Ketosis & Parkinson’s Disease: Improving Symptoms with a Ketogenic Diet

If you feel like you are hearing about more and more about Parkinson’s Disease in the media lately, you shouldn’t be surprised. Cases are being presented with more and more frequency, such that Parkinson’s rate of incidence is now somewhere between 2% and 4% of the population over 60 in the US.

Of course, Parkinson’s is impacted by man factors, such as genetics and environment, but at its core Parkinson’s is an energy issue, characterized by the failure of mitochondrial activity in cells, the location where cellular energy is produced. This paves the way for the subject of today’s discussion, and how a ketogenic diet may lead to symptomatic improvement in Parkinson’s patients. Let’s take a look at the latest science, presented in the journal Neurology.

  • TechnoTriticale

    Since the blog article didn’t link it:

    Fulltext pay-walled at Neurology.

    Pretty striking for a 2005 trial. Surprised I’ve not run into it before.

    • Susan

      I’d like to know the answer to Linda Milkes above, please.

  • Ashwin Patel

    How about inducing Ketosis and then adding Resistant starch and Clostridium Butyricum to the diet to produce Butyrate , which is converted to Beta Hydroxybytyrate (under Ketosis). This substance has shown anti-inflammatory properties by agonistic action on GPR109a receptor.

    • Chris

      I am a 64 year old female. I have been following Dr. Perlmutter’s advice in the Grain Brain and I feel life my Parkinson’s progression has been limited. Consuming small quantities of carbs and sugar and incorporating healthy fats into my diet, along with yoga and exercise, has made a tremendous difference for me. I am taking three Carbidopa/Levodopa 25/100 per day which I have been doing for almost 3 years. Occasionally I wean myself down a bit to two per day and have actually gone to 0 per day. I’m currently back up to 3 per day. I’m curious to know if anyone has tried medical hypnosis in conjunction with their normal practices. Sometimes I feel shaky when I think about Parkinson’s. For the most part I’m okay When I’m distracted I don’t shake so I’m wondering about the psychological element of it all. Any referrals would be greatly appreciated in the Fort Lauderdale FL area.

  • Rebecca Mcintosh

    I have been doing Keto for 16 months & totally off of PD meds & no symptoms. Was taking 3/day. My neurologist pretty much poo pooed the idea. I’m living proof! I now go to an integrated medicine physician. Off of all meds except 1/2 pill for BP. Should be off of that soon. I was taking 13 pills per day. Best thing I’ve ever done for me!

    • Carol Brenner

      My toes curl is the only reason I take meds now after 7 years

    • emil

      Amazing, currently how’re you?

      • Rebecca Mcintosh

        I’m doing great! The only side effect is that I’ve lost 77 pounds!

        • David Perlmutter

          Wonderful results Rebecca. Keep it up!

          • Rebecca Mcintosh

            Thank you for your help with your knowledge in your books.

    • Linda

      Is there any side effect on long run of doing ketogenic diet?

    • Kathy

      Rebecca, were you diagnosed with PD by a movement
      specialist? How long have you had PD?
      There is a seminar in Nov., for professionals, that discusses a nutritional deficiency that exactly mimics parkinsons. They say that those symptoms can be reversed but real parkinsons can not. I am not saying that you do not have PD, but, I can send you this website. I have been on the diet plus thousands of $ of supplements plus walking like John Pepper recommends & have not reversed my symptoms. I feel that I am healthier and probably I have not progressed as much as I would have in the past year, but I still have a tremor on most days. I am sure that my PD is caused by environment. I live on a tree farm & have used many chemicals in the past.
      I am so happy for you. I would like to know how long that you were on the diet before you saw results.
      Thank you.

      • Rebecca Mcintosh

        I was diagnosed in 2012 after doing chemo therapy for almost 2 years. Of course I was told there was no connection. I suggest reading “Road to Recovery from Parkinson’s Disease ” by Robert Rodgers. Amazon has it but a little pricey. Most libraries do not. PD is not cured but symptoms arrested. I’m sure the change in diet affects relate to the severity of the disease. I saw lessened tremors within a few months. There is a side effect from being Keto long term…good health & a clear brain! I am a new person. I don’t remember what I have stated before but I was taking 13 pills per day for various “ailments”. Now I take 1/2 of a BP pill. That will be gone soon as my BP remains normal.

        • Kathy

          Rebecca, thank you so much for answering my questions. I was diagnosed one year ago. My only symptoms were a left arm tremor & sleeplessness. I am using an integrative medicine doctor and on numerous supplements + seledgeline. I agree that my tremor is lessened but not completely gone. My question today is what kind of tumeric are you taking, how much & where did you obtain your brand? I tried regular tumeric spice from the kitchen & had stomach upset. Also, I read that it is not well absorbed. Did your doctor advise you to take the tumeric?
          I have no physical ailments except the PD & do not need to loose weight.
          I am so glad to find someone that has had good results with this diet therapy. It gives me confidence to hang in there. Do you test with ketone strips?
          I wish that I had a way to talk to you personally or by e mail. I hate to loose contact with you & future developments in your life with PD.
          I would like to know more about your kenogenic diet, vegetables, etc. I am on the Wahls Paleo Plus. She reversed her MS symptoms with this diet & is all over the internet.
          Sorry so lengthy. Thanks again for any information.

