Coenzyme Q10 Slows Progression of Parkinson's Disease
June 26, 2003—Supplementing with a large amount of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can slow disease progression in people with early Parkinson's disease, according to a study in Archives of Neurology (2002;59:1541–50). This finding offers new hope in the search for effective treatments for a debilitating disease that affects more than two million Americans.
In this double-blind study, 80 people with Parkinson's disease that had not yet become severe enough to require medical treatment were randomly assigned to receive one of three doses of CoQ10 (300, 600, or 1200 mg per day) or a placebo for 16 months. The effect of treatment was monitored using the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale, a research tool that assesses disease severity. After 16 months of treatment, the average score had increased (worsened) by 49.8% in the placebo group, 36.9% in the 300-mg-per-day group, 47% in the 600-mg-per-day group, and 29.6% in the 1200-mg-per-day group. The difference between placebo and 1,200 mg per day of CoQ10 was statistically significant. CoQ10 was well tolerated and no serious side effects were seen.
The amount of CoQ10 that was found to be effective was considerably larger than that used in most other CoQ10 studies. At current retail prices, 1,200 mg per day of CoQ10 costs about $8.00 per day. The study also showed a tendency toward improvement with lower amounts of CoQ10, but the results were not statistically significant, possibly because not enough people were enrolled in the study.
Earlier research has shown that taking large amounts of vitamin C (up to 3,000 mg per day) and vitamin E (up to 3,200 IU per day) also can slow the progression of Parkinson's disease. In addition, animal studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin E increases the effects of CoQ10 in the body. These findings raise the possibility that taking all three of these nutrients in combination would increase the effectiveness of CoQ10.
Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive disorder of the brain that leads to symptoms such as tremor, rigidity of the body, slurring of speech, and depression. There is no known cure for the disease, although certain drugs can be used to reduce symptoms.
Researchers became interested in the relationship between CoQ10 and Parkinson's disease because of reports that the disease is associated with a defect in the production of energy by mitochondria. The specific component of the energy-producing apparatus that was found to be impaired (known as Complex I) depends on CoQ10 for its activity. In addition, reduced concentrations of CoQ10 have been found in the blood of people with Parkinson's disease.
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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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