Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Parkinson's Disease: Estrogen Could Help

WebMD Health News

Aug. 7, 2001 (Quebec City) -- The debate over whether the female hormone estrogen boosts brainpower continues to rage, although recent evidence suggests that it can be helpful for memory in postmenopausal women. Now, a recent finding shows that it may also be helpful in protecting postmenopausal women from the devastating effects of Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is a condition that usually affects older adults in which the part of the brain responsible for coordinating movement starts to break down. People with the disease thus suffer from difficulty with movement, stiffness, and uncontrollable tremors.

There's much discussion among healthcare professionals about whether women who undergo menopause should take female hormones, including estrogen, to replace those that are no longer being produced by the body.

Hormone replacement therapy is effective in treating the uncomfortable effects that often accompany menopause, such as hot flashes and sexual problems. Recent research suggests it might not have the beneficial effects on the heart many experts hoped it did, but there is good evidence that it does help the brain.

Expert Rachel Saunders-Pullman, MD, and her colleagues looked at the health records of 138 women with Parkinson's disease who had passed menopause. Thirty-four of these women had taken hormone replacement therapy; 102 had not.

Not surprisingly, the longer the women had been suffering from Parkinson's disease, the worse their symptoms were. However, women who had taken hormone replacement therapy had less severe symptoms than those who had never taken estrogen. The older the women were, the bigger the difference in symptoms was between those who had and had not taken estrogen.

According to the researchers, their findings suggest that estrogen might actually help protect the brain from the breakdown that occurs with Parkinson's disease.

Saunders-Pullman is an assistant professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. She presented the current knowledge of estrogen and Parkinson's disease this week at a medical conference held here.

"At this point ... we can't translate this to recommending that someone should or shouldn't take hormone replacement therapy," Saunders-Pullman tells WebMD. However, women who have Parkinson's disease and start or stop taking hormone replacement therapy for other reasons should be aware that doing so could affect their Parkinson's symptoms.

Today on WebMD

Parkinsons disease illustration
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
hands on walker
How does the disease progress?
man with serious expression
8 common questions and answers.
intelligence quotient illustration
What are the advantages of DBS?
Parkinsons Disease Medications
Questions Doctor Parkinsons
Eating Right
Parkinsons Exercise
daughter consoling depressed mother
senior man's hands
Parkinsons Daily