16 Herbs Scientifically Shown to Be Powerful Allies for Those with Parkinson’s

Herbs to treat Parkinson’s disease: Many important herbs are effective in supporting people with Parkinson’s disease. I will walk you through some of these herbs and other natural compounds that can help you or a loved one facing this disease.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disease facing middle-aged and older adults.

In 1817, James Parkinson wrote the first description of PD. Also known as idiopathic paralysis agitans, Parkinson’s disease affects the central nervous system. About 1% of those over the age of 65 suffer from it. According to the Global Burden of Disease survey, in 2017, there were 1.02 million new cases of PD.[1] Globally, 6.1 million PD patients were recorded in 2016.[2]

What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?

While we don’t understand everything about PD, scientists have discovered various pathogenic mechanisms and critical components that may contribute to it. These include protein aggregation, iron buildup, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress.

diagram of Different types of pathways for neurodegeneration in PD by Lewy
Bodies (LBs), an α-synuclein, caspase activation, and releasing different types of inflammatory cytokine.[
Different types of pathways for neurodegeneration in PD by Lewy
Bodies (LBs), an α-synuclein, caspase activation, and releasing different types of inflammatory cytokine.[3]

In addition, researchers have connected Lewy Bodies (clumps of protein that develop within damaged neurons) and the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra as contributing to the motor decline that categorizes this disease.[4]

diagram of Biomarkers of Parkinson's disease: A single biomarker cannot reflect the complexity of the disorder. Clinical, laboratory, imaging, and genetic data need to be judiciously combined to accurately predict disease status and progression
Biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease: A single biomarker cannot reflect the complexity of the disorder. Clinical, laboratory, imaging, and genetic data need to be judiciously combined to accurately predict disease status and progression.[5]

How Is PD Treated Conventionally  

Anti-Parkinson drugs include dopamine agonists, levodopa, carbidopa, monoamine oxidase type B inhibitors, and anticholinergics.

In cases where drug therapy is not effective, doctors will recommend surgery, such as deep brain stimulation and continuous subcutaneous apomorphine infusion.[6],[7] Some data suggest that patients receiving levodopa-carbidopa intestinal gel (LCIG) infusion may have higher long-term persistence rates than patients receiving continuous subcutaneous apomorphine infusion.[8]

Harmful Side Effects

Unfortunately, many of today’s conventional treatments for PD have a number of harmful side effects. These treatments are only partially effective at controlling symptoms, have no therapeutic value, and are costly.

Herbal medicine, however, has long been a valuable source of possible treatments. The exciting news is that while a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is terrifying for a patient and their family, PD can be managed well with various natural remedies, especially herbs and herbal compounds. In my next blog, I will share several herbs that alleviate specific symptoms.

Natural Products and Herbs to Treat Parkinson’s Disease

Not only do plant compounds appear to help inhibit iron buildup and protein misfolding, but they have other beneficial effects, including the maintenance of proteasomal breakdown, mitochondrial homeostasis, and other neuroprotective processes.[9]

So, let’s look at some medicinal plants and their compounds researched for their potential use in Parkinson’s disease.

diagram of the Many herbal compounds and herbs to treat Parkinson’s disease have shown evidence of protecting neural cells from oxidative stress in animal and cell models


Many herbal compounds and herbs to treat Parkinson’s disease have shown evidence of protecting neural cells from oxidative stress in animal and cell models.[11]

32 Chinese herbal medicines (belonging to 24 genera, such as AcanthopanaxAlpinia, and Astragalus), 22 Chinese traditional herbal formulations, and 3 Indian herbal medicines, of which the ethanol/water extraction or main bioactive compounds, have been extensively investigated on PD models both in vitro and in vivo. [12]

Diagram of 32 Chinese herbal medicines (belonging to 24 genera, such as Acanthopanax, Alpinia, and Astragalus), 22 Chinese traditional herbal formulations, and 3 Indian herbal medicines, of which the ethanol/water extraction or main bioactive compounds, have been extensively investigated on PD models both in vitro and in vivo
Diagram of substances that inhibit a synuclein overexpression and their neuroprotective mechanisms.


