Everybody has heard the name Muhammad Ali, and when he passed away in 2016, the sad occasion brought with it a chance for more people to learn about his life. Despite his many achievements, Muhammad Ali had been fighting against Parkinson’s disease since the 1970s.

As the most well-known patient of Parkinson’s, Muhammad Ali lived the majority of his life with the disease. After his death, new information suggested that he may have been suffering symptoms of the disease while he was in the ring at the height of his boxing career. However, Stanley Fahn, the neurologist who diagnosed him, stated it is unlikely that the sport itself caused Ali to develop Parkinson’s disease. However, studies suggest that an important factor in the etiology or causes of Parkinson’s disease is oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is generated as a result of mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria are found in every cell of the human body except red blood cells, and these convert energy of food molecules into the ATP that powers most cell functions. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism.

Studies have found that Centrophenoxine, or Meclofenoxate (brand name Lucidril), has been used in the treatment of both senile dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. However, a recent study published in ScienceDirect.com, titled “Effect of Centrophenoxine against oxidative stress of Parkinson’s disease” by Ranjeet Verma, concludes that results strongly indicate the possible therapeutic potential of Centrophenoxine as an antioxidant in Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders where oxidative stress is the key player in the disease process.

Since Parkinson’s develops very slowly, it can often go unnoticed for many years. This perhaps explains why Ali was boxing for several years before the symptoms were noted and before he could begin treatment for the disease.

As Muhammad Ali’s family told the media, his speech became slurred and his movements more irregular and slow. Many patients of Parkinson’s disease suffer these symptoms, along with trembling and loss of balance. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, thus it eventually claims the life of its victims, as it did with Muhammad Ali.

Parkinson’s is known as a neurodegenerative disease, which means that it develops later on in life. This is why people suffering from the disease are usually 50+ years old. While nootropics such as Centrophenoxine can aid the memory and other cognitive functions, the disease will naturally get worse as the patient ages. It can ultimately lead to dementia, which further slows down the brain and memory capabilities.

Health professionals are unsure of the causes of Parkinson’s disease, although many claim that head injuries can bring it on. In Muhammad Ali’s case, doctors have speculated that repeated and prolonged injuries to his head while boxing could have greatly contributed to the development of the disease. Parkinson’s occurs when the nerve cells in the ‘substantia nigra’ part of the brain are damaged, making it unable to produce as much dopamine (the chemical which moves the body) as it needs.

Muhammad Ali’s death helped to draw attention to Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s affects up to 1 million people in the U.S. and doctors diagnose as many as 60,000 new cases each year. Parkinson’s strikes 50 percent more men than women. The average age of onset is 60. Although there is no cure at the moment, certain medication can help to reduce the effects and give patients a better quality of life.

REFERENCES

1.Behavioral alterations in rotenone model of Parkinson’s disease: Attenuation by co-treatment of Centrophenoxine. Bimla Nehrua, Ranjeet Vermaa, Pooja Khannaa – Science Direct
2.Effect of Centrophenoxine against rotenone-induced oxidative stress in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease. Verma R (1), Nehru B.
3.Further evidence of Centrophenoxine mediated protection in aluminium exposed rats by biochemical and light microscopy analysis. Bimla Nehru, Punita Bhalla, Aartie Garg
4.Centrophenoxine improves chronic cerebral ischemia induced cognitive deficit and neuronal degeneration in rats. Yun LIAO, Rui WANG, Xi-can TANG3
5. The Science of Anti-aging Medicine. American Academy of Anti-Aging Med. 1 January 2003. pp. 66–. ISBN 978-0-9668937-3-1.


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