Coenzyme Q10 Good for People with Kidney Failure
July 17, 2003—Supplementing with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can improve kidney function and reduce the need for dialysis in people with severe, chronic kidney (renal) failure, according to a study in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (2003;13:13–22). If this study is confirmed, CoQ10 therapy will represent a major breakthrough in the treatment of a disorder that is both debilitating and a significant drain on our healthcare resources.
In severe, chronic renal failure, the kidneys lose their capacity to excrete waste products of metabolism and other toxins. Consequently, these substances accumulate in the body, leading to various problems such as fatigue, loss of appetite, anemia, disorders of the nervous system, heart disease, and ultimately death. Common causes of chronic renal failure include diabetes, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and high blood pressure.
People with advanced renal failure are usually treated three or more times per week by a procedure called dialysis, in which a machine is used to filter the toxins from the blood. While dialysis can prolong life in people with advanced renal failure, it is associated with a number of adverse effects, including low blood pressure, infection, and worsening heart disease. In addition, dialysis is expensive, costing more than $50,000 per year at some centers. Any treatment that has the potential to improve kidney function and reduce the need for dialysis would be a significant advance.
In the new study, 97 people (average age, 48 years) with chronic renal failure were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or 60 mg of CoQ10 by mouth three times per day for 12 weeks. Among the 45 participants who were already receiving dialysis, supplementation with CoQ10 resulted in an improvement in various measures of kidney function, including serum creatinine (29% improvement) and blood urea nitrogen (9% improvement). In contrast, kidney function tended to worsen in the placebo group, and the differences between CoQ10 and placebo were statistically significant. CoQ10 also produced significant improvements relative to placebo among the participants who were not receiving dialysis. By the end of the study, the number of people requiring dialysis had decreased from 21 to 12 in the CoQ10 group, but remained unchanged at 24 in the placebo group.
These results suggest that treatment with CoQ10 improves kidney function and reduces the need for dialysis in people with chronic renal failure. Because CoQ10 has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of chronic renal failure, a large-scale, long-term study should be initiated as soon as possible.
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Alan R. Gaby, MD, an expert in nutritional therapies, testified to the White House Commission on CAM upon request in December 2001. Dr. Gaby served as a member of the Ad-Hoc Advisory Panel of the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine. He is the author of Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis (Prima, 1994), and co-author of The Natural Pharmacy, 2nd Edition (Healthnotes, Prima, 1999), the A–Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions (Healthnotes, Prima, 1999), Clinical Essentials Volume 1 and 2 (Healthnotes, 2000), and The Patient’s Book of Natural Healing (Prima, 1999). A former professor at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, in Kenmore, WA, where he served as the Endowed Professor of Nutrition, Dr. Gaby is the Chief Medical Editor for Healthnotes, Inc.
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