Supporting Mitochondria

Mitochondria are considered the only source of energy production within cells. This organelle is vital for neural function and survival by producing energy ATP and regulating intracellular calcium.

Mitochondrial dysfunction significantly contributes to both idiopathic and familial types of PD. It depletes cellular energy, disrupts homeostasis, and induces oxidative stress, leading to cell death.[14]

Plants known as adaptogens are protective against mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage.

Schisandra chinensis demonstrated an ability to fortify mitochondrial antioxidant status, and Panax ginseng has shown neuroprotective actions.[15]

Rhaponticum carthamoides, rich in Ecdisterones, increases anabolic metabolism and antioxidant defenses.

Adaptogens can also improve the ability of the body to utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

In my book, “Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism,” I provide a breakdown of the categories of adaptogens and explain the concept of how certain plants, when working together, have a synergistic effect that provides a strong foundation, which I like to refer to as “root medicine” for effectively supporting age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s.

The advent of genomics, an understanding of scientific information about the composition and functions of genomes, has created unprecedented opportunities for increasing our understanding of how many of the plant compounds I frequently refer to as companion adaptogens can modulate gene and protein expression and ultimately influence cellular and organ-system metabolism.[16]

Influencing gene expression by inhibiting various genes that activate diseases and up regulating those that inhibit diseases and slow the aging process is an important target for these plant extracts.

We can consider adaptogens as “multi-tasking gene behavior mediators,” directly affecting important pathways involved in causing chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Herbal Compounds and Herbs to Treat Parkinson’s

1. Ginseng and Ginsenosides (Primary Adaptogen)

Picture of Ginseng
Panax Ginseng

Panax ginseng (Ginseng) is a primary adaptogen, tonic, and central nervous system enhancer.

Ginseng improves overall mental performance, particularly during periods of prolonged stress. It helps with poor concentration due to fatigue or old age and is also considered a general anti-aging tonic for the elderly.

Panax ginseng has recently been found to possess neurotrophic and neuroprotective properties. This means it improves neurological health, which I believe is useful in preventing various forms of neuronal cell loss, including the degeneration observed in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Ginseng improves learning capacity.[17],[18] In an animal study, Ginseng and Schisandra extracts taken together and administered orally as a tonic also improve learning and memory performance, suggesting that combining Ginseng and Schisandra might be useful for treating physiological aging and age-related memory deficits in humans.[19]

2. Ashwagandha, Another of the Herbs to Treat Parkinson’s Disease; Withania somnifera (Primary Adaptogen)

Picture of Withania Somnifera
Withania somnifera

Withania somnifera, known as ashwagandha, is an elite herbal medicine believed to promote physical and mental health. In Indian medicine, this herb can augment the body’s resistance to disease and adverse environmental factors, revitalize the body in debilitated conditions, and even increase longevity.[20],[21]

Ashwagandha also hasa GABA-like effect (gamma-aminobutyric acid), as well as an enhancing effect on acetylcholine receptors.[22] It has also been found to inhibit heavy metal-induced neurotoxicity.[23]These effects may explain how ashwagandha enhances memory and inhibits age-related neurological diseases.

3. Mucuna pruriens (Secondary Adaptogen)

Picture of Mucuna Pruriens
Mucuna pruriens

Mucuna pruriens has therapeutic qualities in all its components: anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, and anti-microbial. It’s also a potent aphrodisiac. It has been known as one of the herbs to treat Parkinson’s disease since the 19th century.[24]

In fact, using this herb may be more effective over the long term than standard L-DOPA therapy, which causes severe dyskinesia when used for a long time. Its seed, leaf, and stem all have significant neuroprotective properties.

Because seeds have more L-DOPA than other parts of the plant, they are often used as anti-PD drugs.[25]

Recently, several clinical trials on Parkinson’s patients have shown convincing results.[26]

4. Epimedium gradiflorum (Secondary Adaptogen)

Picture of Epimedium Grandiflorum
Epimedium grandiflorum

Epimedium is also known as horny goat weed.

This plant is effective in enhancing sexual energy. However, its broad-spectrum health-promoting beneficial effects on graceful aging should be more appreciated. 

