APDA American Parkinson Disease Association
Information & Referral Center

Complementary Therapies in PD

Relevant Publications - Downloadable

“Complementary Therapies and Multiple System Atrophy”
Published by the MSA Trust, March 2016
This 6-page fact sheet teaches the difference between complementary and alternative therapies and how to evaluate whether they are safe and effective for the expense, as most are not covered by medical insurance.  It explains 15 complementary therapies and their possible benefit.


“Complementary Therapies and Parkinson’s”
Published by Parkinson’s UK, March 2013
This 71-page booklet is for people interested in using complementary therapies alongside their Parkinson’s treatment, to help them manage their Parkinson’s symptoms.  It explains and evaluates 24 complementary therapies for the type of assistance that may be gained and associated risks for each.


“Complementary Therapies and Parkinson’s Disease”
Published by the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the United Kingdom, 2009
This 28-page booklet is intended to give you a first impression of what to look out for when trying complementary therapies.  It explains and evaluates 21 complementary therapies and includes an extensive reference list of research reports, textbooks and government sources.


Relevant Online Information

“Complementary Medicine”
Published by the National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation)
This webpage links to descriptions of many kinds of herbs, vitamins and supplements which support or complement Western or traditional medicine including antioxidant vitamins C and E, calcium and vitamin D, Coenzyme Q10, ginger, folate, green tea, medical marijuana, vitamin B12 and more.


“Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease,” by Dr. Joseph Jankovic
Published by the National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation)
This webpage starts by saying cannabis has not been demonstrated to directly benefit people with Parkinson’s, and goes on to explain the science and pharmacology behind marijuana, and the risks and benefits for people with Parkinson’s.  Links to four PD-related medical marijuana studies are provided.


Relevant Online Lectures and Webinars

“Alternative and complementary Therapies”
By the Parkinson’s Institute, March 12, 2012
A series of three short videos.  Part one is a 13-minute description of the many benefits and types of massage, and finding the right therapist for you. Part two is 6 minutes by a person with Parkinson’s, and practitioner of tai chi, demonstrating how it has helped him with balance, strength, proprioception, and overall health.  Part three is a 24-minute talk by a physical therapist about the importance of exercise, motivation to exercise, a walkthrough of a few exercises, and how PT can help Parkinson’s specifically.


“Complementary Approaches to Parkinson’s”
By the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), June 28, 2011
This 1-hour webinar, presented by Dr. Melanie Brandabur, although slightly dated, offers a detailed walk through all varieties of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), including how to incorporate these alternatives with your Western-medicine focused care.
Register to view the webinar
Slide presentation


“Medical Marijuana”
By the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation, 2017
HOPE Conference 2017
This 38:45 minute video is a talk by Jade Stafano, Naturopathic Doctor, about marijuana in the context of Parkinson’s disease.  She does an excellent job of explaining the constituents of marijuana effective in treating various symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, the possible adverse reactions, the importance of using medical grade marijuana and various consumption methods.


“What’s the Alternative? What to Know about Complementary Medicine for Parkinson’s”
By the Michael J. Fox Foundation, May 21, 2015
This 1-hour webinar is an interview of a person with PD, a neurologist, and an assistant research scientist. They share what is currently known about mind and body practices (yoga, meditation, stress management), manipulative therapies (massage, chiropractic, acupuncture), alternative medical systems (homeopathy, Ayurveda, Chinese medicine), and energy therapies (Reiki, Qi Gong) and what evidence there is that they are efficacious for people with Parkinson’s.
Register to view the webinar.


Expert-Level Resources

“Complementary & Alternative Management of Parkinson’s Disease: An Evidence-Based Review of Eastern Influenced Practices,” by Danny Bega and Cindy Zadikoff
Journal of Movement Disorders, October 30, 2014
This is a literature review on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments for PD, focusing on mind-body interventions and natural products.  


“Professional ethics in complementary and alternative medicines in management of Parkinson’s disease,” by Hee Jin Kim, et.al.
Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, October 19, 2016
A good, succinct summary of the evidence (or lack thereof) for various Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments for PD including Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, etc., with a good discussion of the ethical and safety considerations physicians should keep in mind when discussing CAM with patients and their families.


This list compiled by Steven Russell for Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach Program, February 2017.

Design support by Kevin T. Boyd

Footer Links: