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Neurology. 2001 Sep 11;57(5):790-4.

The use of alternative therapies by patients with Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.



To determine the prevalence and spectrum of use of alternative therapy (AT) by patients with PD and to determine whether use of AT correlates with demographic, social, or disease-specific characteristics.


The authors administered a structured questionnaire, by interview, regarding the use of AT to 201 patients with PD. Demographic, social, and disease-specific characteristics were recorded for all patients.


Eighty-one patients (40%) used at least one AT. Vitamins and herbs, massage, and acupuncture were most common. Users of AT were younger (p = 0.0021) and had a younger age at onset of PD (p = 0.0011) than nonusers of AT. There was no correlation with sex or race. Patients who used AT had a higher income (p = 0.038) and education level (p = 0.006) than did nonusers of AT. There was no association between the use of AT and the Hoehn and Yahr score, duration of PD, duration of treatment with levodopa, surgery for PD, and presence of fluctuations.


The use of AT is common in patients with PD. The age at onset of PD is the most potent predictor of AT use. There is no association between the use of AT and the severity of PD. The widespread and largely unexamined use of AT for PD requires more attention. This should be directed at testing their safety and efficacy and improving physician and patient knowledge about the potential benefits, costs, limitations, and risks of AT.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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