Coffee May Hold Hope for Parkinson’s Patients

Millions have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and each one is looking for a cure or some type of treatment that can help ease the symptoms of the disease. There has been ongoing research in an effort to find a solution for Parkinson’s disease, and a new study may have gotten patients even a little bit closer.

As reported by FoxNews, a Canadian study found people with Parkinson’s disease who took caffeine pills saw an improvement in movement problems related to the disease. The new study is small compared to other Parkinson’s disease studies with 61 Parkinson’s patients participating. Those in the study were in their mid-60s and followed for six weeks.

For the first three weeks participants were given 100mg caffeine pills or similar drug-free placebo pills in the morning and after lunch. During the last three weeks, researchers increased the caffeine and placebo pills to 200mg. After the study, participants saw improvements in movement problems.

However, there wasn’t a clear improvement in sleepiness. Lead researcher Dr. Ronald Postima, from McGill University in Montreal, commented on the findings, saying, “It’s a bit too early to say, ‘Everybody should be drinking coffee.'” There are still unanswered questions related to whether a patient can develop a tolerance to caffeine.

The findings may not be a breakthrough in medicine, but Dr. Postima said, “It’s not a massive difference,” but the findings “can have a real effect on people’s lives.” Dr. Postima goes on to say Levodopa (the main drug prescribed to Parkinson’s patients) has three to four times greater of a benefit than caffeine pills. Michael Schwarzschild, a neurologist from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, defends Levodopa and says the research is questionable, “This would not replace Levodopa by any means if it were more clearly demonstrated to help with the symptoms, but it’s not trivial either.”

People who drink caffeine throughout their life have a lower risk of getting Parkinson’s disease, but that does not mean coffee, tea, or soda have a direct effect on the disease. A cup of coffee has about 100mg of caffeine and a 12oz can of soda has about 30 to 50mg of caffeine. Depending on how a cup of black tea was brewed it can contain 25 to 110 mg of caffeine.

Does caffeine have an impact on Parkinson’s disease? According to Dr. Postima, “For the time being, it does look like it could be a useful thing for Parkinson’s disease. Time will tell.”

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