Nearly half of people with Parkinson's disease are using one or more type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), such as vitamins, message or acupuncture. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US have carried out a survey of more than 200 people with Parkinson's disease. Forty per cent use one or more forms of CAM - and 12 per cent use five or more different ones. There's no link between severity of disease and use of CAM, so turning to alternatives is not a last resort. The use of CAM was most widespread among higher income, younger and better-educated patients.
What's of concern is that only half of those using CAM told their doctors about it - even though some remedies and forms of treatment might have an adverse effect or interact with prescribed therapies. It's something patients should reveal to the doctor, and something doctors should ask about. There's also a need for more research into the effectiveness of CAM. For instance, vitamin E is the most popular vitamin with Parkinson's patients, but a rigorous study has shown it not to be effective.