February 18, 2014
The medicine in our minds (Olly Bootle, 2/18/14, BBC)
In many ways, Paul is just like anyone else with a love of the outdoors.He spends much of his spare time cycling in the hills on the outskirts of Vancouver, where he lives.And every day, he walks his dog through the pine forest that starts where his garden ends.But there's one big difference between Paul and your average outdoorsy type.Whether he's walking or cycling, Paul needs medication to help him do it, because he has Parkinson's Disease.Without his drugs, even walking can be a major struggle.Parkinson's is caused by an inability of the brain to release enough dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects our mood, but is also essential for regulating movement.Luckily for Paul, his medication can give him the dopamine he needs to keep his symptoms under control.Given everything we know about the disease, it's hard to believe that a placebo - a 'dummy pill' with no active ingredients - could do anything to help someone with Parkinson's.And that makes Prof Jon Stoessl's experiments all the more remarkable. He is the director of the Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver.
Posted by Orrin Judd at February 18, 2014 5:23 PM