Friday, July 17, 2015

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, and Migraine

“Coenzyme Q10 is a natural compound produced by the body… On a cellular chemistry level, this antioxidant helps convert food into energy.” 
- Cooper and Miller, 2010 

CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone, is a fat-soluble supplement that is believed to help with many things from heart failure to cancer. But, for this post we will focus on how it might help fibromyalgia, ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), migraine, and related symptoms.

Effects of CoQ10 on Gene Expression and Human Cell Signaling

CoQ10 affects expression of genes in mice, and gene expression in human cell signaling,   metabolism and transport. It is thought that the effects of CoQ10 supplementation may be due to this property.

The Mitochondria and CoQ10

“In order to understand how CoQ10 works, it is first necessary to understand mitochondria.  Imagine that each cell in your body is a car. Mitochondria are the engines – or energy producers – in each cell that make your “car” run. It is the job of the mitochondria to supply this energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is where CoQ10 comes in. To continue the car analogy, it is the oil that enables the engine to work. [It] is the catalyst that makes it possible for the mitochondria to produce ATP, the molecule upon which all cellular functions in the body depend.” 

Coenzyme Q10 is essential to the functioning of the cells in our body, and deficiency has been related to several serious health consequences. This does not mean it comes without precautions and side effects, or drug interactions.  So, if you decide to try it, please make sure your doctor and pharmacist have a complete list of all your medications and all the over-the-counter supplements and remedies you use. You can review tips for medication safety on my website.

Could CoQ10 Help Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, early study suggests CoQ10 may be helpful for fibromyalgia and related symptoms of dry mouth, muscle weakness and dystrophies, nerve pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

One study on mitochondrial dysfunction shows that CoQ10 could help. Interestingly, in this study IL-8 (a proinflammatory cytokine) was elevated. This was also found in another study relating neuroinflammation to heart rate variability (an autonomic effect) in fibromyalgia. This begs the question,

“Could coQ10 also help fibromyalgia patients 
with autonomic nervous system involvement?"

“It is argued that mitochondrial dysfunctions, e.g. lowered ATP production, may play a role in the onset of ME/cfs symptoms, e.g. fatigue and post exertional malaise, and may explain in part the central metabolic abnormalities observed in ME/cfs, e.g. glucose hypometabolism and cerebral hypoperfusion.”  (Morris and Maes, 2014.)  Though further trials are suggested, it was found in another study that CoQ10 along with NADH, might be beneficial in treating ME/CFS. The results of another study showed “lowered levels of CoQ10 play a role in the pathophysiology of ME/CFS and that symptoms, such as fatigue, and autonomic and neurocognitive symptoms may be caused by CoQ10 depletion.”  

Mitchondria, CoQ10 and Migraine

In a literature review published in the journal Headache (Markley, 2012), it was concluded,
"Arising from these extensive neurophysiological studies, the treatment of metabolic encephalomyopathies with pharmacological doses of riboflavin and coenzyme Q10 has shown positive benefits. The same treatment has now been applied to migraine, adding clinical support to the theory that migraine is a mitochondrial disorder.”

According to a Health Central Clinician,  CoQ10 is showing promise for preventing migraine. Research was presented at an American Headache Society meeting, showing 300 mg per day to be effective. It is also reported that gel capsules are absorbed and utilized best by the body. 

Taking CoQ10

As with all supplements, CoQ10 is not regulated by the FDA, so please check the manufacturers safety and purity standards.  You can check to make sure it is USP verified

Coenzyme Q10 should not be taken on an empty stomach because it will reduce absorption. It is absorbed best when taken with foods that have fat, such as olive oil (a healthy choice) because it is fat-soluble. Taking it in smaller doses several times a day will help maintain the level circulating in your body and provide the greatest benefit. 

While CoQ10 is relatively safe, as we age, so does our metabolism and our production of CoQ10. What is a recommended dose for one person might not be so for another, that’s why having the guidance of your physician is important.  If you experience common side effects, talk it over with your doctor, it could be you need to start with a lower dose. 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain ProAdvocate

Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  


Anonymous said...

Very nice post, impressive. its quite different from other posts. Thanks for sharing.

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The Pained Ink Slayer said...

Thank you +komal singh. I appreciate the feedback.

Unknown said...

My cousin eliminated debilitating migraines with 400mg of ubiquinone per day. In addition, CoQ10 has proven its effectiveness in cardiovascular medicine. Did you have a chance to review the Q-Symbio study? Amazing with a CoQ10-based 43% reduction in cardiovsascular mortality in heart failure patients. The researchers have excellent information on their website ( in addition to PubMed.

The Pained Ink Slayer said...

I take CoQ-10 religiously. No effect on migraine, thus far. But, you might be interested in another article I wrote for Prohealth.

Unknown said...

Hi Celeste
Your article was a great read. If you are feeling no effect you could be taking a CoQ10 with poor absorption. Maybe try switching to a pharmaceutical-grade CoQ10?!?

The Pained Ink Slayer said...

TY for the comment and the recommendation. There is a plethora of evidence that it helps with cardiovascular health and disorders with mitochondrial involvement. I have started taking it years ago when I started statin drugs for high cholesterol, which as you know can deplete our natural CoQ-10. My blood pressure is stable low, which is part of the sympathetic nervous system problems I experience, but nearly all my friends are on blood pressure medicine. I am a walking billboard for the benefits of CoQ-10 and Omega 3-6-9 on cardiovascular health. I don't tolerate higher doses, however. I have tried, too many GI problems. I will check into a pharmaceutical grade. I wish it had an effect on thyroiditis, because I have been in a flare with critical low TSH for several months.

Unknown said...

Hi Celeste,
Have you considered the research on thyroiditis and L-selenomethionine from an organic high-selenium yeast? Clinical trials have shown a 21-40% reduction in antibody levels after L-selenomethionine supplementation with up to 1/4 of patients normalizing their antibody levels. (three published studies to look for: Omer Tuker et al., Dr. Gartner et al. and Dr. Mazokopakis et al.).
In addition a combination of CoQ10 and selenium supplementation in healthy Swedish senior citizens (KiSel-10 study as well as a more recent follow up study) showed a reduced cardiovascular mortality of 54% - which means the combination of selenium and CoQ10 has added cardiovascular benefits (better contractile strength) as compared to only CoQ10:

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