Parkinson’s and NAD

 In Naturopathic News

New Research Supports Niacin for Parkinson’s Disease Treatment

New research1 further supports the use of Niacin in the treatment and long-term management of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Parkinson’s disease occurs when dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra are lost; the loss of dopamine causes the neurological manifestations of PD. This loss of dopaminergic function can have various etiologies, but as Dr. Miguel Martins, lead researcher of the study points out,

“in some hereditary cases, the main problem is unhealthy mitochondria.”

The role of dysfunctional mitochondria in the pathogenesis of PD has been explained before2, as a cascade of events which includes cellular insult leading to a decreased membrane potential and more permeable transitional pores. The increased pore permeability, in turn, leads to a depletion of NAD+ and ultimately cell death.

The Study

Since NAD+ is a major factor in both energy production and DNA repair, Martin’s team sought to show that increasing NAD would affect the integrity of cells, which may have a genetic predisposition to this mitochondrial dysfunction – PINK1 mutations.1 The study found that the co-enzyme (NAD+) is essential for both generating energy in mitochondria and nuclear DNA repair through NAD+-consuming poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs). Diet supplemented with the NAD+ precursor nicotinamide rescued mitochondrial defects and protected neurons from degeneration.

Therapeutic Potential for Vitamin B3/niacin-based Dietary Interventions and PARP Inhibition

These results suggest that in familial Parkinson’s, available NAD is an underlying factor in maintaining mitochondrial integrity and keeping the disease at bay. Dr. Martins comments that:  “Drugs that block NAD-consuming DNA repair already exist to treat cancer, and loading up on niacin probably can’t hurt either. While neither of these would be a cure, they would expand treatment options for Parkinson’s patients with faulty mitochondria. This study strengthens the therapeutic potential for Vitamin B3/niacin-based dietary interventions and PARP inhibition in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.”


  1. Lehmann S, Loh SH, Martins LM. Enhancing NAD+ salvage metabolism is neuroprotective in a PINK1 model of Parkinson’s disease. Biol Open. 2017;6(2):141-147. doi: 10.1242/bio.022186.
  2. Krantic S, Mechawar N, Reix S, Quirion R. Molecular basis of programmed cell death involved in neurodegeneration. Trends Neurosci. 2005;28(12):670

    Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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