Horny goat weed is particularly useful for fortifying Yang Essence, fueling an aging endocrine-hormonal system. For Chinese medicine practitioners: this remedy’s deep, systemic neuroendocrine tonification is used for deficient Kidney and Liver Yang.[27]

Epimedium enhancement of sexual functions involves multiple activities, including peripheral circulatory, vasodilatory, androgenic, and neurological activities.[28]

Scientists have also found that Epimedium can help patients recover from brain diseases.[29]


Icariin is the active compound found in Epimedium. Icariin has been found to enhance the expressions of hippocampus brain-derived neurotrophic factor and ameliorate Alzheimer’s disease by regulating sirtuin1 to inhibit amyloid-β protein and improves amyloid-β cascade pathogenesis.[30]

5. Bacopa monnieri (Secondary Adaptogen)

PIcture of Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is commonly known as Brahmi. Of all the herbs to treat Parkinson’s disease, this one has been extensively used as medicine for various disorders, including anxiety, depression, and memory loss.

The active constituents and metabolites responsible for the effects of B monnieri include the steroidal saponins bacoside A and B, bacopaside I and II, bacopasaponin C, betulinic acid, asiatic acid, loliolide, ebelin lactone, and quercetin.

Its helpful role in brain disorders might be related to its ability to modulate neurotransmission, neurogenesis, neuronal plasticity, intracellular signaling, epigenetics, cerebral blood flow, energy metabolism, protein folding, endoplasmic reticulum stress, neuroendocrine system, oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis.[31]

Diagram of Bacoside-A and B

This herb has been clinically proven to inhibit neurodegeneration, improve memory and mood, exhibit anti-depressant behavior, and displays redox/anti-oxidative actions.[32],[33]

B. monnieri has adaptogenic and anti-stress qualities. It also possesses potent free- radical-scavenging effects. This helps the body and the brain rid themselves of various toxins and heavy metals, including aluminum,[34] scopolamine,[35] glutamate,[36] and cigarette smoking-induced brain mitochondrial dysfunction.[37],[38]

Protection From Neuroinflammation

One reason I include Bacopa in my arsenal of herbs to support clients with Parkinson’s disease is that it inhibits the release of inflammatory cytokines from microglial cells and inhibits enzymes associated with inflammation in the brain. Thus, Bacopa can limit inflammation in the central nervous system. It offers a promising source of novel therapeutics for treating many central nervous system disorders.[39]

6. Ganoderma lucidum, aka Reishi Mushroom (Secondary Adaptogen)

Picture of Ganoderma Lucidum
Ganoderma lucidum

Medicinal mushrooms are a rich and largely untapped source of biologically active compounds that can help slow neurodegenerative disorders.[40]

For example, pre-clinical research found that a Ganoderma lucidum extract (GLE) reduced chemical (MPTP)-induced Parkinsonism.[41]

An unmedicated 50-year-old patient had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and lived with it for five years. He decided to initiate self-treatment with GLE 300 mg. once a day for three months. He wanted to evaluate the effects to decide whether or not to continue self-treatment.

Realizing this was an opportunity to contribute to science, this patient agreed to fill out questionnaires about his symptoms during the time he was taking the mushrooms. He found that taking reishi mushrooms helped in increasing his mindfulness. His motor symptoms stayed stable. There were no extreme changes in his quality of life. Interestingly, his emotion regulation, which had seemed to deteriorate over time, improved (albeit only slightly) at his 3-month assessment.[42]

7. Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese Skullcap) and Baicalein (Companion Adaptogen)

Picture of Scutellaria Baicalensis
Scutellaria baicalensis

Chinese Skullcap is a well-known anti-inflammatory. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, it is used to clear away heat and dampness, purge fire, and detoxify. 

