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Controlling Parkinson's Disease with Supplements
Part 2: How the Cochran Regimen Works
By Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.
Last month, in Part 1 of this series, I departed from the customary format of this column. Instead of interviewing a guest as I normally do usually a scientist who is on the cutting edge of some nutritional breakthrough -- I wrote an essay about the, ravages of Parkinson's disease (PD). I have seen this disease up close. My mother had it, and before she passed away, it wreaked the quality of her life. When 1 think about PD, it is as if 1 were looking through an emotional prism flashing both sadness and anger.
But now there is another emotion mixed in with these-- hope. As I noted in the December column, Tim Cochran, a therapeutic biochemist and director of the Cochran Medical Foundation, has come up with a regimen that includes some 75 nutrients, and he is getting remarkable results in easing the symptoms of PD.
Cochran's patented program is the focus of this second installment in the series. Tim tells us how he created the regimen, identifies some of its featured nutrients and discusses the long, often frustrating and still ongoing struggle to have it accepted by medical personnel. He also explains how the program works and offers exciting news about the progress being made by many of his patients.
Next month, we will turn the spotlight on the patients themselves, allowing them to tell in their own words what the Cochran Regimen has done for them. Initially, we had planned to make these patient interviews part of this month's presentation, but there is so much to include that the column's length became unwieldy, and we decided to add one more segment.
Passwater: Tim, let's get right to the point. How are your patients doing on the Cochran Regimen?
Cochran: As a group they are doing magnificently. Some have the disease in apparent remission even to the point of stopping the onset of occasional tremors simply by taking additional amounts of certain nutrients. However, there are several subsets of PD that are more resistant. And, some patients have had PD so long that it lakes longer to repair the damage.
Approximately 75% of the PD patients have excellent to moderate improvement. Within the first 24 to 72 hours, these patients experience diminution of stiffness, and significant increases in energy, strength and endurance. Normally, the absence of all stiffness, or at least major reduction in stiffness, is experienced within two to six weeks. Their walking returns to normal seven to 20 days; they stop without dragging their feet. Their voices return to normal, and their ability to think and converse normally is noticeable within seven to 14 days. Mental acuity, as well as their outlook on life and their mood greatly improve in a very short time. Depression and sleep medication can be reduced and then eliminated, usually within the first seven to 21 days. Thyroid and hypertension medication usually can be reduced and then stopped within 14 to 30 days.
These patients can reduce their PD medication and obtain relief from the attendant side effects, by about 30% to 70%, over the course of several months. Patients with moderate PD who normally require Sinemet every two to three hours notice that the period between the times they need medication begins to increase to every four to eight hours. Some patients may even be able to be weaned of medication completely.
Tremors normally are not affected until somewhere between the ninth and 15th weeks of treatment, although some patients in the early stages of PD have their tremors stop promptly, possibly within 48 hours. This cessation begins in a stop-and-go cycle, with the times between tremors and the need for medication progressively lengthening.
Approximately 15% have a lesser degree of improvement, and about 10% show little or no improvement during the time they are on the regimen. Perhaps, in these 10% of patients, an unsuspected impediment is preventing the biochemical
from being utilized. Possibly, if this group were to go on a longer trial, the damage eventually could be repaired and improvement start to be noticed. It is important to note that nearly all patients show some improvement in general health regardless of their degree of PD improvement, and there are no adverse effects. There also are some patients who are not suited for the regimen, such as those having liver or kidney dysfunction.
Passwater: These results are remarkable, yet there are people who are suffering and won't try these safe and effective nutritional supplements simply because their doctors are skeptical.
Cochran: Yes, and that is puzzling to me. 1 administer my protocol while working closely with both, the patient's physician and the patient him or herself. We try to tailor the regimen specifically for each individual. While there are physicians who regularly refer their patients to me, many people learn of the success of my regimen directly from other patients and from your articles in Whole Foods. Frankly, I am puzzled when patients tell
me that they have recommended the program to other PD patients and then hear nothing. I always invite people to have their doctor contact me to receive the facts and results of my protocol, but either the patient or the doctor ignores the obvious success.
