Could caffeine help MS patients improve balance and mobility?

A recent study suggests that taking caffeine tablets, equivalent to about two cups of coffee a day, may help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) improve their balance and mobility, potentially enhancing their quality of life. However, the long-term effects and potential side effects of prolonged or higher-dose caffeine intake remain uncertain and warrant further investigation.

While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, previous research has indicated a lower risk of developing MS among people who regularly consume caffeinated beverages like coffee, black tea, or green tea.

Caffeine, also found in small amounts in cocoa, is known to increase brain activity and promote alertness, focus, and energy. It may also impact breathing patterns and heart rate. Studies in non-MS populations have shown potential benefits of caffeine on posture and balance.

In a study conducted in Iran, researchers investigated the effects of daily consumption of 200 milligrams of caffeine tablets over 12 weeks on movement problems associated with MS in 30 adults diagnosed with the condition. Most participants had relapsing-remitting MS, followed by secondary progressive MS and primary progressive MS.

Before starting the caffeine tablets, participants underwent a two-week period with a placebo, and baseline measurements were taken. After 12 weeks on the caffeine tablets, significant improvements were observed in balance and mobility. The mean Berg Balance Scale score increased significantly, indicating improved ability to balance on static or dynamic platforms. Additionally, participants completed the Timed Up-and-Go test, which measures mobility, approximately 12 seconds faster on average.

Furthermore, improvements in quality of life were noted as early as two weeks into the study, with a significant decrease in the mean Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale score. However, variations were observed based on sex and age, with men experiencing a more pronounced decline in walking ability over time and older individuals facing worsening balance issues.

While these findings are promising, the researchers emphasise the need for further studies with larger sample sizes and longer follow-up periods to confirm the benefits of caffeine intake for individuals with MS.

Please note, you must consult with your health practitioner before beginning any new supplements.