          • Kenneth Shonk

            The best tumeric supplement on the market is the lyposomal curcumin from Dr. Group – 20x better absorption than straight curcumin. Curcumin consists of a number of curcuminoids so a full spectrum extract is best. Tumeric also contains aromatic tumerone which has the following properties: anti-inflammatory that increases neural stem cells and rate of differentialtion into specialized neural and brain cells; has anti-platlet agregating properties against collagen and arachadonic acid; has potent anti-venom and anti-hemorrhagic activity. Dr. Dale E Bretesen used Dr. Group’s formulation as part of his 36 step protocol for reversing Alzheimer’s (go the website: http://www.buckinstitute.org/bredesenPubs for the Bretesen’s published papers on the Alzheimer’s protocol which can be downloaded from PubMed for free). Dr. Wahl also uses a ketogenic diet in the Wahl Protocol for reversing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis so its applicability extends to many neurological disorders beyond PD. If your PD is not getting significantly better perhaps it needs to be combined with a detox program – also part of the Bredesen and Wahl protocols. Toxins often do their damage by interferrng with mitochondrial function and damaging / killing the mitochondria. Hope this helps. Also see Dr. Mercola’s new book – Eat Fat for Energy – or something like that (April, 2017 pub date).

          • Kathy

            KENNETH, I will certainly look into Dr Groups curcumin. I have been on the Wahls Paleo Plus high fat, anti inflammatory diet for 10 months. I am on vitamin detox therapy plus the diet is a detox diet. I am having all metal removed from my mouth but am still hesitant about intravenous chelation.
            I really appreciate your interest. Any info is greatly appreciated.

      • Michael Sakal

        What is the condition called that mimics Parkinson’s disease? Thanks

        • Kathy

          Michael, I do not know how to copy the website so that you can click & open but will try to type it out so that you can find it. It is way too deep for me. I am going to make copies & let my neurologist read it when I visit in Aug. also, go to the bottom of the page & pull up some of the papers on Parkinsons. They are very deep also. The website is Neurosupport.com. AMA certified category1 CME relative nutritional deficiency conference.
          It is neuro research a medical education company.

          Also, pull up Dr Terry Wahls website. Listen to her Ted x talk. Her book, The Wahls Protocol, is on reversing multiple sclerosis but she includes parkinsons also. It cost $11 on Amazon. Money well spent if you want to know about what to eat on a kenogenic diet. This is my 10th month. There are 3 levels to the diet. I am on the 3rd level, Paleo Plus. Very low carb is what you want but plenty of nutrients. You can not do it all at once even though I tried. You will make adjustments weekly as you learn.
          I hope that this helps.

          • Michael Sakal

            Kathy – thank you very much for this information. Do you feel the kept diet has been worth the effort. Food is one of the few pleasures I have left in life. Thanks

          • Kathy

            Anything that gives me a chance of staving off the normal prognosis of this disease is worth it. I can eat most anything that does not harm me & be happy as long as I could drink a glass of wine with it. Giving up the glass of wine is really, really hard!!! But if I drink wine, I will have tremors the next day. That is the pattern that I am seeing right now.
            I did not think that I was overweight but after being on this diet, I am at the same weight as when I graduated high school. I really have to work not to loose more. I have found a legal chocolate cake that I make if I loose too much. I am on multiple supplements after blood test from an integrative med doctor.
            Do a search on the relative nutritional deficiency issue & read more.

      • Carol

        I was diagnosed 7 years ago – no constipation, no eye problem, no speech issues. I have tremors and curled toes on my right side. I also had gastric bypass. Going to try the keto plan.

    • Michael Sakal

      Rebecca – That’s amazing. Congratulations. Can you share what you have been eating? Thanks

      • Rebecca Mcintosh

        The Ketogenic way of eating…period

        • Michael Sakal

          Can you provide a bit more specificity?

          • Rebecca Mcintosh

            No grains, no sugar, moderate protein, good fats, 1/2 my body weight in water, moderate dairy, occasional nuts & berries & stay under 20g carbs/day. Lots of good advice & recipes available. My suggestions for success are read continuously & prepare.

    • Carol

      What’s bp?

      • Joanne

        blood pressure

    • Madhu

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease 4 years ago. Now I am 47 years old. I read your comments a couple of months ago and started ketogenic diet. After 2 months, I see very small improvements in the symptoms. How many more months does it take to see significant improvements?

      Thank you in advance.

      • Kathy

        I have been doing Keto for 16 months & would occasionally see results. Tremors would come & go; PD would progress. I find that the deeper that I go into ketosis, the less symptoms that I have. Just keep cutting those carbs. I am on Wahls Paleo Plus. Low carb plus good nutrition.

