Wednesday, March 7, 2012

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR ESSENTIAL TREMOR

What is Essential Tremor?
Essential Tremor (ET) benign condition of the nervous system that causes a rhythmic shaking.  It involves small, rapid movements usually in the hands but can also occur in the head, eyelids, or other muscles.  ET is sometimes confused with Parkinson's.  However, the shaking in those with ET is usually happens during movement whereas the shaking in those with Parkinson's usually occurs when there is no movement (hands on lap or by the side).  The tremor rarely affects the legs or feet. People with ET may have trouble holding or using small objects such as silverware or writing utensils.  Everyone has some tremor but the movements are so small that they are not noticeable.  ET is more common in people older than 65 but can happen at any age.

What Causes Essential Tremor?
Tremors occur when there is a problem with the nerves that supply certain muscles. Some research suggests that the part of the brain that controls muscles movements does not work correctly in patients with ET however the exact cause is not known.

ET can also occur with other brain and nervous system problems such as parkinson's disease and certain nerve conditions passed down through families.  Many times, ET occurs in more than one member of a family.  When multiple family members have ET, it is called a Familial Tremor. This suggests that genes may play a role in its cause.  You only need to get the gene from one parent to develop the tremor. Familial Tremor often starts in early middle age, but may be seen in people who are older or younger.

What are Specific Symptoms of Essential Tremor?
1)  Head nodding
2)  Shaking or quivering sound to the voice if the tremor affects the voice box
3)  Problems with writing, drawing, drinking from a cup, or using tools 
4)  Occur when you move (action-related tremor), and may be less noticeable with rest
5)  May come and go, but often get worse as you age
6)  May get worse with stress, caffeine, and certain medications
7)  May not affect both sides of the body the same way

How is Essential Tremor Diagnosed?
Your doctor can make the diagnosis by performing a physical exam and asking questions about your medical and personal history.  A physical exam will show shaking with movement, usually small movements that are faster than 5 times per second. There are usually no problems with coordination or mental function.

The following tests should also be performed to rule out other reasons for the tremors:
1)  Smoking and smokeless tobacco
2)  Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
3)  Alcohol withdrawal (suddenly stopping alcohol after drinking a lot for a long time)
4)  Too much caffeine
5)  Anxiety disorder
6)  Use of certain medications including all medications that contain caffeine
7)  Blood tests and imaging studies (such as a CT scan of the head, brain MRI, and x-rays) are usually normal.


What Medicines are there for the Treatment of Essential Tremor?

The following pharmaceuticals are commonly used in the treatment of ET.  Like all prescription medication, they come with their own set of problems or side affects.

A)  Propranolol, a beta blocker - side affects of Propranolol may include fatigue, stuffy nose, slow heart beat, and worsening of asthma.
B)  Primidone, a drug used to treat seizures - side affects of Primidone may include drowsiness, problems concentrating, nausea, problems with walking, balance, and problems with coordination.
 
Other medications that may help with tremors include:
C)  Antiseizure drugs such as gabapentin and topiramate
D)  Mild tranquilizers such as alprazolam or clonazepam
E)  Blood pressure drugs called calcium-channel blockers such as flunarizine and nimodipine
F)  Botox injections, given in the hand, have been used to reduce tremors by weakening local muscles.

Can Surgery Help with Essential Tremors?

According to the National Institute of Health, in severe cases, surgery may help.  Focusing high-powered x-rays on a small area of the brain (stereotactic radiosurgery) and implanting a stimulating device in the brain to signal the area that controls movement.  For more information, see the links below.

Are There Any Natural Remedies to Help with Essential Tremors?

Before trying any natural remedies, you should eliminate any factors that may be causing your tremors or causing your tremors to get worse.  Anxiety, stress, caffeine (in some medications), smoking, and alcohol can all cause tremors.  Hormone imbalances and a brain tumor can also cause tremors. Some medications can also cause tremors or cause them to be worse so talk to your doctor and pharmacist. Do NOT change or stop medications on your own.  

Step One: Stress is the number one cause of all diseases. Since ET is a neurological disorder, stress can be the main or contributing factor. If you have chronic stress in your life, all the natural supplements in the world won't get rid of all the tremor until you resolve the stress. If you hate your job, quit or start looking for a new one. The process of looking for a job will reduce stress alone. If you are in a bad relationship, get out. If you don't know what is causing your stress, then meditate and/or practice yoga. Meditation brings clarity to your mind and relaxes the nerves. Once the chronic stress in your life is gone, then move on to the next step. 

