Levodopa is, to this day, the most effective drug for treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, mainly rigidity and slowness of movement.
Levodopa is absorbed at the intestinal level and transported through the bloodstream to the brain. Once in the brain, it is transformed into dopamine and stored in nerve cells in order to replace the missing dopamine. Levodopa is always combined with another molecule, carbidopa in Sinemet® and benserazide in Prolopa®, allowing a greater quantity of levodopa to enter the brain.
Levodopa is usually ingested in the form of tablets. Its maximum effect is obtained 30 to 60 minutes after taking it. You should not take it alongside proteins (ex: dairy products, eggs, meat, soy, nuts, peas) that can limit its absorption. Its duration of actions varies from person to person and the progression of their disease. It varies from two hours to a couple of hours.
You can get the most out of your treatment by following a few simple tips.
Once the optimal dose has been found to treat your symptoms (ex: 2 tablets of 25/100 each time), this dose will generally not be increased over time. However, the frequency with which your treatment is administered during the day will increase in conjunction with the degeneration of neurons. This increase is not linked to your body adapting to the repeated administrations of the drug.
Levodopa induces nausea which can be managed by taking the tablets with non-protein foods (ex: crackers, applesauce), by increasing very gradually the doses, or by separating said doses from that of other drugs and medication. It can also cause drops in pressure when going from a sitting or a lying position to standing up.
When the drug starts to kick in (approximately 30 minutes after taking it), or if the dose is too high, you could experience dyskinesia, which are involuntary, non-stereotypic, anarchic, random, sudden and irregular movements of short duration affecting all or part of the body, present while resting or moving.
After a couple of years, the effect of levodopa can fluctuate throughout the day. This phenomenon in which the medication is not working optimally, known as an “off” period, returns you to a state in which your symptoms are no longer under control. You need to report these situations to your neurologist.
Levodopa can also be administered through a pump directly in the small intestine (DuodopaTM). This method of constant administration allows for a decrease in efficacy fluctuations throughout the day.