Scutellaria is multi-functional: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antithrombic, as well as being neuroprotective. Baicalinbaicaleinwogoninchrysin, oroxylin A, and Skullcapflavone II are the active compounds.[43],[44]

Baicalin may mitigate the neuroinflammation associated with PD.[45]

The neuroprotective effects of baicalein on dopaminergic dysfunction and lipid peroxidation have been demonstrated.[46] In one study, Baicalein prevented the buildup of ROS, apoptosis, ATP depletion, and mitochondrial membrane rupture in PC12 cells when tested for rotenone-induced neurotoxicity.[47] Baicalein treatment prevents dopamine levels in the basal ganglia from dropping. It also appears to boost dopamine and 5-hydroxytryptamine levels.[48] In Hela and SH-SY5Y cells, Baicalein inhibited the aggregation of α-synuclein and the production of α-synuclein oligomers.[49]

8. American (Western) Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Western Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) was used by both Native American Indians and Eclectic physicians to ease anxiety and stress. In the Eclectic herbal tradition, skullcap extract was recommended for two specific indications: “The first is where there is irritability of the nervous system, with restlessness and nervous excitability; inability to sleep without pain; general irritability with insomnia from local physical causes. The second is where there is a nervous disorder, characterized by irregular muscular action, twitching, tremors, and restlessness, with or without incoordination.”

Skullcap has a soothing influence on the nervous system, encouraging quiet relaxation and restful sleep without sedation. Combined with Avena sativa, it is the classic nervine duo for calming, tonifying, and regenerating the entire nervous system, specifically for twitching and tremors.[50]

Scutellaria lateriflora extract significantly enhanced global mood without a reduction in energy or cognition. Further study assessing its putative anxiolytic effects in notably anxious subjects with co-morbid depression is warranted.[51]

8. Ginkgo biloba (Companion Adaptogen)

Picture of  Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a Chinese tree used to treat heart and lung conditions.

Flavonoids, ginkgolic acid, and terpenoids are three of the most common constituents in G. Biloba.[52]

Long-term use of Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) was found to prevent the loss of dopaminergic nerve terminals and have other positive neurological effects in several different studies.[53] [54] [55]

9. Hypericum Perforatum, aka St. John’s Wort (Companion Adaptogen) 

Picture of Hypericum Perforatum
Hypericum perforatum

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been used in herbal medicine for centuries.

I consider it a profound neurological adaptogen. This is one of the most amazing herbs for treating Parkinson’s disease. It is a powerful stress reliever, mood protector, and mood elevator. It is a restorative plant that repairs nerve tissue damage. Unlike other herbs to treat Parkinson’s disease, St. John’s wort has been extensively researched, especially for its anti-depressive effects.[56]

St. John’s wort contains naphthodianthrones, phloroglucinols, flavonoids, and essential oils. All these active ingredients have antioxidative and neuroprotective properties.[57],[58]

Diagram of St. John’s wort's many antidepressant actions

St. John’s wort has many antidepressant actions. These may be from the unitive effect of several compounds, including hyperforin, the hypercines, amentoflavon, rutin, hyperosid, xanthones, and proanthocyanidines.[59]

 10. Centella Asiatica, aka Gotu Cola (Secondary Adaptogen)

Picture of  Centella Asiatica
Centella asiatica

Gotu cola is a medicinal herb that helps with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, and mental and physical weariness.

Bornyl acetate, α-pinene, β-pinene, and δ-terpinene are all monoterpenes found in the leaves of this plant.[60],[61]

Acetylcholinesterase activity was shown to be inhibited by these monoterpenes.[62]

For thousands of years, Centella asiatica was eaten as a “rejuvenating herb”,taken to revitalize the nervous system and enhance memory.

Studies have shown that the whole extract and individual compounds of Centella asiatica protect against various neurological diseases.

Its neuroprotective effects have been found to help people who have Alzheimer’s disease,[63] Parkinson’s disease, learning and memory problems, neurotoxicity, and other mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, and epilepsy.[64] [65]

11. Tinospora cordifolia (Secondary Adaptogen)

Considered a stress-protective adaptogen, T. cordifolia has a variety of positive health effects. It can help with diabetes, glucose metabolism, inflammation, immune and neurological support.[66],[67]

It also has anti-inflammatory properties, is effective against stress, and promotes learning and memory.

It also has significant antioxidant and anti-Parkinson effects.[68]

12.Resveratrol (Companion Adaptogen)

Picture of Japanese Knotweed
(Polygonum cuspidatum),
Richest known source of resveratrol
Japanese Knotweed
(Polygonum cuspidatum),
Richest known source of resveratrol

Resveratrol is a polyphenolic compound present in a variety of plants, including grapes and berries.[69]

Resveratrol can influence multiple inflammatory and non-inflammatory responses, protecting organs and tissues.[70]

This compound has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-apoptotic, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, anticancer, and antiviral properties.