        • Madhu

          Thank you, Kathy

  • Mo

    Sinemet does not do well with protein. So perhaps people that did not do well in the study were eating protein when they were taking their meds.

    • Rebecca Mcintosh

      I eat moderate amounts of protein but I think decreasing the meds is a better option than decreasing protein

  • Susan

    What about a ketogenic diet when a Parkinson’s patient also has kidney disease (and diabetes)?

    • Kathy

      Susan, the Wahls paleo plus that I am on should also alleviate your diabetes. I am sugar free, grain free & dairy free. Dr Wahls encourages you to work with your doctor to reduce your meds as your health improves. Her book is called The Wahls Protocol.

      • David Perlmutter

        Dr. Wahls is doing some fabulous research.

  • Kathy

    Are you on supplements from your integrative medicine doctor?

    • Rebecca Mcintosh

      Omega 3 & turmeric.

    • Kathy

      I have been on the diet for 10 months. My tremor has gone away twice for 2 weeks then return (only during the daytime). I am on multiple supplements but only take seledgeline for PD. How long did it take for your symptoms to go away after you started the diet? Do you walk for exercise? You are the only other person that I have have had contact with that has tried this.
      I am on the Wahls Paleo Plus diet.

      • Kathy

        This was for Rebecca.

  • Linda Milkes

    Can you do a ketogenic diet if you have adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism? If so, how do you do it? Thanks!

    • Kunk

      Linda, I’d encourage you to look into it.
      I am no expert, but share the diagnoses you mentioned, then when menopause hit, more weight just kept packing on, I always felt overwhelmed, and was just ..not my best!
      I am just learning …but have adjusted major components of my diet so far: removing most carbs ( my big surprise learning my fat free pretzels were converting to sugar) , drinking 4-6 pints of water a day, ADDING good fats, and eating more often. Lots of veggies..not new of course, but throughout the day. And for the adrenal issue, try to find nuts/seeds with magnesium.
      It is the first time I have begun to see changes. Slow, but steady. No longer increasing, but decreasing, I have more energy, and my mood has been much more stable and peaceful. I’d encourage you to read one of Dr. P’s books if you haven’t..then you’ll keep gaining the mental framework for a lifestyle change. Blessings and hope to you!

      ( oh, I forgot to mention…I had been on levothyroxine for 35+ years. I slowly backed it down, cutting pills in half, then skipping days. I haven’t had any for a few months now, I am thinking I’m reversing what I had thought was permanent.)

  • DEb

    which version of the Keto diet are you on? My husband was just diagnosed with PD. He is very athletic and very thin already. He needs all the carbs he can get. How extreme of a diet should he go on under those circumstances. He definately has no weight to lose!

    • Rebecca Mcintosh

      It’s not about weight loss, it’s about health. Read the science behind it. It’s eye opening

  • Cap

    Does Dr. Perlmutter recommend a particular ketogenic diet for Parkinson’s patients?

  • Jane Jewell
  • Joy Muir
  • rebecca tarver

    I have mild PD, diagnosed about 2 yrs ago. I’m interested in the keto diet but concerned about losing weight — my BMI is currently at 19. I lose weight easily and am currently in treatment (herbal) for SIBO. Where can I find someone who can advise me on an appropriate diet strategy?

    • Kathy

      I use the Wahls Paleo Plus diet. Get her book, the Wahls Protocol from Amazon. If I lose to much I make a chocolate cake & eat all that I want. Puts me right back up a couple of lbs.
      3 Tbls coconut flour
      2 Tbls unsweetened cocoa
      1/2 tsp baking powder
      1/4 pure stevia powder (optional)
      1 egg
      3 Tbls coconut milk
      2 Tbls ghee
      1 tsp vanilla
      2 Tbls honey
      Some walnuts

      Bake for 20 min.

      • David Perlmutter

        A great resource for those with MS, I’m a big fan of Dr. Wahls’ work and research.

  • Amy


    Interested in this chat, because I also have PD and treat myself with a ketogenic diet. I’m pretty strict–I’d say I keep to about 20g of carbs a day, moderate to low protein and very very high fat. I’m off meds, and I’d say my symptoms are pretty minimal. I even think my sense of smell might have improved, a little. But it’s hard to tell. I’m not worse. (I was diagnosed by DaTscan, so yes, I have it for sure.)

    I’m only a few years in, so I guess I don’t know how well diet alone will handle the disease further down the road. (The med I was on before was Azilect)

    But here is the most interesting thing–in addition to the Parkinson’s I also have an essential tremor. It’s on my non-Parkinson’s side, and I’ve had it since my early 20’s. It’s benign, slow progressing, but very noticeable….but…it’s disappeared completely. And the thing is, I don’t think it’s placebo effect, because in a million years I didn’t expect the keto diet to touch it. So what is that about?

    BTW: I do NOT do the Wahls protocol. And I am highly suspicious of any protocol you have to “buy” like the John Pepper thing. I need a pharmacological explanation for my decisions. All I do is the keto diet.

  • Kathy

    I would like to ask Shirley McIntosh if she is still free of parkinsons symptoms.

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