Shy Drager Syndrome Responds to Alternative Medicine


Shy-Drager syndrome is a rare and progressive neurological condition that causes tremors when muscles are at rest, similar to Parkinson’s disease. While there is no cure for Shy-Drager syndrome, at least one healthcare practitioner has had success in treating the disease with alternative medicine methods.

Shy-Drager syndrome usually develops between the ages of 37 and 75, according to the Merck Manual, and it is more common among men. No treatment can cure the disorder, but symptoms can be relieved. Typically the drugs used to relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are not as effective in people who have Shy-Drager syndrome.

In addition to tremors, symptoms of Shy-Drager syndrome include bowel and bladder dysfunction, orthostatic hypotension (which can result in dizziness or momentary blackouts when standing or sitting up), muscle weakness, speech impairment, and breathing and swallowing difficulties.

Colet Lahoz, RN, MS, Lac, and founder of the East-West Clinic in Minnesota, has had success in treating Shy-Drager syndrome with alternative medicine techniques. Her approach includes acupuncture, which is used to fight inflammation, increase energy, support the immune system, and promote healing; herbal medicine, which includes herbal antifungals and probiotics; and nutritional medicine designed specifically to eliminate fungi and its toxins.

In her treatment of Shy-Drager syndrome, Ms. Lahoz has found that patients respond well to aggressive acupuncture therapy, which typically incorporates infrared heat, electrical stimulation (electro-acupuncture), massage, and moxibustion. Acupuncture treatment can include as many as 60 to 90 needles initially, with less needed as symptoms improve.


In a study of 32 patients (age range, 47 to 83) with Shy-Drager syndrome, 29 (90%) had a high score on the fungal index, a condition known as candidiasis or systemic fungal infection. Individuals who have high fungus levels, consumption of sugar creates a metabolic by-productt called acetaldehyde, which is extremely toxic to the central nervous system. Ms. Lahoz notes that this unrecognized and thus untreated fungal infection may possibly lead to the development of neurological diseases.

In her study, patients were placed on a special diet that excluded sweets, alcoholic beverages, dairy products, and all processed foods that contain yeast, sugar, or vinegar. A detoxification program was also initiated, that included caproyl, bentonite, psyllium powder, acidophilus (probiotics), grapefruit seed extract, pau d’arco (cat’s claw), and olive leaf extract, among others.

Thirty of the 32 patients experienced improvement in their symptoms. Patients showed varying degrees of improvement as early as two weeks after starting treatments and continued to gain improvement as long as they stayed with the program. This is an important finding since Shy-Drager syndrome is characterized by rapid deterioration, resulting in death usually within 7 to 10 years of diagnosis.

Patients in the study who were not taking prescription medications responded faster than those who were taking drugs. It was noted, for example, that patients who were not taking blood pressure medication experienced better results from the alternative treatments than those who were taking drugs for orthostatic hypotension.

Although the prognosis for Shy-Drager syndrome is dire, alternative medicine techniques have been shown to improve symptoms of the disease. In this study, patients who were not taking conventional medications responded better to alternative medicine approaches. Individuals who have Shy-Drager syndrome may want to consider an alternative to conventional medications in treatment of the disease.

Lahoz SC. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients 2005 May
Merck Manual