Anxiety, Diet and Parkinson’s Disease

The Reality of Anxiety in Parkinson’s Disease

Anxiety is a common complaint in Parkinson’s disease (PD).  Sometimes it is even present several years before motor symptoms appear or a diagnosis of PD can be made.  It is also a common complaint of older people, and it has been suggested that anxiety may even be a risk factor for development of PD. Anxiety symptoms in people with PD tend to be more severe than in age matched people without PD.   In comparing results of several studies, it appears that about half of the people with PD will have anxiety sufficiently troublesome to cause clinical concern.

In people with Parkinson’s disease, symptoms of anxiety may be difficult to discern from symptoms of PD.  Sleep disturbance, restlessness, increased tremor and motor problems may be part of Parkinson’s disease, but with anxiety, they are considerably worsened.  Anxiety in Parkinson’s disease can lead to social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorders or even panic disorders. Anxiety affects the quality of life of people with PD. It affects their relationships with other people, their over-all sense of well-being and lowers substantially their emotional sense of well being. This, in turn, can affect their activities of daily living, their interactions with loved ones and lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Cognitive function is also affected by excessive worry, and anxiety is often a predictor of future cognitive decline. Depression is another factor that is common between older people and people with PD. In people with PD, there is a much stronger correlation between depression and anxiety and this can make treating the motor symptoms more difficult. People with Parkinson’s disease may be reluctant to discuss these symptoms with their physicians, not wishing to discuss their worries and if they do, hurried physicians may see them as minor problems in their overall treatment.

Given the dopaminergic changes in the brain, the responses of serotonin and norepinephrine to those changes may drive the effects of anxiety and depression in people with Parkinson’s disease.  There may even be a genetic predisposition.  Some of the characteristics of anxiety may cause cognitive impairment which may in turn cause more anxiety as tasks such as problem solving in certain situations are anxiety producing in and of themselves.  Parkinson’s drugs have also been suggested as possible causes of anxiety as the relationship between dopamine and anxiety has not been fully investigated.The relationship of anxiety and PD is an important area needing more research.  Because anxiety and motor symptoms are interconnected, that relationship will affect the outcome of treatment.

The Reality of Diet and Parkinson’s Disease

Remember the diet affects anxiety as well.  Many tend to ignore the need for truly good nutrition.   The chemistry of the body needs to be addressed as it is affected by the chemistry in our food.  A lack of the essential vitamins and minerals needed in our diet can complicate anxiety issues. 

What Foods Help With Anxiety?

It is important that everyone get enough Magnesium in their diet but especially those challenged with neuro-degenerative issues.  Magnesium relaxes muscles and nerves.  Magnesium rich foods like: Raw Cocoa 50%, Pumpkin Seeds  47.7%, Spinach  39.1%, Swiss Chard  37.6%, Soybeans  36.9%, Sesame Seeds  31.5%, Halibut  30.3%, Black Beans  30.1%,  Sunflower Seeds  28.4%, Cashews  25%, Almonds  24.6% can be added to the diet to help keep up magnesium levels to assist in minimizing anxiety.

 Special Note on Raw Cacao and Parkinson’s

What is Cacao? Cacao is the seed of a fruit of an Amazonian tree that was brought to Central America during or before the time of the Olmecs. Cacao beans were so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that they used them as money! Cacao beans contain no sugar and between 12% and 50% fat depending on variety and growth conditions. Nature’s First Law cacao beans are around 40% fat content (low compared to other nuts). There is no evidence to implicate cacao bean consumption with obesity.The raw cacao bean is one of nature’s most fantastic superfoods due to its wide array of unique properties, many of which are destroyed or corrupted by cooking.

Five Reasons For Eating Raw Cacao

Contains Nearly Half of Your Daily Magnesium

Cacao is remarkably rich in magnesium. Cacao seems to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food. This is likely the primary reason women crave chocolate during the menstrual period. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and is associated with more happiness. Magnesium is the most deficient major mineral on the Standard American Diet (SAD); over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium! Raw chocolate has a good amount of magnesium, which has many benefits. You need a certain amount of magnesium every day to keep your body functioning properly. Raw chocolate can have anywhere from 100 to 170 milligrams of magnesium per 100 grams of raw chocolate. Men need around 400 milligrams per day, while women need a little over 300 milligrams. This makes it a good source for magnesium, and an easy way to consume the amount you need daily.

