When the boxer Muhammed Ali lit the Olympic flame in 1996, he proved to the world that you don't need to be perfect in order to be great.

For some people, the sight of a champion ravaged by may have been disturbing but, for many, his courage and patience were inspiring.

Anyone suffering from Parkinson's requires such qualities, for it is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease leading to an increased loss of the ability to walk, eat and speak.

Symptoms include slowness of movement, trembling, rigid muscles and loss of balance. The disorder is more prevalent in the elderly but can strike anyone and is found all over the world.

In the UK alone, there are more than 120,000 suffer-ers, with 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

Although scientists believe genetic susceptibility is involved, exact causes are unknown and thought to be diverse.

One reason for impaired muscle control may be a deficiency of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter manufactured by nerve cells in the brain.

Insufficient production of dopamine could be due to the cell degeneration, faulty metabolism, dietary factors, enzyme malfunction, free-radical destruction, environmental toxicity, genes or even drugs.

Worryingly, Parkinson's disease seems to be on the increase and there are fears that chronic exposure to environmental chemicals may be one of the main contributory factors.

So far, treatment has been based mainly on drug therapy.

However, a unique multi-disciplinary approach to the management of Parkinson's has been pioneered by Dr Geoffrey Leader and Lucille Leader at The London Pain Relief and Nutritional Support Clinic.

The clinic can be found at The London Welbeck Hospital and promotes strategies to optimise psychologicalteam of specialists, each supporting a different aspect of Parkinson's disease.

Thereare recommendations for those on L-dopa medication and those who are not, as well as simple, tasty recipes compatible with medication.

Designed for patients and carers as well as their physicians and other healthcare professionals, it provides helpful practical strategies and a positive approach to difficult problem.