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Caffeine May Rev Up Motor Function in Patients with Parkinson’s

Caffeine has been the go-to source for quick and easy energy for as long as we can remember. Many habitual caffeine users even claim that this stimulant keeps them focused, relaxed, and full of energy. But is there more that caffeine has to offer? Recent studies at McGill University have revealed that consuming this bittersweet, metabolism-increasing miracle drug may actually improve movement in those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a motor system disorder caused by low levels of dopamine-creating cells. In the brain, dopamine works by controlling movement and signalling the body to perform different functions. Without sufficient amounts of this chemical, movements of the body are hindered. Patients with Parkinson’s typically suffer from:

  • uncontrollable muscle movements or tremors of the hands, arms, legs, and face
  • stiffness of arms and legs or the core
  • slowed or impaired movement and muscle function
  • trouble balancing and coordinating which can make it difficult to walk

How Does Caffeine Work?

Scientifically known as trimethylxanthine, caffeine is a natural chemical popular for its ability to fuel and increase brain function. Caffeine may be used medically to promote a healthier heart rate or simply for helping one feel more awake in the morning. Caffeine works by raising dopamine levels in the brain by slowing the reabsorption rate,  resulting in a feeling of pleasure. Caffeine also prevents the buildup of a certain neurotransmitter known as adenosine, which is thought to increase sleepiness. Through these reactions, caffeine may allow users to feel more energetic, as well as alert and awake.

How Does Caffeine Affect Parkinson’s?

In an experiment conducted at McGill University, 61 patients with Parkinson’s disease were tested to determine the effect of caffeine on this condition. One group of patients was given 100mg of caffeine daily for 21 days, with the dosage then being increased to 200mg twice daily for the following three week, while the other group was given placebo pills. At the end of the study the patients were tested on the severity of their current condition. The group who took a regimen of caffeine pills received results scoring 5 points better than the placebo group who did not take caffeine.

Other findings show that taking a trip to your local coffee shop may be the perfect way to lower your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee each day can decrease this chance up to 25%. Not a fan of coffee? Caffeine is available in Caffeine coffee and coffee beanssupplements, and can be found in other well-known products, such as chocolate, tea, and soda.

Doctor’s Advice

Although this may be an exciting finding, doctors urge patients to take caution when taking caffeine. As with all drugs, caffeine may be addicting and could be dangerous in excessive amounts. The link between caffeine and Parkinson’s disease has not been sufficiently examined for full safety and effectiveness.