Caffeine as a health-enhancing substance continues to be on a therapeutic roll, as a new study suggests consumption may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson’s.
Investigators from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) have recently published their findings in the journal Neurology.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegernative disease in the United States, second only to Alzheimer’s. “This is one of the first studies to show the benefits of caffeine on motor impairment in people who have Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Ronald Postuma, lead author of the study.
“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 is one of the most widely used psychomotor stimulants in the world. Caffeine acts on the central nervous system and cardiovascular system by temporarily decreasing tiredness and increasing alertness.
Since a common symptom of PD is sleepiness, researchers decided to study the impact of caffeine on individuals with the condition.
“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.”
In the study, the researchers followed a group of 61 people with Parkinson’s.
While the control group received a placebo pill, the other group received a 100 mg dose of caffeine — equal to a single cup of coffee — twice a day for three weeks and then 200 mg (two cups of coffee) 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 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.
Researchers warn that 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,” Postuma said.
Source: McGill University Health Centre