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Complementary therapies for Parkinson's disease


“Parkinson’s effects the whole person, so you need treatment that does the same thing”


Many people make use of complementary medicine (sometimes called ‘alternative medicine’). This cannot cure Parkinson’s disease (PD), but may help specific symptoms and make it easier to cope with the condition.

Some people find that complementary approaches fit in better with their lifestyle and beliefs. Complementary medicine is best used alongside conventional medicine - as a complement, rather than an alternative.

Yoga, meditation and relaxation therapy are most used by less disabled people with PD, and aromatherapy and herbal medicine by the more disabled. Other complementary therapies include acupuncture, reflexology, massage, homeopathy, healing and osteopathy/chiropractic.

There is no evidence that any particular therapy has specific effects in PD. Some people find benefits from massage and relaxation for muscular stiffness, yoga for balance problems, acupuncture for pain and discomfort and herbalism for concentration and mood problems.

It is very important that your complementary therapist has adequate training and experience and that you inform your doctor(s) about any additional treatment you receive.

Complementary therapy can be expensive. PD is a chronic condition and long term therapy can cost a lot of money. It is worth considering if it is sensible to continue if there is no benefit after a few sessions.

There is no hard evidence of benefit from complementary therapies in PD, but some people find they are helpful. Many people feel they are worth a try, but it must be remembered that they can also cause problems when misused or poorly administered.


You family or specialist doctor or specialist nurse should be able to answer your questions about advantages and disadvantages of trying complementary therapies.

The UK Parkinson’s Disease Society (telephone 020 7931 8080) can provide information http://www.parkinsons.org.uk and publishes ‘Guidelines for evaluating the efficacy of complementary therapy for the management of Parkinson’s disease’, by Richard Brown and Veronica Nanton.

Useful books include:

‘Which? Guide to Complementary Therapies, by Barbara Rowlands, published in 2002 by Which Books, London. ISBN 0 85 202 8938

‘Know your complementary therapies’ by Eileen Herzberg, published in 2001 by Age Concern, London.
ISBN 0 86 242 3090

Useful websites include:

British Complementary Medicine Association



This site has been established for the dissemination of information. While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site is accurate and current we accept no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies that may have crept in. If in any doubt please contact your doctor for further advice.

Last Modified 13 August 2004
Maintained by Matthew Harris