In an article published online on August 1, 2012 in the journal Neurology®, Canadian researchers report a benefit for caffeine in movement control in men and women with Parkinson's disease.
Ronald Postuma, MD of the Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre and his associates divided 61 Parkinson's disease patients to receive a placebo or 100 milligrams caffeine twice per day for three weeks, followed by 200 milligrams twice daily (equal to the amount of caffeine found in two to four cups of coffee) for three additional weeks. Daytime sleepiness (a common complaint in Parkinson's disease), nighttime sleep quality, movement, depression and quality of life were evaluated before and after treatment. "We wanted to discover how caffeine could impact sleepiness as well as the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease, such as slowness of movement, muscle stiffness, shaking and loss of balance," Dr Postuma explained.
While daytime sleepiness improved only slightly, participants who received caffeine experienced a significant improvement in movement. "The people who received caffeine supplements experienced an improvement in their motor symptoms (a five-point improvement on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, a rating scale used to measure the severity of the disease) over those who received the placebo," Dr Postuma stated. "This was due to improvement in speed of movement and a reduction in stiffness."
"This is one of the first studies to show the benefits of caffeine on motor impairment in people who have Parkinson's disease," he announced. "Research has already shown that people who drink coffee have a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease, but until now no study had looked at the immediate clinical implications of this finding."
"Caffeine should be explored as a treatment option for Parkinson's disease," Dr Postuma concluded. "It may be useful as a supplement to medication and could therefore help reduce patient dosages."
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