Schematic image of the action of resveratrol in cell

Furthermore, resveratrol can help with motor deficits, oxidative stress, and the loss of neurons in animal models of Parkinson’s disease.[71] [72]

13. Curcuma longa, aka Turmeric (Companion Adaptogen)

Picture of Curcuma Longa
Curcuma longa

If you’ve read any of my articles, you probably already know I love turmeric. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has long been used in India and other countries in a variety of ways, including as a coloring agent, a medicine to cleanse the body, and a spice to flavor and preserve food.

Curcuma longa has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, chemotherapeutic, redox/antioxidant, wound-healing, anti-proliferative and antiparasitic properties.

Diagram of Curcumin and how it alleviates aging symptoms and postpones the progression of age-related diseases in which cellular senescence is directly involved


Curcumin alleviates aging symptoms and postpones the progression of age-related diseases in which cellular senescence is directly involved.

Overview of the impact of curcumin on aging and age-related diseases

Diagram of Overview of the impact of curcumin on aging and age-related diseases


It also has neuroprotective properties and reduces lipid peroxide levels while increasing glutathione levels when taken orally.[75]

The ability of curcumin to exhibit neuroprotection against PD is related to its antioxidant capabilities and its capability to penetrate the brain.[76]

This is one of my favorite herbs, and even if you aren’t suffering from PD, turmeric is a food I recommend you add to your daily diet.

14. Quercetin

Quercetin, one of the major flavonoids in plants, has been recently reported to have neuroprotective effects against neurodegenerative processes.

It’s a candidate for treating nervous system illnesses because of its protective role against oxidative damage and neuroinflammation. It acts on several molecular signals, including ion channels, neuroreceptors, and inflammatory receptor signaling, and it also regulates neurotrophic and anti-oxidative signaling molecules.

Diagram of how Quercetin, resveratrol, and curcumin work synergistically to help slow aging.[78]


Quercetin, resveratrol, and curcumin work synergistically to help slow aging.[78]

15. Camellia sinensis (green tea) (Companion Adaptogen)

Picture of Camellia Sinensis
Camellia sinensis

Drinking two or more cups of green tea daily is associated with a reduced risk of all neurodegenerative diseases by more than one-half.[79] Green tea polyphenols are potent chemo-preventive agents that curb neurodegeneration by inhibiting NK-kappa beta (a pro-inflammatory protein), reducing oxidative neuron damage, reducing heavy metals,and enhancing oxygen uptake.[80]

Black tea can also be helpful. Consider this: A study examining the effects of black tea found that drinking at least 23 cups a month, or about three-quarters of a cup a day, reduced the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 71%.

Keep in mind that the benefits of black tea were not linked to its caffeine content but to other ingredients, namely the polyphenols.[81]

Does Drinking Tea Help Anti-Parkinson’s Drugs Work Better?

Tea and other dietary polyphenols are shown to provide relief to the disease syndromes and provide neuroprotection in cellular and animal models of PD. In addition, according to recent research,[82] epidemiological studies in specific populations of the world support habitual tea drinking to reduce the risk of PD.

16. Ginger, aka Zingiber officinale (Companion Adaptogen)

Picture of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a popular spice used as a medicinal herb worldwide. Its use in helping humans overcome a wide range of conditions, including nausea, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and cancer, dates to Antiquity.

Recent research supports the idea that ginger has neuroprotective effects and is one of the herbs to treat Parkinson’s disease that those suffering from PD might want to include in their arsenal.

Ginger works by regulating neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, intestinal permeability, dopamine synaptic transmission, and possibly mitochondrial dysfunction.[83]

These sixteen non-toxic plants are all extremely helpful herbs scientifically shown to benefit those with Parkinson’s disease. An evidence-based science-forward natural treatment plan can complement conventional drugs, help people suffering mitigate their symptoms, and bring clarity back to the aging brain.

Related Articles:

Health Optimization and Adaptogens

Quercetin to the Rescue for Vaccine-Enhanced Disease
Turmeric: Nature’s Anti-Inflammatory

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