Caffeine as a Parkinson's Treatment

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Studies have found that individuals who drink coffee have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, but new research shows that caffeine can also help control movement in people who have this disease. The study involved 61 Parkinson’s patients. The control group was given a placebo and the test group was given 100 mg of caffeine twice a day (upon awakening and then after lunch) for three weeks. Then the dosage was bumped up to 200 mg twice a day (again upon awakening and after lunch) for another three weeks. (For reference, a cup of brewed coffee typically has about 100 mg of caffeine.)

There were no changes in the placebo group. Those who received the caffeine, however, experienced a noticeable improvement in their motor symptoms. On the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, which is used to rate the severity of the disease, they experienced a five-point improvement. Both speed of movement and a reduction in stiffness were noted. 

While a five-point change isn’t terribly dramatic, it is positive and definitely noticeable to a Parkinson’s patient. The primary drug prescribed for Parkinson’s is levodopa, and it often produces a 15-point improvement. Caffeine can be used in conjunction with the medication, and it is inexpensive. You can buy caffeine tablets at most stores and pharmacies, or you can get a good dose by simply drinking a cup or two of coffee.

Caffeine isn’t a cure for Parkinson’s disease, but more and more research supports the idea that it may help prevent the problem. Now this study shows that, at the same dosage routinely consumed by many coffee drinkers, caffeine can be an inexpensive form of treatment. 

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