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 Is coffee a drug? What the latest study on dyskinesia says

According to this study, caffeine may reduce tremors caused by this debilitating and orphan neurological disorder. However, more studies are needed to confirm these initial findings.

One cup of coffee and the tremors disappear. A study published Tuesday showed that regular coffee consumption, even in children, improves symptoms of a very rare neurological disorder of genetic origin, confirming previous isolated observations.

The new study confirms "the potential of caffeine (...) for the treatment of an orphan neurological disease," the Brain Institute, an organization that participated in this work along with Inserm and Paris Hospitals (AP-HP), summarized in a statement.

Is coffee a drug?

The study, published in the neurological journal Movement Disorders, aims to confirm the first isolated data on the effectiveness of coffee in treating movement disorders, known as dyskinesias, linked to a gene called ADCY5.

Uncontrolled movements

This extremely rare but very debilitating disease manifests itself with many uncontrolled movements, for which there is still no treatment. But three years ago, French doctors, including neurologists Emmanuel Flamand-Roze and Aurélie Méneret, discovered a possible positive effect of caffeine in a young patient.

However, this accidental discovery - the 11-year-old boy had drunk normal coffee and then, accidentally, decaffeinated coffee, the decaffeinated coffee acting as a placebo - was only an isolated case and therefore had to be confirmed.

To this end, Méneret and Flamand-Roze examined data from 30 patients of all ages who had consumed caffeine. Most of them (26) noted an improvement in symptoms after taking caffeine, while three others saw a worsening.

In most patients, including children, caffeine was well tolerated. This study supports the hypothesis (...) that caffeine has a beneficial effect in patients with ADHD5-related dyskinesia," the authors conclude.

Admittedly, this work was conducted with a limited sample and mainly retrospectively, which means that a direct causal relationship cannot be established, especially when comparing the effect of caffeine with a placebo.

However, these limitations are natural, as the disease in question is rare and severe, the researchers note. Since ADHD5-related dyskinesia is rare and caffeine is very much a part of everyday life, it is very difficult to conduct a "classic randomized trial" with a placebo," the authors explain.


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