Do not take AZILECT® (rasagiline tablets) if you are taking meperidine as it could result in a serious reaction such as coma or death. Also, do not take AZILECT with tramadol, methadone, propoxyphene, dextromethorphan, St. John’s wort, or cyclobenzaprine. You also should not take AZILECT with other monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as it could result in an unsafe rise in blood pressure. Read More Important Safety Information

Parkinson's Treatment

How Parkinson’s disease medications work

While there still is no cure for Parkinson's disease, there are many medications and other treatment approaches available to help improve symptoms. Because Parkinson's is a progressive disease, many experts agree it's important to begin treatment as soon as possible to help you maintain an active lifestyle.

Medications for Parkinson's disease

There are a number of different kinds of medications available to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Most medications for Parkinson's disease treat the declining levels of dopamine by either:

  • Preventing its breakdown
  • Mimicking its effects
  • Replacing it

You may start out with one medication, but over time your doctor will most likely add and change medications as your symptoms change.

How PD medications work

MAO-B inhibitors preserve dopamine. MAO-B is an enzyme that breaks down the dopamine in your brain. MAO-B inhibitors help prevent dopamine from being broken down, so more of your brain's dopamine is preserved.

Dopamine agonists mimic dopamine. Dopamine agonists act like dopamine in the brain, mimicking the effects of dopamine.

Levodopa helps replace dopamine. Levodopa converts to dopamine in the brain, helping to replace the brain's diminished supply of dopamine. Levodopa is a cornerstone PD therapy that many patients will eventually be prescribed.

COMT inhibitors help prevent the breakdown of levodopa. By blocking the action of the COMT enzyme, COMT inhibitors work to prevent the breakdown of levodopa so more levodopa will be available to the brain.

Nonmedical approaches

Medication is the foundation of Parkinson's treatment. But the good news is that it's not the only treatment. There are many other things you can do to help stay functional and active.

Exercise. Research has shown that regular exercise in people with Parkinson's does improve:

  • Tremor
  • Balance
  • Flexibility and muscle strength
  • Gait (walking)

Your exercise program should be tailored to your personal abilities and any other health concerns, such as high blood pressure or arthritis. Before starting any exercise program, consult with your healthcare provider.

For starters, you might try these:

  • “Big” exercises, such as exaggerated leg or arm movements, which may relieve motor symptoms
  • Stretching, which can increase your range of motion and relieve muscle tension
  • Tai chi, which may improve your balance and provide mind and body relaxation
  • Yoga, which uses stretching and breathing techniques to promote wellness

Nutrition. Nutrition is an important part of your Parkinson's disease game plan. While eating right is important for everyone, proper nutrition may also help prevent some common problems for people with Parkinson's disease:

  • Weight loss due to lack of appetite
  • Constipation, a common Parkinson's symptom
  • Bone health, as bone thinning may occur with Parkinson's
  • Protein intake, which can be an issue in patients who take levodopa

So what can you do? Start with a balanced diet, and try eating smaller, more frequent meals during the day if your appetite is low. Make sure to eat plenty of high-fiber foods such as whole grains, cooked dried beans, fruits, and vegetables to help with constipation.

Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K support strong bones, so make sure to include foods rich in those nutrients.

And finally, ask your doctor about protein intake if you take levodopa. Meals high in protein can interfere with your body's absorption of levodopa and may affect how it works.

Alternative therapies. Nutritional supplements, acupuncture, massage therapy…you may see claims that these and other alternative therapies help with the symptoms of Parkinson's. Some patients may benefit from therapies such as these, but it's important to discuss any treatment option with your doctor before you begin.

Surgical treatments

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the most common surgical procedure used to treat Parkinson's disease. However, DBS is generally considered only if currently available medications are not effective or if your symptoms have progressed to the point that medications no longer provide benefit.

In DBS, neurosurgeons implant an electrode into an area of the brain that affects movement. The electrode delivers a continuous, high-frequency electrical stimulator that helps control the movement center in the brain. DBS frequently leads to a dramatic improvement in Parkinson's symptoms and may allow for a reduced dose of levodopa, which may improve levodopa-related side effects and complications. People with Parkinson's should consult with a movement disorder specialist before considering this option.

AZILECT® (rasagiline tablets) is indicated for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD).

  • Do not take AZILECT if you are taking meperidine as it could result in a serious reaction such as coma or death. Also, do not take AZILECT with tramadol, methadone, propoxyphene, dextromethorphan, St. John’s wort, or cyclobenzaprine. You also should not take AZILECT with other monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as it could result in an unsafe rise in blood pressure
  • Increases in blood pressure may occur during treatment with AZILECT. Inform your physician if you have a history of high blood pressure. Possible symptoms of an unsafe rise in blood pressure include severe headache, blurred vision, difficulty thinking, seizure, chest pain, and nausea/vomiting. It is important that if you experience these symptoms that you speak with your doctor or seek medical attention. When AZILECT is taken at recommended doses, restriction of foods and beverages containing a substance called tyramine is ordinarily not required. However, it is recommended that you avoid foods containing high amounts of tyramine such as aged cheeses as some patients may have an increased sensitivity that could lead to an unsafe rise in blood pressure as described above
  • Inform your physician if you are taking, or planning to take, any prescription or over-the-counter drugs, especially antidepressants and ciprofloxacin. The combination of MAO-B inhibitors such as AZILECT and antidepressants has resulted in a serious and sometimes fatal condition called serotonin syndrome
  • If you experience episodes of falling asleep or drowsiness during activities of daily living, do not drive and exercise caution until you contact your physician
  • If you have moderate to severe liver disease, you should not take AZILECT. You should not exceed a dose of 0.5 mg per day of AZILECT if you have mild liver disease or are taking ciprofloxacin. Patients should not exceed a dose of 1 mg per day of AZILECT because of the risk of increased blood pressure
  • All PD patients should be monitored for a change in blood pressure, uncontrolled movements (dyskinesia), hallucinations, impulse control, confusion, and melanoma (skin cancer). A possible rise in body temperature may occur upon stopping AZILECT
  • The most common side effects seen with AZILECT alone are flu syndrome, joint pain, depression, and indigestion; when taken with a dopamine agonist are swelling of the legs, fall, joint pain, cough, and inability to sleep; and when taken with levodopa are uncontrolled movements (dyskinesia), accidental injury, weight loss, low blood pressure when standing, vomiting, anorexia, joint pain, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, rash, abnormal dreams, fall, and swelling of tendons
  • You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
  • Please see full Prescribing Information.