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April was Parkinson’s Awareness Month (PAM) across the world.

As I interact with many Parkinson’s groups, I waited, with baited breathe, for news of research money being devoted to confirming the known causes of Parkinson’s, supporting lifestyle strategies shown to reverse the symptoms, discovering new and innovative lifestyle and CAM strategies to reverse the illness process, and education programs aimed at showing both patients and healthcare practitioners how People with Parkinson’s (PwP) can dramatically improve their life and health and, perhaps, become completely well as so many have done.

But I was disappointed. Oh, I received many messages from major Parkinson’s organisations promoting PAM and begging for research money. But all the research plans promoted were aimed at finding new drug targets, or exploring the minutiae of the illness process to develop new drugs, or refining brain surgery strategies.

Each of the emails or letters told me that this particular organisation would find a “cure” soon if we gave them enough money. Not one displayed any interest in PwP who had reversed their symptoms or recovered, and none mentioned the possibility that we don’t need a “cure” if we show people how to prevent chronic illness and recover.

There is wonderful research happening on lifestyle, trauma recovery, food choices, nutritional supplements, exercise regimens, vagal tone and much more, but this is funded by individuals or small groups and so limited in scope. A group from Bastyr University has conducted a limited study on food and supplements, there is private research on the effects of trauma and ways to recover, some quality exercise studies plus my own, in-clinic, open-label studies on hydration, trauma, detox and Bowen.

All this is very valuable, but how much more could we achieve together if mainstream organisations devoted just 10% of the over $ billion they have spent on profit-aimed research to expanding these private efforts and publishing the results.

We KNOW what causes Parkinson’s. We have evidence that a range of food choices, supplements, herbs and lifestyle strategies can reverse the causes of Parkinson’s and help many people live without symptoms. We also know that most recovery strategies are low cost (compared with the true, uninsured cost of western medicine) and rely heavily on individual responsibility and effort rather than compliant, controlled patients.

This seems to be the major hurdle in creating wellness and researching wellness strategies. If we empower patients to become self-reliant and find their independent way to wellness, there is little or no profit for those who have become rich “searching for a cure”.

In my book, “Rethinking Parkinson’s Disease”, I added this appeal in Chapter 35:

“We need:

• to look beyond the selfishness and self-serving paradigm of cause-disease-cure to explore a broader concept of wellness creation becoming more powerful than disease creation and maintenance;

• to embrace all forms of medicine and wellness strategies as part of a cooperative and powerful move towards a healthier and happier society.”

In today’s society, this seems to be a utopian dream but I believe that it is possible if only a few people with influence and stature are prepared to forgo the adulation of profiteers and use their power to create a heritage of robust, self-reliant healthcare.

We need research and that needs money. If every organisation and corporation managing donated research money or profiting from illness was required to deposit research funds in an independently managed repository controlled by a broadly representative board – representing western medicine, CAM, patients, advocates and families, all with equal voice – the research process may be more ponderous but we are more likely to gain appropriate funding for lifestyle research that will yield wellness rather than profit.

Perhaps during next Parkinson’s Awareness Month, I will receive messages telling me how much is available for lifestyle and recovery research, and how many PwP are gaining wellness because of that research.

John Coleman ND, May 2022


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