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A Brief Review of Research on Ketogenic Diets as a Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In this post, we will not be going into the underlying mechanisms involved in the pathology seen in Parkinson’s disease or how the ketogenic diet can modify them. But I will briefly outline research showing that a ketogenic diet can be an excellent treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.

An early study showed the benefit.

In 2005 there was this study that, although very small, showed benefits. “Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale scores improved in all five during hyperketonemia”

It wasn’t designed to rule out a placebo effect. But the result should have resulted in excitement and further studies being done.

Years later, a follow-up study occurred.

It wasn’t until years later that researchers published this study:

Patients with mild cognitive impairment associated with Parkinson’s disease in an eight-week nutritional intervention with random assignment to either ⬆️carb consumption typical of the Western dietary pattern (n=7) or to a ⬇️carb, keto regimen (n=7) for 8-weeks.

Cognitive performance, motor function, anthropometrics, and metabolic parameters were assessed.

Relative to the high-carb group, the low-carb group demonstrated improvements in lexical access (word finding; p=0.02), memory (p=0.01), and a trend towards reduced interference in memory (p=0.6).

The changes in body weight were strongly associated with memory performance (p=0.001).

Motor function was not affected by the intervention. Remember, though, it was only 8-weeks. There could have been further benefits seen in time. Let’s give those brains some time to heal!

Ok. Maybe a little bit about underlying mechanisms.

Even though these studies are small, it is important to know that we have a pretty darn good understanding of the likely mechanisms by which a ketogenic diet may improve the multiple cellular pathologies of Parkinson’s disease.

Ketogenic diets have biological mechanisms that help normalize energetic abnormalities, reduce oxidative stress and neuroinflammation and provide neuroprotection in Parkinson’s disease. Don’t believe all this is possible?

Then you should check in with these researchers who literally wrote a paper all about it in 2019. I keep telling you all. I am not making this stuff up.

Finally, a pilot randomized controlled trial occurred.

Still need more convincing? How about a pilot randomized controlled trial #RCT to compare the plausibility, safety, and efficacy of an 8-week, low-fat, high-carb diet vs. a ketogenic diet in a hospital clinic of Parkinson’s patients?

This study had an 88% completion rate, with 38 participants completing the study. Ketosis was measured and maintained.

On measures of daily living experiences (non-motor) they hit a home run.

Both groups significantly decreased their symptoms., but the ketogenic group decreased more in this area, representing a 41% improvement compared to just an 11% improvement in the low-fat group.

These are the symptoms that people with Parkinson’s report as being the most upsetting to live with, and they are the symptoms that medications simply offer no help with.

Large between-group decreases were also observed for urinary problems, pain and other sensations, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and cognitive impairment.

All huge quality of life factors for people with Parkinson’s disease.

I love that we have this treatment for Parkinson’s disease. But imagine how helpful it could be when people show the earliest signs even before a formal diagnosis.

You know, when people begin to show less facial expression, stop swinging their arms when they walk, talking very quietly or slurring their speech, or at the first sign of even the slightest tremor.

The bottom line is this.

I think people have a right to know all the ways they can feel better. And for people with Parkinson’s Disease, it is clear that a #ketogenic diet is one of them.

Someone out there is suffering a lot more than they need to. You may want to consider sharing this post.

#parkinsons #tremor #neurology

Are you interested in learning how to use a ketogenic diet to address neurological symptoms like those seen in Parkinson’s disease? If so, please check out my online program to learn more!

Or you may be able to find a trained medical practitioner in your area. Please check various provider directories available on this page.


  1. Thomas says:

    This is a great post! I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression for a while now and have been on a lot of different diets. The ketogenic diet has helped me so much and is such a great way to help my mental health.
    Thomas Blake

    1. So glad you found it helpful! I am working on a post regarding underlying mechanisms and how keto influences them. So hopefully that will be published soon.

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