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These  abnormal microscopic deposits cause a variety of Lewy body disorders.

Where the Lewy bodies reside determines the symptoms that occur and what the resulting disorder is called.

In the early 1900s, the scientist Friederich H. Lewy, while researching Parkinson's disease, discovered abnormal protein deposits (called Lewy bodies) in the mid-brain, causing the symptoms related to Parkinson's.

Much later, in the 1980's, a Japanese physician, Dr. Kosaka, discovered the same Lewy Bodies in the cerebral cortex of patients with dementia.

Lewy bodies have also been discovered in other areas of the brain and the body including the occipital lobe which controls visual perceptions and the intestine.

Lewy bodies damage brain cells (neurons) by depleting them of neurotransmitters, chemicals the brain needs to function properly.

Depending on where they reside, Lewy bodies extract different neurotransmitters, resulting in different symptoms.

As the Lewy bodies increase in number, they tend to migrate to other areas of the brain, where they cause more symptoms. Thus a person with Parkinsonís may eventually also have dementia symptoms.

You might call Lewy bodies the building blocks of all Lewy body disorders.

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) exists either in pure form, or in conjunction with other brain changes, including those typically seen in Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.
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Lewy Body Disorders:

Lewy bodies are alpha-synuclein proteins that become damaged and clump together in the brain.

Lewy bodies are proteins that become damaged and clump together into microscopic deposits that
cause a variety of symptoms. No one is sure what damages these proteins and makes them toxic. Researchers believe that it is a combination of genetics and environment. There is a growing body of evidence that exposure to pesticides and petro-chemical toxins greatly increases the likelihood of a person developing a Lewy Body Disorder.

For more in depth information about this research,  read Managing Cognitive Issues, available in print or Kindle.

Lewy bodies may start out in one area of the brain, but as the number increases, they tend to migrate to other areas. Lewy bodies damage brain cells (neurons) by depleting them of neurotransmitters, chemicals the brain needs to function properly.

Symptoms depend on the area of the brain and the neurotransmitters affected. However, some symptoms are common to all Lewy body disorders. Their incidence increases as the Lewy bodies increase.

Common Symptoms to All:

Although Lewy body disorders have many symptoms in common, each individual is unique. No person will have all symptoms and no two people will have the same ones. The number and severity of symptoms tends to increase as the Lewy bodies increase.

Drug sensitivity:
Lewy bodies can cause a person to react to a normal dose of certain drugs as though it were an overdose. This may eventually become an issue no matter what disorders are present. This dangerous symptom often makes traditional medical treatment problematic. Read more 

Symptoms and abilities come and go, or wax and wane. A person may be able to think clearly one minute and feel confused a few minutes later, may be able to eat without help one day and be unable to hold a spoon the next.

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) Dysfunctions:
Lewy bodies slow down ANS functioning, causing problems with swallowing, digestion and evacuation, blood circulation and  more.

Poor Sensory Perception (especially visual):
Although one's sight may be perfect, Lewy bodies can cause poor depth perception, hand-eye coordination double vision, illusions and hallucinations.

For more about these symptoms, read A Caregiver's Guide to Lewy Body Dementia, available in print or on Kindle.
Lewy Dangerous Drugs:

Lewy bodies can cause normal doses of certain drugs to act a to act as an overdose. Symptoms include:
  • increased confusion and decreased confusion
  • possibly irreversible motor symptoms such as rigidity and heavy sedation
  • In very rare cases, neuroleptic malignant syndrome (fever, muscle rigidity and kidney failure) may be fatal. Because of its possible dangers, this  is probably the most serious of all Lewy body symptoms.

The most risky drugs are those commonly used to manage stress, anger, acting-out behavior, hallucinations and delusions.
  • Benzodiazepines, tranquilizers like diazepam and lorazepam
  • Most anticholinergics
  • Surgical anesthetics, especially inhaled
  • Older anti-depressants
  • Certain over-the-counter medications, including antihistamines and decongestants
  • Some PD medications increase cognitive symptoms

Find a more comprehensive list of Lewy-dangerous drugs here. Click this link

People at risk:
Drug sensitivity is a hidden symptom. It appears only after a person has taken a drug, often one they may have used safely in the past. People at risk include:
  • Anyone with Lewy body dementia
  • Anyone with a Lewy body disorder. Although this symptom is seldom present with early PD, the likelihood of its present increase as Lewy bodies in the brain increase.
  • Anyone with any type of dementia. Although the diagnosis may not be LBD, dementias are usually mixed and LBD may still be present.
  • Anyone over the age of 70. Researchers have found that it is not only Lewy body disorders that put people at risk for these sensitivities. Anyone over the age of 70 is at risk.
  • Anyone fitting the above at risk categories, and their caregivers, should be very careful when dealing with these drugs.

Always try non-medical remedies first. If drugs are deemed necessary, Lewy-savvy physicians will choose the mildest one possible, prescribe a very low dose and monitor carefully.

Both "A Caregiver's Guide to Lewy Body Dementia" and "Managing Cognitive Issues" have long chapters on drug management. Read both. The information is compatible but not repetitive.

Alternatives to the use of Lewy-dangerous drugs:
The "Caregiver's Guide" provides alternatives to drugs used with many different problems. "Managing Cognitive Issues" offers many alternative suggestions  including stress management tools, better communication skills, and  a variety of alternative therapies.

For more about specific alternative therapies, we have provided on this website, information about and access to those alternative products and therapies included in our workshops.
To access our LBD Research Library,
click this button:

April 2, 2015
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What Are Lewy bodies?