Most of you probably don't know what essential tremor is, also called familial tremor. This is when people have jerking movements of their hands, though it does affect other body parts. Katherine Hepburn is a famous person who had it. Gets worse: as you get older, with stress, in performance situations, and may be related to developing dementia.
Per wikipedia on cause:
"The underlying etiology is not clear but many cases seem to be familial. It has been estimated that approximately one-half of the cases is due to a genetic mutation and the pattern of inheritance is most consistent with autosomal dominant transmission. As of yet, no genes have been identified but genetic linkage has been established with several chromosomal regions. A number of environmental factors, including toxins, are also under active investigation and these may play a role in disease etiology. In terms of pathophysiology, clinical, physiological and imaging studies point to an involvement of the cerebellum and/or cerebellothalamocortical circuits. Recent postmortem studies have demonstrated the presence of degenerative changes in the ET brain, with these changes including Purkinje cell axonal swellings and Purkinje cell loss in the majority of cases and brainstem Lewy bodies in the remainder. These studies suggest that the disease is both heterogeneous and degenerative. In other words, ET might be a family of degenerative diseases rather than a single disease.
"However, emerging research based on brain autopsies of fifty deceased ET patients (as of Dec. 2009), showed clear degenerative and pathological abnormalities, including "messy" neurofilaments which can impede nerve impulses. Research by Dr. Elan Louis and colleagues revealed that 80% of autopsied brains also exhibited changes within the cerebellum particularly to neurons that produce GABA, a major inhibitory neurotransmitter. Further analysis showed elevated levels of two neurotoxins, lead and harmane, a heterocyclic amine. Heterocyclic amines (HCA) are chemicals found in some foods. Harmane has been detected in coffee and cigarettes (see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21776263), but is especially prevalent in meats that have been barbecued or exposed to high heat.
"Another research indicates there is a strong link between essential tremor in males and the amount of meat consumed, but the exact mechanism is yet unknown."
"Tremor intensity can worsen in response to fatigue, strong emotions, low blood sugar, cold, caffeine, lithium salts, some antidepressants or other factors. It is typical for the tremor to worsen in "performance" situations, such as when writing a cheque for payment at a store."
As you can guess, this is something that runs in my family so I'm particularly interested in prevention. Any thoughts on how a paleo diet may help? I just wonder, since fat is such a prime component in brain function, if eating a higher fat diet may be helpful.
I figured there are quite a few clever people here at Paleohacks, and would love to hear some theories!!
asked byPaleolady (1648)
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on October 20, 2011
at 04:33 PM
I have had lifelong low level essential tremor, pronounced in left hand. Not problematic enough to seek "solutions" per se, but noticeable at times. Low carb / ketosis definitely seems to help. Perhaps this is for the same reason that ketosis can help epileptics. Low carb for me has meant eliminating wheat, so who knows, maybe wheat exacerbated the tremor. These things are multiple-factorial so simple conclusions can be ... too simple.
I am interested in the positive clinical reports I read about Selegiline, useful for early-stage Parkinson's and, perhaps, other neurodegenerative problems (via MAOb inhibition).
on January 21, 2013
at 11:27 PM
I know this is an old post & i haven't got a scientific answer, i thought i'd share my findings with you. I've had a tremor since i can remember & i am now 34. I used to laugh it off with my friends, i found it tiring to write for long periods due to me having to work harder to control my pen/pencil & not being able to write fluidly. I could hold cups but found it terribly embarrassing & frustrating as i wasn't a nervous person. I finally went to see a mental health worker & we stumbled upon essential tremor & finally got diagnosed at 26 years old. (thinking back my Nan had this too) I was put on 160mg of propanolol once a day. This helped me massively! i could finally drink from a cup in public again!! The downside was taking medication everyday for the rest of my life. This was a minor irritation until i took the primal leap, (low carb, never going over 100g a day) then it became a concern, being more aware of my health it bothered me popping tablets everyday. Anyway after being primal for 12'ish months i'd forget to take my tablet here & there, then one day i realised id not medicated for 3-4 days with no shakes..fast forward another year or so & i will take on average 1 tablet a month with no noticeable shakes inbetween, the only reason i will take one these days is if i'm going to a big social event, i think this is more to do with psychological attachment rather than a physical need. I'm not saying that food has 'cured' my tremor but i'm convinced it has had a major impact on my condition to the point where it's hardly noticeable. I'm further convinced by this due to my terrible eating habits over the festive period, i had a massive blowout & just ate crappy food with reckless abandon & guess what...i could feel my tremor slowly returning, not as noticeable as my pre-primal days but it was definitely making a return. As you guys can imagine, i'm very pleased with the outcome to say the least.
on October 20, 2011
at 05:09 PM
Vitamin C + Piracetam + Choline. Piracetam is known as magic bullet for muscle jerks. Try big dose, like 5-10g per day, 5 hour dosing.
on October 20, 2011
at 04:57 PM
I have also had ET since my early 30's. My Dad had it (undiagnosed) and my half-brother, Dad's son, has it worse than I do. I also have a seizure disorder and take meds for that and depression. As a consequence of the side effects of the meds, I take Primidone for the ET. Have been strict Paleo for about two months now (actually removed grains over a year ago) and reduced my seizure med dosage by half. Other meds were reduced by half a year ago and my goal is to eventually eliminate them altogether. I also drink decaf coffee. Is the harmane associated with all coffee or just the caffeinated? Also, I prefer my beef steaks BBQ'd, but no longer than 10 minutes because I have read that organic meats cook faster. I generally eat it fairly rare and re-heat for 40 seconds in the microwave for subsequent meals. Would hate to lose that wonderful flavor of BBQ. Any thoughts from anyone about this? Thanks!