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Caffeine may ease Parkinson's symptoms
[Posted: Thu 02/08/2012 by Gillian Tsoi www.irishhealth.com]
Caffeine, which is widely consumed around the world in coffee, tea and soft drinks, may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson's.
This is according to a study in Canada that opens the door to new treatment options for Parkinson's disease.
"This is one of the first studies to show the benefits of caffeine on motor impairment in people who have Parkinson's disease," stated Dr Ronald Postuma, lead author of the study and researcher in neurosciences at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC).
Caffeine-one of the most widely used psychomotor stimulants in the world-it acts on the central nervous system and cardiovascular system by temporarily decreasing tiredness and increasing alertness.
"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," said Dr Postuma, who is also a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University.
Sleepiness is commonly associated with Parkinson's disease, which is a disorder of the brain that leads to shaking (tremors) and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination.
"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," said Dr Postuma.
The researchers followed a group of 61 people with Parkinson's. While the control group received a placebo pill, the other group received a 100mg dose of caffeine twice a day for three weeks and then 200mg twice a day for another three weeks.
"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," said Dr Postuma.
"This was due to improvement in speed of movement and a reduction in stiffness."
Caffeine had only borderline effects on sleepiness, and did not affect depression or nighttime sleep quality in the study participants.
Larger-scale studies need to be carried out over a longer period to clarify these caffeine-related improvements. "Caffeine should be explored as a treatment option for Parkinson's disease. It may be useful as a supplement to medication and could therefore help reduce patient dosages," concluded Dr Postuma.
The study was published in Neurology®, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
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