Two cups of coffee a day could help relieve shakes caused by Parkinson’s disease
06:52 GMT, 2 August 2012
A new study has shown coffee helps reduce the shakes of Parkinson's Disease
A study of more than 60 patients has found those given caffeine supplements experienced an improvement in symptoms for Parkinson's disease.
Scientists trialling the substance say just a couple of cups of coffee a day can relieve the shakes associated with the disease.
Patients given caffeine averaged a five-point improvement in symptoms compared to those given a placebo.
Professor Ronald Postuma, of McGill University in Montreal, said: 'This is a modest improvement but may be enough to provide benefit to patients.
'On the other hand it may not be sufficient to explain the relationship between caffeine non-use and Parkinson’s since studies of the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms early in the disease suggest a five-point reduction would delay diagnosis by only six months.'
Previous research published three years ago showed people who drank two or three cups of coffee-a-day regularly were 25 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson’s.
A similar study around the same time also suggested the drink could protect against developing Alzheimer’s.
Professor Postuma and his colleagues said while caffeine does not appear to help improve sleepiness among people with Parkinson’s it may have a benefit in controlling movement.
He said: 'Studies have shown people who use caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease but this is one of the first studies in humans to show caffeine can help with movement symptoms for people who already have the disease.'
A similar study suggests coffee could protect against Alzheimers
Participants with symptoms of daytime sleepiness and some motor symptoms were given either a placebo or a pill with 100 milligrams of caffeine two times a day for three weeks and then 200 milligrams twice a day for three weeks.
This was the equivalent of between two and four cups of coffee per day, said the researchers whose findings are published online in Neurology.
After six weeks the half that took the caffeine supplements averaged a five-point improvement in Parkinson’s severity ratings compared to those who didn’t.
The caffeine group also averaged a three-point improvement in the speed of movement and amount of stiffness compared to the others.
But caffeine did not seem to improve daytime tiredness and there were no changes in their quality of life, depression or sleep.
Professor Michael Schwarzschild, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who reviewed the research for the journal, said: 'The study is especially interesting since caffeine seems to block a malfunctioning brain signal in Parkinson’s disease and is so safe and inexpensive.
'Although the results do not suggest caffeine should be used as a treatment in Parkinson’s disease they can be taken into consideration when people with Parkinson’s are discussing their caffeine use with their neurologist.'
The researchers said the length of the study was short and the effects of caffeine may lessen over time.