Search Still on for Parkinson's Treatments

Creatine monohydrate did not appear to slow progression of Parkinson disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The search is still on to find effective treatments for Parkinson’s disease. While creatine appeared to be a promising treatment, it now looks like it may be a dud.

A new study found that creatine monohydrate failed to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease in patients. In fact, because creatine was ineffective in treating Parkinson’s, the authors of this study ended their research early.

Lead study author Karl Kieburtz, MD, of the University of Rochester in New York, wrote that "treatment with creatine monohydrate for at least 5 years, compared with placebo, did not improve clinical outcomes. These findings do not support the use of creatine monohydrate in such patients with Parkinson disease."

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that damages the nerve cells in the brain that help control body movements and coordination. The loss of these cells makes it harder for patients to control their movement. Fewer nerve cells may also mean that less dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that also helps regulate movement, is released. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include shaking (also called tremors), stiffness, loss of balance, and trouble walking and moving.

There is currently no cure or proven treatment to slow the progression or cure Parkinson’s disease, according to Dr. Kieburtz and team.

Past research has found that creatine could be a possible treatment for Parkinson’s because it may help protect nerve cells. Creatine (an amino acid) plays a key role in cellular energy creation, which may be reduced in patients with Parkinson’s.

Dr. Kieburtz and colleagues studied more than 1,700 patients in this study. Patients were enrolled from March 2007 to May 2010 and followed up with until September 2013. The patients either had early Parkinson’s disease (within five years of diagnosis) or were already being treated for Parkinson’s.

Patients were given either creatine monohydrate or a placebo (fake treatment that appears real) for at least five years.

Dr. Kieburtz and team ended their trial early because creatine appeared ineffective in treating Parkinson’s disease among the study patients.

Although there is no cure for Parkinson's, medications that cause the brain to produce more dopamine — like levodopa combined with carbidopa (brand names Parcopa and Sinemet) — can reduce symptoms in patients. In some cases, doctors will perform surgeries that allow them to send electrical pulses to patients' brains, which may also relieve Parkinson's symptoms.

This study was published Feb. 10 in JAMA.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke funded this research. Some of the study authors disclosed financial ties to public and private groups, as well as pharmaceutical companies.

Review Date: 
February 8, 2015
Last Updated:
February 10, 2015