Ketogenic Diet Dramatically Improves Parkinson’s Disease

Ask any neurologist how Parkinson’s disease is treated, and you’re sure to get a long list of medications. Truth is, none of the medications actually treats the disease. The medications that are used are clearly effective, but only focus on the management of symptoms, not the underlying disease.

It turns out that Parkinson’s disease is characterized by failure of the mitochondria to make energy, and this occurs in a very specific part of the brain. That said, researchers decided way back in 2005 to explore the possibility of improving mitochondrial function by placing patients on the ketogenic diet.

Their results were phenomenal, to say the least. The study only included five individuals and doesn’t appear to have gained much traction in the world of neurology. I’m hoping this changes moving forward.

  • TechnoTriticale

    Was wondering if this was yet-another tripping-over-the-truth moment for consensus medicine, who stumbled upon something important, but also alarming for consensus diet advice – which usually suffices to prevent further inquiry along such heretical lines.

    But, although there is a link for the paper:
    the full text appears to be pay-walled at Neurology.

    Any chance Dr.P could host a copy?

  • quiethinker

    Dr. Wahl…..helped my husband immensely. Could hardly tell he had Parkinson’s and progression very slow.

    • Michael Sakal

      Can you elaborate on what your husband has been doing to manage his PD?

      • Mary Nelson

        Check out Dr Wahl’s book on Amazon for the most complete details of what she did herself.

      • quiethinker

        And also look at an old talk on TED that tells how she got started on all this.
        My husband took glutathione, and some regular Parkinson’s meds. But we followed her protocol… (order her books) and he only had a small tremor in one hand at times. No one knew he had the disease. Some confusion at times but functioned normally for years. Unfortunately he died 3 years ago from Mantle Cell Lymphoma which we believe was attributed to agent orange. He drove a car and exercised up until the last two months. Good luck!

        What an honor to have a reply from Dr. Perlmutter. He is a hero of mine.

        • quiethinker

          We also were in the care of a wonderful functional MD who kept him healthy.

    • David Perlmutter

      Dr. Wahls does wonderful research. Glad she was able to help your husband.

  • Celine Cote Beck

    On page 729 of the study, before the discussion and on the 2nd paragraph in the discussion. There is an indication of a rise in the total cholesterol in one patient of the study and in 5 healthy adults following HKD high in saturated fat but not for adult following HKD high in unsaturated fat. This seems to imply HKD is beneficial to health but that it should be mainly comprised of unsaturated fats. It doesn’t seem to differentiate between LDL and HDL or to calculate ratios. Can Dr Perlmutter comment please?

    • Laura Korman

      I have been on a higher fat Keto Plan with less than 30 grams of net carbs per average day for 14 months eating approx 80% Fat- 15% Protein- 5% Carbs- and plenty of Saturated fats from animal ( Grass fed and organic ) as well as grass fed cheese, heavy cream, and coconut products, lots of avos, mostly salads with added proteins. But all of my cholesterol numbers came down and the ratios improved. I am 54 and have never felt better

    • quiethinker

      I thought it was now proven that cholesterol is not a bad thing….

      • texasmom1943

        It’s the homocysteine and inflammation that gets you – not the colesterol per se and no, it’s not proven because the drug companies would loose billions on statin drugs.

  • Marley

    Saw the 60 Minutes segment on the tragic situation of a group of related people in Colombia with a gene mutation that causes them to contract Alzheimer’s in early middle age. The idea that medical researchers have is to start the people with the mutation on a drug trial whereby these people would be placed on the pharmaceutical early in life before they were showing symptoms, even though the researchers acknowledge that the drug is not effective for patients who already have the disease, in the hope (I missed what was their scientific reasoning) that the drug will be an effective preventative. I was disappointed that no mention was made of the ketogenic diet.

  • Dennis Morrison

    The study did not gain much traction because a study with 5 people is not a study. Hopefully someone will do a serious study with enough people to matter.

  • Henry Litvin

    Dear Friend is an ethical vegan. How do I advise him to avoid carbs if he eats no meat.??

