Parkinson's Disease and NPH


The discovery of Parkinson's disease (PD) is attributed to James Parkinson in 1817 when he called it shaking palsy. But Parkinson didn't really discover the condition and it didn't just suddenly appear in 1817. The condition actually goes back hundreds if not thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Aryuvedic Medicine from India.

discoverer of parkinsons disease

The Chinese character for shaking is wind so Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors referred to Parkinson's disease as a wind condition which is the same as calling it a shaking condition.

The number of people afflicted with Parkinson's disease (PD) in the United States alone is estimated to be somewhere between half a million to a million and a half. Despite decades and billions of dollars in research, however, the numbers are actually increasing. What is more alarming, is that there has been a significant increase in the incidence of early onset Parkinson's.

Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and NPH

PD shares a peculiar relationship with Alzhiemer's disease in that both can progress and develop similar signs and symptoms. Many years ago I discovered that they also share an association with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). There weren't enough brain scans when I started my research, now they are plentiful and the evidence is starting to mount about the connection between chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) and NPH in Parkinson's. Upright brain scans will be the wave of the future.

In addition to the role of CCSVI and NPH in PD, I believe PD is also associated with Chiari malformations. The cause of CCSVI, Chiari malformations and NPH is most likely the result of inherited genetic design problems in the drainage system of the brain. The other most likely cause is due to acquired disorders and degenerative conditions of the cervical spine, especially the upper cervical spine and base of the skull.

Primary Parkinson's Disease

Currently primary PD is attributed to a decrease in dopamine production on the part of the substantia nigra. The reason for the decrease in dopamine production, however, is unknown. Supposedly the substantia nigra just goes bad one day and stops producing the way it should. But what causes such a small and highly localized area of the brainstem to suddenly start to go bad while the rest of the brain, for the most part, is working fine?

substantia nigra in the brain stem

The picture in the upper left corner above is a sagittal (side view) of the brain stem with a cross section removed and layed out in the main picture. In this picture the substantia nigra (long grey area on either side of the cross section) is actually part of a system of interconnecting nerve centers, called the basal ganglia, and a router called the thalamus located in the core of the brain and brainstem that fine tunes the coordination of the movement of muscles. The basal ganglia take in and process information from different hard drives in the brain, called lobes, which among others include the motor and premotor cortex of the frontal lobe. The motor cortex sends the commands out for movement and the premotor cortex provides stored programs for that particular movement such as riding a bike or throwing a ball.

dopamine, brain neurotransmitters

For another perspective the picture above is a coronal view (looking at the back of the head and removing a slice in the middle of the brain from top to bottom and from side to side. The first three structures listed are part of the basal ganglia and the substantia nigra and thalamus are also shown.

Memories of motor activities, however, reside in all the lobes of the brain, not just the motor cortex. The brain pictures riding a bike in the occipital lobes, at the rear of the brain, and stores long term memory of things about riding a bike in the temporal lobes, located on either side of the brain next to the ears, such as watch out for potholes and roads are slippery when wet. The parietal lobes, above the top of the ears, integrate and associate the information from smell, sight, sound, taste and touch. Some western athletes and all eastern martial arts use Zen visualization techniques, such as watching videos and mental imaging, to stimulate the occipital lobe to train muscles without using them.

Muscle movement requires fast timing and ultrahigh speed components. Consequently, in contrast to most of the brain, the interconnecting system of the basal ganglia uses a high speed neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

The grey matter of the brain is for processing and integrating information and uses slower speed neurotranmitters such as dopamine. The substantia nigra also uses dopamine. We are now finding out that there is much more to dopamine than simply muscle movements and tremors. Among other things, it appears to play a role in long term memory.

The role of the substantia nigra and it's neurotransmitter dopamine is to take the rough edges off movement by slowing down and smoothing out muscle activity which prevents overexcitation and tremors.

substantia nigra in brain

Again, the picture above shows the substantia nigra in blue on the brainstem and other structures of the basal ganglia.

The thalamus is the top of the brainstem which is located in the core of the brain and is extremely complex. But one of its primary roles is to serve as a router for distributing information about muscle movement to the different hard drives of the brain. The hypothalamus sits below the thalamus and also appears to play a role in muscle movement.

In contrast to the substantia nigra, which when malfunctioning produces resting tremors as seen in Parkinson's, injuries to the hypothalamus appear to play a role in wild, erratic, exaggerated tremors such as those seen in Huntington's Disease. Interestingly, Huntington's disease is similar to PD in many ways and will be discussed separately on this website.

Secondary Parkinson's Disease

Secondary PD is due to other causes rather than a decrease in dopamine production. It can be due to a decrease in the effect of dopamine on its target nerves. Secondary PD can also be caused by toxins such as, but not limited to, pesticides, excess manganese, alchohol, certain types of blood pressure medicine such as reserpine, psychotropic drugs and recreational drugs.

Secondary PD can also be caused by tumors and infarcts (dead tissue in the brain). It has always been associated with boxing, which used to be called pugilistic PD. For further information on this subject go to Parkinsons, dementia and neck injuries.

Parkinson's and NPH

Decades ago, I suspected that PD was most likely due to venous drainage issues and NPH similar to Alzheimer's. Among other things, CCSVI from back pressure against the venous drainage system of the brain can decrease the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure gradient and subsequent production of CSF. A decrease in the passive production of CSF would result in a decrease in CSF volume in the brain during upright posture. This could cause the brainstem to sink into the foramen magnum, which is called a pressure conus or Chiari condition.

