A cup of joe may help some Parkinson's disease symptoms

August 1, 2012

While drinking caffeine each day does not appear to help improve sleepiness among people with Parkinson's disease, it may have a benefit in controlling movement, according to new research published in the August 1, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology .

"Studies have shown that people who use caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, but this is one of the first studies in humans to show that caffeine can help with movement symptoms for people who already have the disease," said study author Ronald Postuma, MD, MSc, with McGill University in Montreal and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center. Postuma is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, 61 people with Parkinson's disease who showed symptoms of daytime sleepiness and some motor symptoms were given either a or a pill with 100 milligrams of caffeine two times a day for three weeks, then 200 milligrams twice a day for three weeks, which was the equivalent of between two and four cups of coffee per day.

After six weeks, the half that took the caffeine supplements averaged a five-point improvement in Parkinson's severity ratings compared to those who didn't consume caffeine. "This is a modest improvement, but may be enough to provide benefit to patients. On the other hand, it may not be sufficient to explain the relationship between caffeine non-use and Parkinson's, since studies of the progression of Parkinson's symptoms early in the disease suggest that a five-point reduction would delay diagnosis by only six months," said Postuma.

The caffeine group also averaged a three-point improvement in the speed of movement and amount of compared to the . Caffeine did not appear to help improve and there were no changes in , depression or sleep quality in .

"The study is especially interesting since caffeine seems to block a malfunctioning brain signal in Parkinson's disease and is so safe and inexpensive," said Michael Schwarzschild, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who wrote an accompanying editorial. "Although the results do not suggest that caffeine should be used as a treatment in Parkinson's disease, they can be taken into consideration when people with Parkinson's are discussing their caffeine use with their neurologist." Schwarzschild is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study authors noted that the length of the study was short and that the effects of caffeine may lessen over time.

Explore further: Can consuming caffeine while breastfeeding harm your baby?

Related Stories

Can consuming caffeine while breastfeeding harm your baby?

February 21, 2012
Babies are not able to metabolize or excrete caffeine very well, so a breastfeeding mother's consumption of caffeine may lead to caffeine accumulation and symptoms such as wakefulness and irritability, according to an interview ...

People with Parkinson's more likely to have leg restlessness than restless leg syndrome

November 9, 2011
People with Parkinson's disease may be more likely to have a movement disorder called leg motor restlessness, but not true restless legs syndrome as previous studies have suggested, according to a study published in the Nov. ...

Does caffeine enhance exercise performance? The debate continues

December 14, 2011
Caffeine is regarded by some as being a potent stimulant, but the debate continues as to whether it enhances exercise performance. A range of expert opinions capture the scope of this ongoing debate in an informative roundtable ...

Recommended for you

Singing may be good medicine for Parkinson's patients

August 11, 2017
(HealthDay)—Singing? To benefit people with Parkinson's disease? It just may help, a researcher says.

Tracing the path of Parkinson's disease proteins

August 4, 2017
As neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease progress, misfolded proteins clump together in neurons, recruiting normal proteins in the cell to also misfold and aggregate. Cells in which this ...

Diabetes drug shows potential as disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson's disease

August 3, 2017
A drug commonly used to treat diabetes may have disease-modifying potential to treat Parkinson's disease, a new UCL-led study suggests, paving the way for further research to define its efficacy and safety.

Two new studies offer insights into gastrointestinal dysfunction in Parkinson's patients

July 31, 2017
Constipation is one of the most common non-motor related complaints affecting Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. Two important studies from the same research group published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease expand the ...

New drug may treat and limit progression of Parkinson's disease

July 31, 2017
Researchers at Binghamton University have developed a new drug that may limit the progression of Parkinson's disease while providing better symptom relief to potentially hundreds of thousands of people with the disease.

A new insight into Parkinson's disease protein

July 28, 2017
Abnormal clumps of certain proteins in the brain are a prominent feature of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, but the role those same proteins might play in the normal brain has been unknown.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.