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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Your Local Drug Dealer

If you have Parkinson's disease, you should get to know your friendly drug dealer, also known as your pharmacist. They know more about Parkinson's medications, side effects, as well as food, drug and supplement interactions than even the best Movement Disorder Specialist. Why? Because that's their job.

A local pharmacist named Kirti spoke to our Parkinson's support group. He used words we could all understand and even had a sense of humor. Who knew pharmacists could be funny? They always look so serious behind those partitions. Or maybe they are just working hard. 

Even I learned a few things. (I know you can't believe it. I was surprised too.)

During the question and answer part of his presentation, a lady asked if medications could cause brain fog. He repeated her question so everyone could hear it, using the microphone, but he said brain fart instead. The lady blushed and quickly corrected him. Then he blushed and everyone started giggling like first-graders. (We always try to laugh at our meetings.) 

Another lady asked about calcium supplements for osteoporosis and PD med interactions. He said, do not take more than 600mg of calcium at one time because your body cannot absorb more than that. Also, be sure to spread the doses out during the day. Buying those 1200mg tablets is wasting your money. 

He also stated that many minerals found in supplements (calcium, magnesium, aluminum, iron) can bind to the carbi/levodopa (Sinemet) and may interfere with its absorption. So if that one particular dose of Parkie meds doesn't seem to work as well, did you take it with that multivitamin? It's best to use the two-hour rule: take minerals two-hours before or after taking your Parkie meds. 

Woman's multivitamin
Contains lots of minerals

I guess we better dig out our magnifying glasses and read the fine print on ALL the over-the-counter supplements we take.

A man complained of morning dizziness. He said he takes his Sinemet as soon as he wakes up and then feels lightheaded for an hour or so. The pharmacist explained that our heart rate and blood pressure drop while we sleep and the Sinemet may also cause a blood pressure drop, and that might be the cause of his dizziness. He suggested the man move around some and wait an hour or so before taking the Sinemet. If that doesn't work, tell your Parkie Doctor. 

Another lady complained about the high cost of one of her medicines. She said a one-month supply of rasagiline was over $600. The pharmacist whipped out his smartphone, used his app, and found her a price of $172 at Walmart. (One of his competitors.) has good prices as well. 

He also warned her to avoid foods with tyramine while taking rasagiline or selegiline. Foods like: cured, fermented, air dried meats and fish, aged cheeses, sauerkraut, kimchi, red wine and tap beer. There was an audible groan in the room, right after he said wine and beer. 

Someone else asked if there was a difference between Stalevo versus taking Sinemet and entacapone (Comtan.) He said the only difference is that with Stalevo, it's all in one pill and it costs more. (I'm really starting to like this guy.)

Another person asked about excess saliva and drooling. He said there is a drug that may help dry up the saliva, but that it may also cause constipation, which can already be a problem with Parkinson's. 

Someone asked how to get info if you use a mail-order pharmacy like or through the Veterans Administration? He said any pharmacist will gladly answer questions about any medications, including over the counter ones, even if you get them elsewhere. 

Then people began to ask about other non-Parkinson's related medications. Heck, while we had him captive, we might as well get all our questions answered. 

Finally, he was asked if he could recommend a local physician for Parkinson's treatment. His answer was "Just like all Parkinson's medications have side effects, so does living in Yuma. The weather is great, people are friendly, but limited access to specialists is the side effect."

Get to know your local drug dealer, they can answer your questions and who knows, they may even make you laugh.

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