Brain Chemistry and Raw Cacao

There is a chemical in chocolate called tryptophan. This is an essential amino acid that the body uses to help produce serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is important neurotransmitter in your brain that is involved in your behavior and moods. It is an important part of the functioning of your body, which is why you need a certain serotonin in your brain. Tryptophan can raise those levels, because it gives a small boost to serotonin production.

Phenylethylamine (PEA) is found in chocolate. PEA is an adrenal-related chemical that is also created within the brain and released when we are in love. This is one of the reasons why love and chocolate have a deep correlation. PEA also plays a role in increasing focus and alertness.

Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical)
A neurotransmitter called anandamide, has been isolated in cacao. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the brain. Anandamide is known as “The Bliss Chemical” because it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies’ ability to breakdown anandamide. This means that natural anandamide and/or cacao anandamide may stick around longer, making us feel good longer, when we eat cacao.

Rich in Heart Healthy Antioxidants

The flavanoids in cacao are what give it the antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help fight heart disease and can lower the risk of some types of cancer. They help protect your body’s cells against the threat of free radicals. Free radicals are harmful to your health and may play a role in long-term diseases such as cancer. If you have a high number of free radicals that are not being taken care of by your body, then they will accumulate and cause serious damage over a long period of time.

MAO Inhibitors: Cacao seems to diminish appetite, probably due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) – these are different from digestive enzyme inhibitors found in most nuts and seeds. These rare MAO inhibitors actually produce favorable results when consumed by allowing more serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MAO inhibitors facilitate youthening and rejuvenation.

Can Open Your Blood Vessels

The chemical compound Theobromine is an alkaloid, and it has a few benefits. One is that it has the effect of a mild stimulant. It is used in medicine as a diuretic and a blood vessel opener. It is used to treat high blood pressure because of these characteristics. The diuretic component gives the chemical use as a cleansing aid, because it causes frequent urination. The levels of the chemical in chocolate will give you an extra boost by opening your blood vessels a little bit.

Has Multiple Vitamins

Cacao is full of vitamins. These vitamins include A, B1, B2, and B3 are only a few found in cacao. Vitamin A can strengthen immunity and help with eyesight. Vitamin B1 can help brain function and cardiovascular health. Vitamin B2 protects against carcinogens and may help to prevent migraines. Vitamin B3 can help lower bad cholesterol and protect against heart disease. The combination of these vitamins in cacao can produce multiple helpful benefits for your long-term health.

These five health benefits from eating raw cacao are not to be overlooked. The amount of magnesium is another daily benefit that can help keep you healthy. If you want a reason to eat raw cacao every day, you don’t have to look very far because there are many.

Footnotes and credits

Cacao contains subtle amounts of caffeine and theobromine. However, experiments have shown that these stimulants are far different when consumed raw than cooked.

Consider the following: Experimental provings of chocolate by homeopaths indicate its stimulating effect when cooked. One experiment conducted with a decoction of roasted ground cacao beans in boiling water produced an excitement of the nervous system similar to that caused by black coffee, an excited state of circulation, and an accelerated pulse. interestingly, when the same decoction was made with raw, unroasted beans neither effect was noticeable, leading the provers to conclude that the physiological changes were caused by aromatic substances released during roasting.


If you want to eat cacao for its benefits, the product should be at least 70 percent cacao. But there are products that have a good amount of cacao that do not have as much of a benefit. This is because the process they go through to be produced destroys some of the healthy flavanoids in the process, therefore the reasoning for RAW Cacao.

A recent study showed that only one out of 500 people who thought they were allergic to chocolate actually tested positive. Allergies to chocolate are quite rare. It is typically the case that the person is in fact allergic to milk and dairy products.

Article by Marcia McCall

Vegetarian Answers: Benefits of Raw Cacao

Raw Super Foods:Benefits of Raw Cacao

Chocolate and the brain: Neurobiological impact of cocoa flavanols on cognition and behavior

Alexander N. Sokolova, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author, Marina A. Pavlovab, Sibylle Klosterhalfena, Paul Encka


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