What is essential tremor?
Anyone affected by essential tremor (ET) knows that it can be difficult to perform simple tasks of daily living, such as writing or drinking, which can be frustrating as well as humiliating and embarrassing. Those affected can also experience social isolation and discrimination.
Everyone has some sort of tremor, but it is so small in most people that it is not noticeable. ET is the most common type of tremor. It is eight times more common than Parkinson’s disease.
Essential tremor can occur in different muscle groups, such as those of the arms, eyelids, or head, but it most commonly occurs in the hands. In rare cases, the tremor is in the legs and feet.
In essential tremor, the affected body parts shake at a rate of more than five times per second. Tremors occur during movement and are less noticeable with rest (action tremor).
If the tremor is in the hands, the person has difficulty using tools, drinking from a glass or cup, writing, and drawing. The voice may shake or quiver if the tremor affects the larynx. The person affected may nod the head. The tremor does not occur during sleep.
Who is affected?
ET can affect people at any age. It affects 4% of people 40 years of age and older, and much higher percentages of people in their 60s to 90s. It occurs most often in people over age 65.
Causes of ET
About one-half of cases of essential tremor run in families, so there is a genetic component. The other half of cases is likely caused by environmental factors, especially toxins such as heavy metals, especially lead and mercury. Dental amalgam fillings contain 50% mercury.
Other causes of ET include consumption of meat cooked at high temperatures. Blood harmane (1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole), a potent neurotoxin also present in coffee and cigarettes, was 50% higher in patients with ET than in controls according to one study.
What makes ET worse?
Stress, certain medications (antidepressants, lithium salts), caffeine, low blood sugar, heat and cold, intense emotions, fatigue, and performance situations (e.g., presentations) can make ET worse.
What makes ET better?
Restful sleep and alcohol improve ET symptoms. Alcohol is effective because it induces relaxation, but it is not recommended as a treatment for ET because of its addictive properties.
Conventional treatment consists of beta blockers, anti-seizure drugs, mild tranquilizers, and Botox injections into the hands to weaken affected muscles. For more severe cases where quality of life is severely affected, stereotactic radiosurgery (beaming X-rays to the affected part of the brain) and stimulating devices implanted directly into the parts of the brain that control movement are considered.
If you or someone you know has essential tremor, we can work together to decrease the impact of the condition. The naturopathic approach is a good way to treat ET because it does not require taking prescription drugs, which can have unpleasant side effects
Contact me today for your complimentary 15 min consultation.
Yours in health and vitality,
Lina Mockus, ND
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