Alternative Treatments for Parkinson's Disease

For people with Parkinson's disease, treatment typically involves the use of medications that help minimize movement problems and control symptoms. A disorder of the central nervous system, Parkinson's disease also can be better managed with the help of certain lifestyle changes.

In addition to medication, people who have Parkinson's disease often seek alternative treatment options.

Older man getting aupuncture
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The Importance of Treatment

As Parkinson's disease takes its course, nerve cells responsible for the production of dopamine (a brain chemical that helps control muscle movement) slowly die off. The condition causes tremors, muscle stiffness, and difficulty with motor function.

Treatment for Parkinson's disease helps reduce the following symptoms:

  • Problems with movement
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Impaired balance and walking
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Rigid or stiff muscles
  • Shaking
  • Slowed speech

Treatment for Parkinson's disease also might help reduce the risk of Parkinson's-related complications, such as depression, sleep problems, urinary problems, constipation, and sexual dysfunction.

Standard Treatment

Standard treatment for Parkinson's disease often involves the use of medications that help boost the brain's supply of dopamine. Although these medications can help improve symptoms, many drugs prescribed to Parkinson's patients can cause side effects (including hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea).

What's more, many symptoms respond less to treatment over time. Therefore, if you have Parkinson's disease, you will need to work closely with your healthcare providers to monitor your symptoms and adjust your treatment programs.

In many cases, physical therapy and occupational therapy can help improve mobility and range of motion in Parkinson's disease. Sometimes, surgery can also be a treatment option.

Lifestyle Changes

Healthcare providers often recommend the following lifestyle changes as part of treatment for Parkinson's disease:

  • Good nutrition
  • Regular exercise
  • Regular rest and good sleep hygiene
  • Stress management
  • Use of assisting devices, such as special eating utensils

Alternative Treatments

The use of alternative medicine in the treatment of Parkinson's disease has not been extensively researched. However, a small number of studies suggest that the following natural approaches may be of some benefit to Parkinson's patients.

Acupuncture

Some research suggests that receiving acupuncture (a needle-based Chinese therapy) may help improve motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Further research studies are being conducted to assess the effectiveness of this therapy on different symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Tai Chi

Research on the effects of Tai Chi on Parkinson's disease suggests that long-term Tai Chi training can improve gait and balance problems for people who have the condition. According to the researchers, the underlying mechanisms may include enhanced brain network function, reduced inflammation, improved amino acid metabolism, energy metabolism, and neurotransmitter metabolism, and decreased vulnerability to dopaminergic degeneration.

Coenzyme Q10

Parkinson's disease is associated with low levels of coenzyme Q10, a substance essential for the basic functioning of cells. It's thought that taking dietary supplements of coenzyme Q10 might aid in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, and supplementation is well tolerated. The specific effects are still being investigated.

Using Alternative Medicine for Parkinson's Disease

Conventional medicine and alternative therapy have not been found to stop the progression of Parkinson's disease. If you're interested in using alternative medicine as part of your Parkinson's disease treatment program, talk to your healthcare provider about which alternative therapies might be helpful for you. Self-treating or avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed healthcare provider. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstance or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your healthcare provider before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Fan JQ, Xu ZQ, Chen YY, Lu WJ, Xie XY, Wang YT, Zhuang LX. Efficacy of acupuncture for Parkinson's disease anxiety: two-stage protocol for a randomized controlled clinical trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2022 Feb 9;2022:5180193. doi:10.1155/2022/5180193

  3. Li G, Huang P, Cui SS, Tan YY, He YC, Shen X, Jiang QY, Huang P, He GY, Li BY, Li YX, Xu J, Wang Z, Chen SD. Mechanisms of motor symptom improvement by long-term Tai Chi training in Parkinson's disease patients. Transl Neurodegener. 2022 Feb 7;11(1):6. doi:10.1186/s40035-022-00280-7

  4. Mantle D, Heaton RA, Hargreaves IP. Coenzyme Q10, Ageing and the nervous system: An overview. antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Dec 21;11(1):2. doi:10.3390/antiox11010002

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