Pressure conus and Chari conditions, in turn plug venous drainage outlets in the basement of the brain resulting in CCSVI. They also compress CSF pathways, resulting in impaired and sluggish CSF flow and subsequent NPH.

Chiari, NPH and Compression of The Substantia Nigra

The cerebellum and brainstem sit in what is called the posterior fossa (back of the skull). The foramen magnum lies on the floor of the posterior fossa. The brainstem lies parallel to and along the angle of what is called the clivus, which unites the occipital bone of the posterior fossa with the sphenoid bone in the middle fossa above, which is also part of the base of the skull. These structures are shown below in a sagittal view (the skull sliced in half from the front to back.)

bent base of cranium

The posterior fossa is covered by dura mata called the tentorium cerebelli, which means the tent of the cerebellum. In addition to a large portion of the brainstem, the posterior fossa also contains the cerebellum and most of the cranial nerves. The tentorium cerebelli separates the contents of the posterior fossa from the rest of the brain in the anterior and middle fossas above.

The picture below shows a coronal view of posterior brain compartments and the foramen magnum at the base.

compartments of the brain

Chiari conditions result in compression of the brainstem against the rim of the foramen magnum. Flexion type strains of the cervical spine, in which the head is in a position forward of the preferred perpendicular postural gravity line, traction the cord and brainstem toward the front edge of the foramen magnum. Normally, looking at person from the side, the mastoid bone behind the ear should line up over the malleoli (outside bone) of the ankle.

chiari malformation

The picture above is a sagittal view of the lower brain, brainstem, skull and cervical spine. This picture shows the relationship of the brain stem to the foramen magnum which is immediately above the cervical spine.

A Parkinson's patient's posture is stooped due to the areas of the brain impacted on.

man with Parkinson's

The substantia nigra is located in the pons area on the belly side of the brainstem making it equally susceptible to compression, Interesingly, the periaqueductal grey also lies nearby and plays a role in the freeze reflex, which could explain the frozen facial expressions and cogwheel rigidity-type movement seen in PD.

It is my opinion that CCSVI causes NPH and Chiari type conditions resulting in compression of the area of the brainstem that contains the substantia nigra. Furthermore, CSF entrapment from NPH can also cause increased pressure in the fourth ventricle which compresses important structures in the cerebellum such as the flocculonodular lobe.

The flocculonodular lobe is one of oldest parts of the brain in vertebrate evolution. Among other things, it controls truncal muscles related to posture, movement and balance and may play a role in stooped posture, rigidity of truncal muscles, problems with walking and loss of balance.

A variant of Parkinson's disease of multisystem atrophy and is covered on a separate page.

Other pages of interest to the Parkinson's page are cerebrospinal fluid, cerebellum, hyperintensity signals and diffuse hyperintensity signals.

Return to Home Page From Parkinson's Disease

Reply to Parkinson's Page

Reply to this page.

[ ? ]

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

(You can preview and edit on the next page)

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Would be helpful If you addressed ways to relieve the pressure . . . Exercise, inversion tables , surgery

creation of parkinson's 
Simply put Parkinson's is 100% VALUE based issue. It is created by the individual themselves. The procedure to remove such a value is not available to …

Back in the 1980's the Economy was in a down turn like now was forced to take any work I could find. At the age of 23 was working for one of Seattle's …

Lay person with a husband that has Parkinson's 
I am not replying but asking a question and didn't know where to go on your website to do this so I'm asking here. My husband has, as I mentioned, …

link to long-term marijuana use? 
My brother who is now 61 has PD. There has never been any history of PD in our family. My brother was a long-term marijuana user (over 40 years). I …

Parkinson,s disease 
Symptoms should be more explained

Best write-up of it's kind online! 
THANK YOU! Concise, brilliantly lucid. You're a gifted teacher.

Click here to write your own.

Privacy Policy



This book analyzes the causes of how and why some people are afflicted with neurodegenerative disease of the brain. To see more about the book click here for information and/or to make a purchase.


Alzheimer's Disease
Arachnoid Granulations
Basal Ganglia
Body Building
Brain Anatomy
Brain Cooling and the Cranial Veins
Cerebellar Tonsillar Ectopia Race and Gender
Cerebrospinal Fluid
Cervical Spine and Cord
Cervical Spondylosis
and Neurodegenerative Disease

Chiari Malformations
Chiari Diagnosis and Treatment
Chiropractic Upper Cervical
Cranial Nerves
Cysts, Syrinxes and CSF
Diffuse Hyperintensity Signals
Dysautonomia, Cerebellar Signs and Multisystem Atrophy
Ehlers Danlos
Foramen Magnum
The Fourth Ventricle
Hyperintensity Signals
Lateral Ventricles
Limbic System
Martial Arts
Multiple Sclerosis
MS Lesions
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment
Neurovascular Tunnels
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
Optic Neuritis
Orthogonal Corrective Care
Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's, Dementia and Neck Injuries
Pelvic Anatomy
Physical Anthropology
The Pituitary Gland and Hypothalamus
Posterior Fossa and Chiari Malformation
Racial Skull Design
Site Search
Skull Anatomy
Skull Base
Skull Deformation and Correction
Skull Diploe
Skull Shape
Spinal Cord Diseases
Spine Anatomy
Spine Injuries
Substantial Nigra
Tethered Cord
Third Ventricle
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Tonsillar Ectopia and Chiari Malformations
Treatments and Cures
The Upper Cervical Angle
Upper Cervical Strain
Venous Inversion Flows and Skull Shape
Vertebral Arteries
Vertebral Veins