What is the connection between the sense of smell and Parkinson's disease?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

A study published in the Annals of Neurology found that people who couldn't identify the scent of bananas, lemons, cinnamon, or other common household items were as much as five times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease. The reason may be that the olfactory center of our brains (the area responsible for helping us smell) is one of the earliest parts of the brain hit by Parkinson's. Losing your ability to appreciate or distinguish certain smells may happen as early as 7 years before an official diagnosis, so taking note early can help you do what you can to ward off this neurological condition.

Research suggests that Omega-3 fatty acids may help build resistance to the toxin that causes Parkinson's symptoms. Add some Omega-3 rich foods to your diet such as wild-caught salmon, shrimp, walnuts, and flaxseed oil. 

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For several years it is been observed that people who experience a gradual loss of the ability to smell have a greater chance of developing Parkinson’s disease. The neurotransmitter (dopamine) which is involved with developing PD is the same one that is used by the olfactory system (sense of smell). It is thought the degenerative process the causes PD predominantly effects the dopamine using cells of the brain. Therefore, in some individuals the loss of the dopamine using cells involved with the sense of smell may eventually develop Parkinson’s disease.
Nader Pouratian, MD

Loss of smell has been documented in approximately 90 percent of patients with Parkinson’s disease. It can often be one of the earliest signs of disease, but goes unnoticed until one thinks back about their symptoms. The loss of smell progresses very little with the progression of the disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.