NMA: Nonprescription Medicines Academy

Caffeine May Improve Motor Symptoms in Parkinsons Disease

August 29th, 2012

In a 6-week randomized, controlled trial, treatment with caffeine twice daily had no clear benefit for excessive daytime somnolence in patients with Parkinson’s disease. However, caffeine treatment did improve motor manifestations as measured by the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS).

A total of 61 patients with Parkinson’s disease with daytime somnolence were randomized to two groups:

  • Caffeine 100 mg twice daily for 3 weeks, followed by 200 mg twice daily for 3 weeks
  • Placebo tablets administered on an equivalent schedule.

The primary outcome was the Epworth Sleepiness Scale score; motor severity was a secondary outcome.

Treatment with caffeine resulted in a nonsignificant reduction in Epworth Sleepiness Scale score (−1.71 points; 95% CI, −3.57 to 0.13). However, caffeine treatment was associated with reductions in the total Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale score (−4.69 points; 95% CI, −7.7 to −1.6) as well as the objective motor component (−3.15 points; 95% CI, −5.50 to −0.83). Adverse events were comparable in the caffeine and placebo groups.

The authors cautioned that these findings must be confirmed in larger, long-term trials explicitly designed to assess the effects of caffeine in early disease.

Neurology. 2012;79:651-8. Epub 2012 Aug 1.