A novel study just published in the journal Neurology has found that people with Parkinson’s disease given a daily dose of caffeine gained improvements in their movement symptoms.
Medical researchers have known for some time that people who drink coffee have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, but such observations cannot prove if there is a true link between the two. Because of how caffeine works in the body, scientists believe that it could have benefit in controlling some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as daytime lethargy and drowsiness as well as muscle effects of poor coordination, muscle soreness and shakiness.
Taking the idea a step further of using caffeine as a treatment option in people with Parkinson’s disease, medical scientists from McGill University in Montreal invited 61 people with Parkinson’s disease to take part in a small-scale clinical trial. Participants were randomly allocated to receive a placebo pill or 100 milligram caffeine tablet (equivalent to a strong cup of coffee) twice a day for 3 weeks and then increased to 200 milligrams twice a day for the following 3 weeks.
People who took the caffeine tablets had a borderline improvement in their symptoms of sleepiness during the day, with no change in reported feelings in depression of night time sleep quality. The big improvement seen in the caffeine group though was in motor symptoms, with a noticeable improvement in speed of movement and less muscle stiffness.
This first study looking at caffeine dosing and Parkinson’s disease has provided some interesting results which will fuel future research. The results certainly look promising and if validated in larger clinical studies, then caffeine could become a cheap and very safe treatment adjunct for some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.