A coffee a day for people with Parkinson's?
2 August 2012
New research suggests that caffeine may produce slight but
noticeable improvements in movement symptoms for people with
While these new results are interesting, it's still far too soon to say that everyone with Parkinson's should be drinking coffee.
Dr Kieran Breen, our director of research
small study, published yesterday in the journal Neurology was
carried out by a Canadian research team.
They found that taking caffeine pills produced modest
improvements in movement for people with Parkinson's.
What the study found
In the study, 61 people with Parkinson's were randomly assigned
to take either caffeine pills or identical drug-free placebo pills
over a 6-week period.
The people taking caffeine took 100 milligrams twice a day for
the first 3 weeks. This increased to 200 milligrams twice a day for
the rest of the study.
For comparison, a cup of brewed coffee typically contains
about 100 milligrams of caffeine.
After the study period, the caffeine group had improved slightly
on an overall scale of Parkinson's symptoms, including on measures
of muscle rigidity and other movement problems.
The average benefit was modest compared to the effects of
Parkinson's drugs such as levodopa.
Should people with Parkinson's drink coffee?
Dr Kieran Breen, our director of research and innovation
(pictured right), comments:
have suggested that regular coffee drinkers may have a slightly
reduced risk of getting Parkinson's. But this is really the first
study that suggests caffeine may actually improve symptoms.
"But while these new results are interesting, it's still far too
soon to say that everyone with Parkinson's should be drinking
"This study was too small to provide firm evidence of benefit,
and too short to tell us if these improvements in movement
symptoms are maintained in the longer term.
"Although many of us consume caffeine on a daily basis, it is a
drug and it can have side effects, especially if you're someone who
isn't used to it.
"So we would recommend talking to your GP or nurse before making
any significant changes to your caffeine intake."