  • scott henderson

    5 People! Utterly irresponsible. I have an autoimmune/neurological disease and I went thru a treatment program that had been proven over two fairly large studies (over 300 people) including one at Stanford U. The treatment failed for me as it did for most people as the numbers got larger and larger. So what was once a 67% success rate, is now down to probably 10-20%. 5 People?!?!? Yes more research is needed.

    • Not sure if “utterly irresponsible” fits here. It’s a simple diet change. Someone with Parkinson’s could easily try it, and if it helps, continue.

      This reminds me of Dr Mary Newport’s efforts to help her husband, who suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s – Her website is a great resource. As Mary writes:

      “Studies of ketone esters for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases urgently need to be undertaken but funding for mass production of the ester and clinical testing has not yet materialized. For now, you can provide ketones to the brain as an alternative fuel by consuming foods that contain medium chain triglycerides to produce ketones. What do you have to lose?”

      • scott henderson

        If food can heal, obviously extreme diets good harm. It’s irresponsible because there is no science behind it. False hope as well can be devastating.

        • Lane Sebring

          Talk to an Inuit about this diet. They have survived for thousands of years on a diet 80% fat and 20% protein. Keep reading please. You will see. Also look at drinking ketones. None of ths is false hope. The people who led you down this path of despair have stolen your hope.

  • Helder

    Parkinson’s disease is characterized by failure of the mitochondria to make energy” … and taking CQ10, (Coenzyme Q10) will help?

  • Buzon

    I have remarkably improved my mental ability from having applied SOME of Dr. Perlmuter’s recommendations. I feel even bigger than regular. In spite of not having totally left the consumption of farináceos like the rice and the corn.

    The improvement has been remarkable.

  • Mandy Spink

    Dear Dr Perlmutter, I am 60 and vegan, simply because I have never liked animal products. However, my grandmother died of ALS, and my mother of Parkinson’s, and I would like to try a ketogenic diet. Is vegan/vegetarian ketogenic at all possible? Many thanks.

    • Emerson Adrian Gale

      Yes, likewise thoughts. I notice so many books are for meat eaters. What do vegetarians and vegans do in order to follow your recommendations?

      • quiethinker

        eat meat

    • Jerry Heintze

      Sorry I’m so late in reading this, but yes there are vegan ketogenic plans. Just google it and you’ll find all kinds of information and meals to make.

  • Randall Bosin

    Why on earth would no larger follow up study be done in the following 12 years after such a promising, albeit small, trial?

  • AKcharle
  • Mike Keyes

    Allso fat don’t need much if any Atp to enter the cell . And theres not much spare atp . Given the mitochondria damage in Parkinson’s. Or any chronic state

  • Renee Le Verrier

    How does this work to start? I take meds every 2 hours for my PD. Without them, I cannot move – literally. I’ve avoided protein (no more than 5 mg/meal) because protein interferes with my med absorption. How do I make the diet switch?

  • private property

    Amazing video David. This is why I stay a subscriber! My grandma had Parkinson’s for years. She was the queen of my town, well known, well connected. She liked her sweets. My uncle her son is actually a doctor, socializing in diabetes, and even was president of the hospital for years.

    Great to know there are natural way to self manage different diseases through proper living. Blows the mind. Bacon for health lol

    • David Perlmutter

      Thanks for subscribing!

  • Steve Morton

    I am 63 years old, I was diagnosed of Parkinsons disease at the age of 57. I had severe calf pain, muscle pain, slurred speech, frequent falls, loss of balance, difficulty getting up from sitting position. I was placed on Sinemet 3 times daily, it helped me but not very much. My neurologist advised me to try natural treatments and introduced me to NewLife Clinic Parkinsons Disease Herbal formula, I read alot of positive reviews from other patients who used the treatment and i immediately started on the treatment. I had great improvement and relief with this treatment, total decline of symptoms. Great improvement with speech, co-ordination, balance, muscle, mood etc, I gained back my life with this treatment and can never be thankful enough. Visit NewLife Clinic official website www. newlifeherbalclinic. com or email info@ newlifeherbalclinic .com.

    My life is back!

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