One example that comes quickly to mind involves a famous personality. One of my patients contacted this personality through a common friend. He sent a private note detailing his success in overcoming PD with my protocol. Nevertheless, there was no follow-up from the star or his doctor. Yet this personality is on record as willing to try any experimental procedure including deep brain surgery or inserting stem cells via surgery.
Passwater: I see. Nutrients are viewed as "risky," whereas "newish" surgical procedures are considered experimental and worth trying-because they are performed by surgeons. God bless surgeons for all of the amazing life-saving procedures that they have developed, but it has always amazed me that surgeons can do any procedure they want without FDA approval or clearance, while nutritionists can't even discuss how a nutrient improves a clinical condition without fear of arrest. Surgeons don't have to have clinical trials involving hundreds of people before they can tell their patients that the surgery will help. But even when there is a gold-standard, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involving over 1,000 people-such as the Clark clinical trial showing that selenium reduces cancer risk (journal of the American Medical Association-1996)-nutritionists can=t legally claim selenium supplements reduce the risk of some cancers.
I can tell you about one reader--a health scientist -- who sent Pope John Paul 11 copies of the last interview in which you and I participated. He also sent some other background information, along with a recommendation that the pontiffs physicians contact you. The reader suggested that he could send additional information, including inspiring videotapes of patients before, during and after the Cochran regimen. The reader received the following letter from the Vatican:
AIn reply to (the information sent about the Cochran Medical Foundation's success). please know that the Holy Father has much confidence in His doctor, who is well informed of the latest devlopments, the medical staff and freely continues to follow their expert advice. We appreciate your deep concern for the wellbeing of His holiness and thank you for all the information contained in your letter and other materials sent.
"Invoking God's blessings upon you and the Foundation as you endeavor to discover new ways to cure sickness and alleviate pain."
What I want to ask now is, "Did the Vatican or its medical staff ever contact you?"
Cochran: No, but I would have been glad to help.
Passwater: I am sure that Pope John Paul's physician is indeed well-versed on any medical problems that may be of concern to His Holiness, but the mystery to me is that if the Vatican medical staff did not receive all of the information and did not contact you, how informed is "well-informed?" How could they have evaluated the Cochran regimen if they did not have the protocol, the case histories, or the videotapes?
Cochran: I have found that physicians who have examined the evidence generally encourage their PD patients to try it, often with great success.
Passwater: How about the national PD associations? I Have they examined the evidence?
Cochran: One of the national organizations is aware of the success of the protocol. And the people there have been help. They have made suggestions and offered to publish my regimen. In one letter, the foundation coordinator suggested that my work is "valuable" and suggested that it should be published nationally.
Passwater: Sometimes organizations give the impression that they want to keep the status quo and don't really want to cure a given disease , since a cure would end the comfortable jobs of the executives and fund- raisers within the organizations. I am glad this PD organization has an open mind about your successful protocol. So, when are you going to publish your protocol in the group's journal?
Cochran: After completion of a large clinical trial that I am planning.
Passwater: What suggestions were you given by the organization?
Cochran: l was advised to stop speaking of my protocol in biochemical terms and call it complementary medicine instead. The biochemistry terms may be making some people feel as if they are the subjects of experiments. On the other hand, it was suggested, the public knows and accepts complementary medicine. In any event, the people at this organization believe that this is a better description of my regimen. The problem is that I am a therapeutic biochemist and not a medical doctor, so I would be uncomfortable calling the Cochran Regimen "complementary medicine." They also commented that "someday (the Cochran Regimen) may be part of our usual medical treatment, but not yet."
Passwater: OK, let's get to the specifics. You mentioned stopping PD tremors with nutrients and I want to get to this important development. But first, let me ask just what your nutritional strategy is for PD.
