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National Institutes of Health • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Parkinson’s Disease and Complementary Health Approaches

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December 2016
Older woman with child

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Several complementary health approaches have been studied for Parkinson’s disease, and some have shown a positive benefit for the symptoms associated with the disease. There is some limited evidence that tai chi may improve some symptoms of Parkinson’s, but study results are mixed. Few research studies on massage therapy and acupuncture for people with Parkinson’s disease exist, and neither modality appears to reduce symptoms. No dietary supplements have been shown to be beneficial for symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The American Academy of Neurology issued a practice parameter in April 2006 on neuroprotective strategies and alternative therapies for Parkinson’s disease and made evidence-based treatment recommendations that address the needs of specialists and caregivers for people with Parkinson’s disease.

This issue of the digest provides a summary of evidence for several complementary health approaches that have been studied for Parkinson’s disease, including natural products and mind and body practices.

Modality and Summary of Current Evidence

Tai Chi

There is some evidence that tai chi, along with medication, may improve some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as balance and functional mobility.

Read more about the evidence-base for Tai Chi for Parkinson’s Disease.

Acupuncture

Clinical studies in China have shown a positive benefit of acupuncture in treating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease; however, large and well-controlled clinical trials are needed before a conclusion about the efficacy of acupuncture for this condition can be drawn. The American Academy of Neurology’s practice parameter on neuroprotective strategies and alternative therapies for Parkinson’s disease concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of acupuncture in Parkinson’s disease.

Read more about the evidence-base for Acupuncture for Parkinson’s Disease.

Massage

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether massage therapy has any beneficial effect on symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Read more about the evidence-base for Massage for Parkinson’s Disease.

Dance

There is some limited evidence that dance, such as the Argentine tango, can be a supportive approach for people with Parkinson’s disease and has the potential to improve specific symptoms of Parkinson’s, including motor severity and balance over the short term.

Read more about the evidence-base for Dance for Parkinson’s Disease.

Coenzyme Q10

The American Academy of Neurology’s practice parameter on neuroprotective strategies and alternative therapies for Parkinson’s disease concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of coenzyme Q10 for neuroprotection.

Read more about the evidence-base for Coenzyme Q10 for Parkinson’s Disease.

Creatine

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether creatine used alone or as an adjuvant treatment is efficacious for Parkinson’s disease.

Read more about the evidence-base for Creatine for Parkinson’s Disease.

Mucuna pruriens (Velvet bean)

There is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of Mucuna pruriens for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

Read more about the evidence-base for Mucuna pruriens (Velvet bean) for Parkinson’s Disease.

Vitamin E

The American Academy of Neurology’s practice parameter on neuroprotective strategies and alternative therapies for Parkinson’s disease concluded that Vitamin E is probably ineffective for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Read more about the evidence-base for Vitamin E for Parkinson’s Disease.

Clinical Guidelines

NCCIH Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH, DHHS. NCCIH Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on complementary health approaches, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCIH-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is dedicated to exploring complementary health products and practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary health researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCIH's Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH Web site at nccih.nih.gov. NCCIH is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

Copyright

Content is in the public domain and may be reprinted, except if marked as copyrighted (©). Please credit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.

This page last modified December 16, 2016