Nutritional supplements that calm the nerves are worth trying.  The first recommendation is omega-3s fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids coat the myelin of the nerves. Omega-3s help keep the neurons healthy and reduce inflammation.  Inflammation may cause symptoms to be worse as it does with most conditions in our body. The modern American diet has too much omega-6 compared to omega-3. Take a good quality cod liver or fish oil. If you are vegan, you can take flaxseed oil but it does not work as well as fish oil. 

The second recommendation is to take a balanced B-complex. Be sure to get a good quality balanced B-complex in a whole food form if you can afford it.  A dose of 50mg-100mg is a good place to start.  You can also start with a lower dose such as 25mg but you may not see results as quickly. B vitamins are nerve vitamins. If you are a Vegan (not a good diet for someone with tremors), then take extra B12. B vitamins are found in whole grains, egg yolks, peas, beans, leafy green vegetables, dairy (organic milk and cheeses), and poultry.  B vitamins are NOT found in processed foods.  If you eat mostly processed foods, it's time to change your ways.  Stay away from white flours and white rice like you would poison.

Garden for Life, New Chapter, and Alive sell whole food supplements. If you can afford them then great. Now Foods also has good quality supplements at much lower prices. They also have the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) quality seal. The GMP quality seal means you know the supplement was made in a safe, clean environment and what the label says is in the bottle is actually in the bottle. 

The third recommendation is the mineral magnesium. Magnesium, like many minerals, is low in our diet due to poor soil conditions. Magnesium is so calming that too much of it works as a laxative (like Milk of Magnesia).  Foods high in magnesium include sesame seeds, beans, nuts, and leafy greens.

The fourth recommendation is the herb Valerian.  Valerian is an herb that calms the nerves and helps you sleep.  It is the herb from which the drug Valium is derived.  The difference between the two, however, is potency.  In the Valerian or natural form, it has a milder affect on the body.  Valerian is best taken before bed to help you relax and sleep better.  

The fifth and sixth recommendations are the herbs Skullcap and Passion Flower. These are also calming like Valerian but can cause dizziness. Therefore, these herbs are not recommended for those prone to dizziness but may be worth a try for those with no prior history.  Starting a lower dose is recommended.

None of these remedies should interact with each other.  However, before taking any herb or supplement, you should talk to your health care provider especially if you are on prescription meds because some herbs may interact with them (usually make them more or less effective). 
 
You can buy these supplements and others through Amazon by clicking on HFC Store at the top of the page, then Health Fitness Cafe Store, and then on the link called Essential Tremor to the left of the page.  You can also click on Essential Tremor Supplements at the bottom of this page.  All the work is done for you.  We have chosen the best quality supplements at reasonable prices that Amazon has to offer.  We have also included other supplements not discussed here that may be helpful. Just read the description under each product for more information. You will also find some great calming herbal teas.  The herb teas will have the the same herbs at a much lower strength than the bottled herbs.  We do not receive any money from these companies.  Only a very small percent comes from Amazon.  You will pay the same price here as you would going directly to Amazon.com.  So if you do decide to purchase, please support us by doing so through our store so that we can continue to bring important news on essential tremor and other health related topics.  

Suggestions for Making Daily Activities Easier

1)  Buy clothes with Velcro fasteners or button hooks
2)  Cook and eat with utensils that have a large handle
3)  Use straws to drink
4)  Wear slip-on shoes and use shoehorns

Disclaimer:  This blog is for educational purposes only.  Any changes in diet, movement, medications, or nutritional supplements should be approved by your primary care physician.

For more information on ET, see the following sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001768/
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/essential-tremor/DS00367


Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8 comments:

  1. Great post. Thanks.
    Any info or thoughts on ketogenic diets with movement disorders?
    Pubmed has a few studies that show promise but they are small studies.

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    1. Thanks. There has been some research using the ketogenic diet especially as it relates to Alzheimer's. It is definitely worth a try for those with essential tremor and other movement disorders. I will do some more research. Thanks for your comment. Donna

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  2. It's good to know that the treatment for essential tremor is developing. Taking up medications like Tremadone can greatly help in decreasing the movement. Choice Public can be considered on this matter.

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  3. There are some essential oils that are supposed to help like nutmeg & narcissus. Although, it gets kind of expensive.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. I will look into it. I am still doing research and will be updating this post. Donna

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  4. Been dealing with this all my life. I get a lot of criticism about it. But, I just tell people I can still thread a needle much of the time. Until I came here I never new there was help for this sort of nerological problem. Over time I've just learned to deal with it. I've had these "tremors" since I was a child. I'm now 36. Its tough sometimes.

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    Replies
    1. I*'m not sure why anyone would criticize you. This is not something you can help. I hope some of my suggestions help you. Good luck.

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  5. Thank you for perfect explains that you offering.I hop that that you succeed in life yours.
    I learned so much about this disease and remedy ways.
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete