Complementary Therapies in Parkinson Disease: a Review of Acupuncture, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga, and Cannabis

Neurotherapeutics. 2020 Oct;17(4):1434-1455. doi: 10.1007/s13311-020-00900-y.


Parkinson disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition characterized by bradykinesia, rigidity, resting tremor, and postural instability. Non-motor symptoms, including pain, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and depression to name a few, are increasingly recognized and often just as disabling at motor symptoms. The mainstay of treatment is dopamine replacement; however, the beneficial effects tend to wane over time with disease progression, and patients often experience motor fluctuations and medication side effects. The lack of a disease-modifying intervention and the shortcomings of traditional symptomatic medications have led many patients to pursue complementary therapies to alleviate motor and non-motor symptoms associated with PD. The term complementary implies that the therapy is used along with conventional medicine and may include supplements, manipulative treatments (chiropractic, massage), exercise-based programs, and mind-body practices. As these practices become more widespread in Western medicine, there is a growing interest in evaluating their effects on a number of medical conditions, PD included. In this review, we provide an update on clinical trials that have evaluated the effectiveness of complementary treatments for patients with PD, specifically focusing on acupuncture, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga, and cannabis.

Keywords: Parkinson disease; Tai Chi; acupuncture; cannabis; complementary alternative medicine; yoga.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Cannabis
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Complementary Therapies / methods
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Qigong / methods*
  • Tai Ji / methods*
  • Yoga*


  • Medical Marijuana