2 posts tagged “caffeine”

Spill the beans: How do caffeine and Parkinson’s disease interact?

Posted 4 months ago by

Do you crave that cup (or more) of joe each day? Or a spot of tea or chunk of chocolate? Research about caffeine and Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been all over the map. What have studies shown? And what’s the PatientsLikeMe community’s take on caffeine and its effects when you’re living with PD? Take a peek.

Mixed findings on symptom relief

Past research showing that moderate caffeine intake may help protect against PD (particularly in men) has turned on a steady drip of studies about other caffeine/PD connections or interactions.

A small-scale 2012 study published in the journal Neurology found that moderate amounts of caffeine may help improve motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. But the study was relatively short (three weeks) and small (61 patients), so researchers concluded that there should be a larger long-term trial on caffeine and PD.

The lead researcher, Ronald Postuma, M.D. (an associate professor of neurology at McGill University Health Center in Montreal), conducted a follow-up study on a larger scale — involving 121 participants for up to 18 months — and the results of the September 2017 study did not uphold the findings of the 2012 study.

“Caffeine made no difference to Parkinson’s,” he says, noting that the results of the 2012 study made a bigger splash than intended. “The news media picked it up, and all of a sudden I’ve got all of my patients drinking coffee, which I never intended,” Dr. Postuma tells WebMD. “We always have to verify things.”

New findings on caffeine as a biomarker

Another recent caffeine/PD study that’s created a buzz is one published in January 2018 in Neurology that shows caffeine could be a biomarker of PD, meaning it could be a possible predictor or diagnostic blood test down the road, if more research pans out.

In the Japanese study involving 139 people (men and women, both with and without PD), those with Parkinson’s disease had significantly lower levels of caffeine and related byproducts in their blood, even when consuming the same amount of caffeine (the equivalent of about two cups of coffee per day).

But the study also had limitations, including the fact that people with severe PD weren’t a part of the research, and all participants were taking PD medication (so these drugs could possibly affect caffeine metabolism).

The Michael J. Fox Foundation called the study’s findings “very intriguing” and is reportedly working on a “rapid replication” of the research.

What’s the takeaway from all this research?

The Parkinson’s Foundation sums it up like this: “The bottom line from all of the available research is that the epidemiologic link between caffeine and a potential lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease is not likely related to a symptomatic effect. If you have Parkinson’s, drinking coffee will not worsen your symptoms, in most cases… Consumption of coffee or tea seems to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s. Once you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, no matter how much time you spend in a coffee shop, you can no longer alter your risk profile.”

Among the general population, drinking coffee appears to have at least a few health perks. Nutrition experts at Harvard University say that, in addition to lowering the risk for PD, drinking coffee appears to protect against type 2 diabetes and liver cancer, and it’s generally a good beverage choice for healthy people (as long as it’s not loaded with fat/cream and sugar, interrupting sleep, or causing tremors — which can occur even in healthy people who consume too much caffeine).

Keep in mind that caffeine levels vary by brand and type of drink (for example, espresso and mocha drinks contain more). Talk with your health care team about your caffeine intake, timing with medications, and any symptoms you think may be associated with it.

Join PatientsLikeMe today to connect with others on topics like this (logged-in members can access the following links)! See what members with PD are saying about:

Some members have found that caffeine makes their tremors worse, while others say they’re not sure how it affects them (and besides, they’ll never give up their “morning joe”). A few have mentioned that they’ve tweaked their routine — having a bit of coffee only after they’ve taken their medication.

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Life with Microscopic Colitis: Managing Holiday Travel

Posted December 29th, 2011 by

You may have heard of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but have you heard of microscopic colitis?  One of several conditions under the IBD umbrella, this chronic, inflammatory disorder of the colon (aka the large intestine) can cause watery diarrhea and abdominal pain.  It gets its name from the fact that microscopic examination of the intestinal tissue is required to diagnose it.

A Snapshot of the Microscopic Colitis Community at PatientsLikeMe

While less severe than other forms of IBD, microscopic colitis can cause considerable discomfort.  Combine that with the stress, long hours and unpredictability of holiday travel, and you can imagine the challenges.  What do our 24 members with microscopic colitis (80% of whom are female) have to say about this annual ordeal?  Here is a sampling of their stories and advice:

  • “Yes, only people with colitis know how important a bathroom is!  I am so glad to have found others with this problem.  When I talk about it, nobody knows what it is. I have to ride to Chicago at the end of this month, and it is a five-hour drive.  It makes me so nervous to be in the car for that long. I am already stressing over it. Thank goodness it is my son taking me there so I can say pull over fast.”
  • “I reduced my caffeine (coffee), that seems to help somewhat, but I have flare ups.  I also have bladder issues.  I also had colitis for quite a long time before being diagnosed.  About the bathroom thing, I know all the bathrooms en route too, and I sleep closest to the bathroom. (Actually when were looking for a house, that was a requirement for me to have a toilet/bathroom next to me.)”
  • “There is a gas station, convenience store, or restaurant at almost every exit. If you explain why you need to use their bathroom, they usually let you. My GI specialist also has me on Colestipol, which is much better than the Imodium-type drugs. The Colestipol I only have to take twice a day, and it is much more effective. I can usually avoid eating anything before leaving, and usually don’t have a problem with trips that long.”

For those with microscopic colitis or other forms of IBD, going to grandmother’s house for the holidays can be quite a different story.  Fortunately, you’re not alone.  At PatientsLikeMe, we have 27 patients who report IBD, and more than 4,400 members subscribed to our Intestinal and Digestive Health Forum.  Need a little support this holiday season?  Log on to PatientsLikeMe to share and learn with those who can truly relate.