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5 Things To Know About Complementary Health Approaches for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that occurs when nerve cells in the brain that make the chemical dopamine stop working normally. The primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. As these symptoms become more pronounced, people may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. There are currently no blood or laboratory tests that have been proven to help in diagnosing Parkinson’s, so it’s sometimes hard to diagnose. For more information on Parkinson's disease, visit the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but medications and a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation may help control symptoms for a limited period. Some people with Parkinson’s disease also try complementary health approaches to help with symptoms of the disease. Here are 5 things to know about complementary health approaches for Parkinson’s disease:

  1. There is some limited evidence that tai chi may improve some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as balance and functional mobility, but study results are mixed.

  2. Dance therapy appears to provide short-term benefits for some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including balance problems.

  3. Neither massage nor acupuncture appears to reduce symptoms of Parkinson's disease, but the research on both approaches is limited. 

  4. No dietary supplements have been shown to help control symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

  5. Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.