Is it true that caffeine offers protection against Parkinson’s and can benefit those with the condition?
This article presents evidence from research studies to shed light on this question.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects about 1-2% of people over 65 worldwide. The disease causes movement problems like slowness, tremors, stiffness, and balance issues. It also leads to non-movement problems such as constipation, loss of smell, sleep troubles, fatigue, low blood pressure, and mood changes.
Medications are the main way to manage PD symptoms. But they have some issues. They’re not very effective at modifying the disease, and they often bring side effects that make life harder for patients. This is why researchers are searching for other ways to make PD symptoms better without causing more problems. one possibility they’re exploring is caffeine.
Caffeine is found in many drinks and is a favorite of about 80% of adults for its ability to help with alertness and reduce tiredness.
So, can caffeine protect against Parkinson’s disease?
The idea that caffeine could guard against PD isn’t just a guess. Multiple research studies, including epidemiological and experimental ones, support this idea.
In an important study from 2000, researchers found that caffeine has protective qualities for the brain. They looked at 8004 Japanese-American men for 30 years to see how their coffee habits affected their chances of developing PD. Surprisingly, those who consumed about 5 cups of coffee daily in midlife had a fivefold lower risk of getting PD by the time they reached 65 years old.
The evidence from several other studies points to a possible link between low caffeine levels and a higher risk of PD. In a lab test study, researchers looked at the blood of 108 people with PD and compared it to healthy people. They found that the PD patients had much less caffeine in their blood. This makes them think that low caffeine levels could be a sign of early PD and so could help identify the disease early on.
More evidence supporting the benefits of caffeine comes from studies involving animals. Many of these studies have shown that caffeine can protect the brain in animal models of PD. Specifically, it helps safeguard the dopaminergic neurons, which are the cells lost in the brains of people with PD. Importantly, caffeine’s protective effects continue to work even after the process of neurodegeneration has begun.
But what about individuals already diagnosed with PD? Can caffeine help alleviate their symptoms?
This aspect remains a subject of ongoing investigation. Researchers have been cautious in endorsing it as an effective treatment option for PD. Nevertheless, two published studies suggest that caffeine may offer benefits to individuals with PD.
In one randomized trial, Parkinson’s patients were administered 100-200 mg of caffeine tablets twice daily for six weeks. The study’s conclusion revealed improved motor functions in patients, although non-motor symptoms remained unchanged. Researchers of this study recommended conducting a long-term trial to substantiate caffeine’s beneficial effects on motor function.
Another study, published in the Journal of BMC Neurology, found a similar positive impact of caffeine on motor symptoms. Researchers of the study evaluated coffee consumption and tremor severity in 284 de novo PD patients. They found reduced tremors among coffee drinkers, both male and female. However, they did not find improvement in other symptoms of the disease.
while a few studies provide equivocal results, most research has shown that caffeine might have protective effects against the development of PD. Some experts even suggest that individuals with PD might consider caffeine consumption, as long as they can manage potential side effects. However, if you have PD and are thinking about incorporating caffeine into your routine, it’s important to discuss it with your healthcare provider first to avoid any complications.
Disclaimer: The information shared here should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions presented here are not intended to treat any health conditions. For your specific medical problem, consult with your health care provider.