Alternative Therapies Deemed Effective for Parkinson’s Symptoms

tai chi
tai chi
Over fifty percent of respondents reported using 1 or more alternative therapies.

More patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are pursuing complementary therapies to address their symptoms, according to data presented at the 2016 World Parkinson Congress, held September 20-23, 2016 in Portland, Oregon.

The use of complementary therapies and their effectiveness for addressing PD symptoms has not been well researched. In this study, investigators issued surveys to patients with PD or related movement disorders. Ultimately, 168 surveys were returned (46.3% response rate).

Fifty percent of respondents reported using at 1 or more types of alternative therapy, with an average of 2.6 therapies. In the survey, “U” indicated the percentage that used the therapy and “E” indicated the percentage that deemed the therapy effective. Therapies included: tai chi (U: 16.8%; E: 70.6%), yoga (U: 25.8%; E: 83.3%), aroma therapy (U: 8.8%; E: 80%), essential oils (U: 12.8%, E: 78.6%), acupuncture (U: 17.8%, E: 52.4%), acupressure (U: 5.3%, E: 83.3%), massage (U: 41.7%, E: 87.5%), meditation (U: 21.2%, E: 95.7%), visualization (U: 8%, E: 100%), reiki (U: 0.9%, E: 100%), and homeopathy (U: 7.1%, E: 66.7%).

Participants who reported not employing complementary therapies cited several reasons to explain their decision, including: lack of knowledge of available therapies (58.7%); absence of recommendation by treating physician (33.3%); inability in finding treatment facilities (25.4%); disbelief of alternative treatment efficacy (22.2%); lack of research (20.6%); adequate efficacy of current treatment (15.9%); and high expenses incurred (12.7%).

Notably, over 74% of respondents indicated that they would be willing participants in a research study on the use of such alternative therapies.

It is apparent from the data that, despite the amount of effective pharmaceutical treatments for PD, many patients seek alternative therapies to further address their symptoms – and with good effectiveness. “There is clear interest in the PWP population to explore research in these non-medication therapies,” the study authors concluded.

For more coverage of WPC 2016, go here.


McGregor S, Donley S. Complementary therapies in Parkinson’s disease. Presented at: World Parkinson Congress 2016. September 20-23, 2016; Portland, OR.