October 16, 2015

John Pepper’s “Conscious Walking” Helps Parkinsonians. And We Can Help John Help Others.

When I was diagnosed with Parkinson's six years ago, I bought half a dozen books about the disease and spent hours doing research online. 

The result? I got so discouraged that I came very close to selling the house I love and moving into an assisted living residence. What I had read scared me into thinking that my progressive, degenerative disease would quickly force me into wheelchair, where I'd languish with a frozen mask for a face. I'd suffer the typical side effects of depression, insomnia, and constipation.

If only someone had persuaded me instead to buy and read one of John Pepper's books. In yesterday's post, I discussed the rigorous "conscious walking" program John developed. Because of that regimen, he now leads a relatively normal life and hasn't used any Parkinson's medication since 2002.

Retard, Even Reverse, the Symptoms
In 2003, John wrote a book about his journey through Parkinson's disease: his setbacks, achievements, discoveries, disappointments, and ultimate triumphs. He wanted his book to give other people with Parkinson's the hope that we, too, could slow down -- or even reverse -- some symptoms of the disease.

Now in its fourth edition, the book describes how PD patients willing to work hard are discovering just how much the human body -- including the brain -- can heal itself. John's main subject is strenuous exercise, especially conscious walking. But he offers advice about other issues we face, too.

By walking, bowling, and playing tennis, Pepper has regained his physical flexibility and balance. He keeps his mind sharp by reading, playing bridge, working puzzles and games.

Once a dedicated workaholic, he now sees the vital importance of a balanced life that includes healthy amounts of vacation, exposure to beauty, music, and contemplation.

John thinks people with Parkinson's are over-medicated with drug therapies, especially dopamine replacement. He thinks we underestimate our own power to facilitate healing through lifestyle changes.

Appendix One in Pepper’s book Reverse Parkinson’s Disease provides information about common symptoms of PD. I'll be looking particularly for his comments about dry mouth, constipation, mood swings, swallowing difficulties, frequent urges to urinate, insomnia, memory loss.... What the hell. I might as well read the whole thing.

Campaign to Help Others
John celebrates his 81st birthday this month. But that won't sidetrack him from his number one goal these days -- showing PD sufferers around the world how to overcome some of Parkinson's most troubling symptoms.

In the past few months, Pepper has met with Parkinsonians -- individuals and groups -- in England and the Netherlands.

I've read several reports on HealthUnlocked's Parkinson's forum from people who were inspired by John's presentations in England. Here's an example:
John Pepper is half way through his UK speaking tour. I have been lucky enough to have John and his wife stay with me for four days. Two mornings we walked together, he shouting '"swing those arms" and "heel, heel" at me! He walked a little slower than his normal pace so I could keep up, but we still walked 3 miles in under 50 minutes! His two speaking events this week each attracted 100 people who all left excited and inspired. What has struck me most about this man? For him Parkinson's is not an excuse. He works very long days, has endless energy, has determinedly worked to lessen or overcome every Parkinson's challenge he has faced and works tirelessly to help others do the same. He is a very warm and generous man. I will remember my time spent in his company for a very long time to come.
Norman Doidge, author of The Brain's Way of Healing, spent several weeks with Pepper in South Africa, and observed Pepper's work with Parkinsonians there. Doidge said:
He has been able to teach others to walk faster, more freely, to swing their arms and to shed their shuffle and stoop in a matter of minutes, as I saw on several occasions.
Doidge also hooked up with Pepper again recently to work on a documentary scheduled for release later this year. Among other things, the film will show John doing his conscious walking.

John Could Use Some Help to Help Others
Next year, John intends to take his message around the world. He describes his hopes and plans in these email excerpts:
At my age (81 in October) I don't have too much time left to do all this. I live in South Africa, where there is no old age pension for people who own a house. I therefore have to live on my savings. There is obviously a limit on how much I can spend on getting from here to Europe to the USA and Canada where so many people are anxious to learn how they can use their conscious brain to control their movements.
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I know that many people with Pd are unable to work and battle financially, so I don’t charge for what I do. But I do need to have some help to pay for the travelling costs, which I have to pay up-front. However, my trip to England and Holland showed me that people are very generous in their financial help. I recovered every cent of my airfare and most of my out-of pocket expenses. Considering that I enjoy travelling and was entertained royally, I do expect to pay for my pleasures. The next leg of my travels is going to take 3 or 4 months to do. It depends on how many cities I have to visit in the USA. I am definitely visiting you in Washington, so don’t think I won’t come there.
Suggestions for Helping John Help Others
While we await details about his trip, here are two things you might consider doing to help John:
  1. If you want to order John's Reverse Parkinson's Disease book -- which I urge you to do -- use his website, not Amazon. It costs $15 there, and the price includes shipping. The Amazon paperback costs $18.67, and its cover doesn't have that lovely photo of John. OK, the Kindle version is $9.99, but reading it will cost you your sleep.
  2. You can make a donation at John's fundraising website. He writes, "I will give a report of where and on what I have spent the money raised."


Anonymous said...

john writes : "I am the only Pd patient, that I know of, who has managed to reverse many of his/her movement symptoms. I am also the only patient, that I know of, who has not had to take any Pd medication anymore. For the past 11 years I have not needed to take any medication for my Pd. ". More recently people have written in support of John's a approach after following it a few months, is that not just the benefits of exercise? How come no one else has managed to be symptom and medication free after all this time?

Anonymous said...

Every PD patient is different, in some way(s) from every other PD patient.

That said, John's program requires diligence to a degree that many will not accept or follow, as they seek very quick resolution, which it does not provide....it takes a LOT of work and concentration to get it going well, and then keep it going.

The reward is very well worth it, but, even if they still have the physical ability to do it, not everyone has the degree of determination they need to reach as deeply inward as necessary, to see what his/her own body can do ...., and then keep on doing it.