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China Daily Website

Caffeine may serve as treatment option for Parkinson's

Updated: 2012-08-03 17:16

A new study has found that caffeine may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson's disease, opening the door to new treatment options for the disease, local media reported Thursday.

The study, conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center, was recently published in Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The researchers followed a group of 61 people with Parkinson's. While the control group received a placebo pill, the other group received a dose of caffeine that was the equivalent of between two and four cups of coffee per day for six weeks.

People who received caffeine supplements experienced an improvement in their motor symptoms over those who received the placebo, which was due to improvement in speed of movement and a reduction in stiffness, according to author of the study Dr. Ronald Postuma.

Although larger-scale studies need to be carried out over a longer period to clarify these caffeine-related improvements, Dr. Postuma said that 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," Dr. Postuma said.

Caffeine, which is widely consumed around the world in coffee, tea and soft drinks, 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, the researchers said.