Cochran: In PD, the normal neuron tracks and the neurotransmitters are degenerating. These normal tracks are the ones that develop to control limb movement when the fetus is developing in the womb. But there are other less-developed dormant neuron tracks that are running right next to the dominant ones. My approach is to activate the dormant neuron tracks with the appropriate biochemical compounds that only nourish the neuron but instruct the neurons to repair themselves. The language of the cells is biochemical, and this includes nutrients and hormones The Cochran Regimen provides these safe and natural biochemicals that activate the dormant neurons sufficiently to pick up a portion of the load of transmitted information.
A second phase of the regimen is to reactivate the damaged neuron track via neuron sprouting and growing. Neurons can be stimulated to sprout much like roots that spread out. By sprouting and connecting the damaged section of the neuron track ran be bypassed and normal function restored. At last, more and more researchers are that this can be done.
These goals are achieved by removing plaque from brain arteries and increasing the blood flow into the brain capillaries. This helps nourish anti oxygenate brain neurons. The selected nutrients and hormones also increase the metabolic rates inside neurons. The mitochondria increase their energy production via increased efficiency of the Krebs cycle.
It is not a matter of which biochemical are put back into the body, but more important, which biochemicals can properly interface with the cellular membranes and get transported into the neural cells anti which biochemicals can be utilized to repair the cells. The nutrients are building blocks for the repair work, but unless the instructions via chemical messengers also are provided, the cell doesn't have the instructions to use these nutrient building blocks properly. All of the bricks in the world can't build a building unless there are workers with the architect's instructions to put the bricks together in the right way.
The idea is to recreate the biochemical medium of late youth in the neural cells. As the biochemical playing field is returned to the body's original prime state, and the molecular environment changes, the genes, DNA/RNA and associated translation/transcription factors all start to respond to the improved biochemical environment conditions. They return to doing what they were programmed to do,
At the same time, the degeneration of neurons is slowed by it synergistic network of antioxidants as you have taught me.
Passwater: this sounds like a good approach. Your regimen achieves what out friend Dr. Bill Regelson calls Aeustasis.@ According to Regelson, who is professor of internal medicine focusing on gerontology at the Medical College of Virginia, eustasis means that a cell or tissue given both the wherewithal and the opportunity to repair itself, or activate its stem cells, will do so.
The Cochran Regimen involved a specifically blended mixture of more than 70 nutrients, hormones and accessory factors. It is described in U.S. patent biochemical needs of each patient as determined from blood tests and case history and then fine tuned as the patient progresses. Many of the individual components are well known to our readers. However, readers should keep in mind that it is the these nutrients and natural biological damage to the neurons.
Cochran: I developed my regimen before the current hypothesis about the role of oxidative stress in the etiology of PD was advanced. Recently, clinical trials have investigated the role of single antioxidants and medicines to slow the progression of PD.
I examined various biomarkers of PD and was able to clarify which nutrients and other biochemicals could impact on these biomarkers. I believe that I was the first to associate PD with injury to the respiration mechanism in the mitochondria of neural cells. I used coenzyme Q-10 to help overcome this and reduce the rate of deterioration.
I also noticed the reduced levels of glutathione in PD neural cells, and I believe that I am the first to use glutathione and glutathione-building nutrients such as lipoic acid and certain bioflavonoids to restore glutathione levels in the neural cells of PD patients. Lipoic acid also has been shown to induce neuron sprouting under certain conditions and at certain levels.
GABA and taurine are also important. Taurine influences the movement of calcium in the brain. It also is involved in stabilizing the excitability of neural cell membranes and in neurotransmission and neuromodulation. When taurine levels are increased over and above what normally is produced in the liver, two other amino acids, methionine and cysteine, are spared. This allows them to be better used in other biochemical pathways.
At present, there are 75 biochemicals in the regimen. These are provided as a pleasant-tasting powder, and all are involved in complicated biopathways.
Passwater: Tim, this is one of the more exciting developments we have covered in the 15- plus years we have been working on this column. Next month, we will hear directly from patients who are on the Cochran Regimen. As an example, we will chat with Dr. Shirley Lacy, a 67-year-old PD patient who won a football field goal kicking contest just two weeks prior to this writing. Anyone would have to admit that she now has a better quality of life than when she was confined to a wheelchair. WF
© 2001 Whole Foods Magazine and Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.
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