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Lower Parkinson’s Risk with Peppers and Tomatoes

Michael Omidi, MD looks at the benefits that naturally occurring nicotine in peppers and tomatoes can have on the risk of Parkinson’s.

Studies have shown that those who use tobacco may have a lower risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease later in their lives. These studies strongly suggest that the lowered risk is a result of nicotine, but that doesn’t mean that you should start smoking if you are worried about Parkinson’s. As almost everyone these days now knows, tobacco use is connected to a litany of diseases including stroke, lung cancer, heart disease, and reduced life expectancy.  What most people do not know is that nicotine is naturally occurring in vegetables from the Solanaceae family and vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes may provide protection.

Recent research is indicating that naturally occurring nicotine, or another less toxic chemical found in both tobacco and peppers, can help lower risk of Parkinson’s. A study that was conducted on 500 individuals who were newly diagnosed with the disease and 650 people without Parkinson’s discovered a number of interesting findings:

  • While vegetable consumption in general didn’t seem to have an effect on Parkinson’s, lowered risk was seen in individuals that consumed vegetables in the Solanaceae family. Vegetables in this family include potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes, but the strongest correlation was seen in peppers. 
  • The peppers offered the most protection to those who previously had never used tobacco or had used it sparingly.
  • No definitive relationship of cause-and-effect could be determined in the study, however.

Many in the medical community have shown evidence that diet can greatly influence whether or not people are susceptible to neurological diseases and this study seems to further confirm that.

Studies are currently being performed to test the efficacy of a nicotine patch to treat patients with early on-set Parkinson’s.

By Michael Omidi, MD

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