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 2015
This 76-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.



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.


“A Resource Guide of 18 Complementary Therapies For People With Parkinson's” 
Published by the Davis Phinney Foundation, August 7, 2018
The options to help people with Parkinson's live well are not limited to conventional medicine and DBS. This list of 18 complementary therapies people associated with the Davis Phinney Foundation Blog experimented with, under the care of their medical team, in an attempt to reduce symptoms even more.


“The Value of a Team of Complementary Therapists When You Want to Live Well With Parkinson's,” by Fred Schott
Published by the Davis Phinney Foundation, August 14, 2018
A first hand account of one man's experience adding a physical therapist, speech therapist and occupational therapist to his already diligent exercise routine. Fred was evaluated before and after a six-week trial adding 'big maximal daily exercises', speaking with more 'intent,' like talking to the back of a large audience, and exercises designed to reawaken fine motor skills and muscles needed to do simple things. He improved so much his daughter said she felt like she got her Dad back.


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


“Complementary Therapies and Alternative Practices for Parkinson's Disease” 
By the Davis Phinney Foundation
In this 8-minute video Dr. Benzi Kluger takes an evidence-based approach to discuss the risks and potential benefits of a wide range of non-medication, complementary therapies, from yoga, tai chi and dance to nutritional supplements, cannibidoil and medical marijuana.


“Medical Marijuana”
By the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation, 2017
In this 39-minute lecture, filmed at the 2017 HOPE Conference, Naturopathic Doctor, Jade Stafano, speaks 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

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