. And don’t add herbs while taking medications. Talk to a doctor who is proficient in the use of these herbs before using them.
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Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.