ASTONISHED medics have revealed a remarkable treatment for Parkinson’s disease – a PET DOG.
Incredible improvements in a 28-year-old woman with the brain disease have been credited to her pooch.
Three years after being diagnosed, she was taking large doses of four different drugs a day to control symptoms.
She also had a morphine pump for 14 hours a day and was deteriorating fast.
But after being given a highland terrier by a friend, doctors reported major improvements in symptoms and a drop in the drugs she needed.
Amazingly, she no longer needed her daily morphine.
Doctors at Imperial College London, who report her case in the Journal Of Neurology, said: “Remarkably sustained benefits occurred, with improvement in her walking and symptoms including appetite, sleep and bowel function, as well as socialisation.”
Docs are unsure how the dog had such a dramatic effect, but they say that having to walk, feed and look after the pet encouraged her to exercise regularly.
One theory is that the responsibility of looking after the dog and the exercise involved may have had an effect on dopamine, the brain chemical involved in both the movement and thinking areas of the brain.
It is the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain that leads to Parkinson’s and some drugs used to treat it stimulate areas of the brain that produce the chemical.
Having the pet may have led to a stimulation of dopamine-producing cells in a similar way.
It is the first time these kind of effects have been reported in Parkinson’s, but pets have been shown to have other health benefits too.
And it’s not just dogs. Cats, rabbits and even goldfish can cut the risk of allergies in children, lower the chances of developing hayfever and reduce blood pressure. . .
HEART ATTACK: Having pets lowers the risk of dying after a heart attack by three per cent, according to a report from Purdue University in America.
ALLERGY: Children exposed to two or more dogs or cats during the first year of life were 66 to 77 per cent less likely to have any allergies, a study at the Medical College Of Georgia, USA, found.
DEPRESSION: Researchers at the University Of Missouri found levels of serotonin increased after owners stroked their dogs. Antidepressants work by increasing levels of the same brain chemical.
HAYFEVER: The allergy, which effects around 15 per cent of people in the UK, is 30 per cent lower among cat owners, according to Japan’s Himeji Medical Association.
ECZEMA: Children with dogs in the home for the first three years of life were half as likely to develop eczema, Marshfield Clinic in America found.
BLOOD PRESSURE: One study at the Baker Medical Research Institute, Australia, showed pet owners had significantly lower blood pressure than non-owners.