Medicine: Coenzyme Q10

One of the therapeutic “rules” I try to follow is to not use isolated “nutrients” in lieu of complex foods, herbs, and animal organ preparations. The major exception I make to this rule is Coenzyme Q10 because, as you can see from the abstracts I have posted online, both the research evidence and my personal experience has taught me that CoQ10 is a valuable and safe medicine in a variety of situations.

I currently have four cancer patients whose cancers seem to be resolving, that is either the tumors have shrunk or the tumor markers (e.g., PSA or Thyroglobulin) have significantly decreased or gone down to normal. In three of these cases, adding CoQ10 in therapeutic doses to the regimen seemed to be the turning point. I have also seen good results with patients with a variety of ailments of the heart and/or circulation who have had positive responses to proper doses of CoQ10. And, as you can see from the studies, CoQ10 has shown promise in the treatment of a variety of neurological diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, migraine headaches, and others. So what is this magic substance?

CoQ10, also known as Ubiquinone, so named because it is ubiquitous in our cells, is a fat soluble (meaning found in fat, absorbed in fat, and utilized in fat metabolism) “nutrient” that is a catalyst for the production of energy from the mitochondria. This, of course, opens up whole vistas of insights and questions. Is there a special reason for these mitochondria that “produce” our energy? The best guess as to the origin of mitochondria which are found in most cells (but not all) is that they originally were free-living bacteria that parasitized our cells, somehow got “stuck” in there and eventually made us their home. That is, they embedded themselves in our individual (and other mammalian) cells so that, presumably, we would provide them with food and shelter. In return, they use our food and turn it into energy we need to carry out our lives. CoQ10 seems to be the prime catalyst or stimulant to this mitochondrial production of energy and probably its rate-limiting step. Therefore it affects all health processes because one cannot heal, white blood cells cannot migrate to the site of the infection or tumor, and circulation cannot flow properly without adequate energy being generated by our cells. This is the role of CoQ10.

CoQ10 is called an anti-oxidant in the literature, probably for this reason: With a lack of energy, tissues are left unprotected and become more subject to oxidative damage and, as one study shows, to the effects of agricultural chemicals. Therefore, CoQ10 is needed in every detoxification process in the same way that any process needs energy in order to run. One of the continual tragedies of current medical practice is the well known side effect of statin drugs. These drugs (Lipitor, Zocor, etc.) deplete the body of its CoQ10 stores, probably because being a toxin, it shifts the energy needs of the body in the direction of detoxing the drug, leaving the patient exposed to fatigue, congestive heart failure, and a host of neurological illnesses.

Also of note, the literature consistently suggests the use of high doses of CoQ10 in the treatment of the various illnesses, at least 200 mg per day in circulatory disorders and cancer and up to 2400 mg per day in neurological illnesses. As followers of the  Nourishing Traditionsdietary approach, we can probably do with less because the main dietary sources of CoQ10 are the animal fats and liver which we value so much in this regime. This is yet one more example of how the dietary wisdom of our forefathers is being vindicated in modern medical studies.

I have included below a selection of papers, studies and trials that have been conducted using CoQ10. Click on the link at Abstract to read the full abstract at the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s National Library of Medicine website,

Please note that this is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a doctor.

Selected Papers Abstracts link to NCBI’s National Library of Medicine PubMed site

Coenzyme Q10 affects expression of genes involved in cell signaling, metabolism and transport in human CaCo-2 cells.

Groneberg DA, Kindermann B, Althammer M, Klapper M, Vormann J, Littarru GP, Doring F.
Biomedical Research Institute, Otto-Heubner-Centre, Charite School of Medicine, Free University and Humboldt-University, D-13353 Berlin, Germany.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol.
 2005 Jun;37(6):1208-18. Epub 2005 Jan 19.

Coenzyme Q10 is an essential cofactor in the electron transport chain and serves as an important antioxidant in both mitochondria and lipid membranes. These findings indicate a prominent role of CoQ10 as a potent gene regulator. The presently identified comprehensive list of genes regulated by CoQ10 may be used for further studies to identify the molecular mechanism of CoQ10 on gene expression.

PMID: 15778085

Antioxidant treatment of patients with Friedreich ataxia: four-year follow-up.

Hart PE, Lodi R, Rajagopalan B, Bradley JL, Crilley JG, Turner C, Blamire AM, Manners D, Styles P, Schapira AH, Cooper JM.
University Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, England.

Arch Neurol. 2005 Apr;62(4):621-6.

This study is intended to evaluate the long-term efficacy of a combined antioxidant and mitochondrial enhancement therapy on the bioenergetics and clinical course of FRDA.

Publication Types: Clinical TrialPMID: 15824263

Role of mitochondria in neuronal cell death induced by oxidative stress; neuroprotection by Coenzyme Q10.

Somayajulu M, McCarthy S, Hung M, Sikorska M, Borowy-Borowski H, Pandey S.
Department of Biochemistry and Chemistry, 277-1 Essex Hall, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, ON, Canada N9B 3P4.

Neurobiol Dis. 2005 Apr;18(3):618-27.

Our study suggests that water-soluble Coenzyme Q10 acts by stabilizing the mitochondrial membrane when neuronal cells are subjected to oxidative stress. Therefore, Coenzyme Q10 has the potential to be used as a therapeutic intervention for neurodegenerative diseases.

PMID: 15755687

Efficacy of coenzyme Q10 in migraine prophylaxis: a randomized controlled trial.

Sandor PS, Di Clemente L, Coppola G, Saenger U, Fumal A, Magis D, Seidel L, Agosti RM, Schoenen J.
Headache and Pain Unit, Neurology Department, University Hospital Zurich, Frauenklinikstrasse 26, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland.

Neurology. 2005 Feb 22;64(4):713-5

We compared CoQ10 (3 x 100 mg/day) and placebo in 42 migraine patients in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. CoQ10 was superior to placebo for attack-frequency, headache-days and days-with-nausea in the third treatment month and well tolerated; CoQ10 is efficacious and well tolerated.

PMID: 15728298

Bovine cartilage, coenzyme Q10, and wheat grass therapy for primary peritoneal cancer.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Catonsville, MD 21250, USA.

J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Feb;11(1):161-5.

The accepted postsurgical first-line therapy for primary peritoneal cancer has been a regime of chemotherapy. This paper reports the case of an 89-year-old female who refused chemotherapy but accepted a nutritional alternative. Results after more than 4 years of the nutritional regime have been encouraging with regards to objective and subjective measures.

Publication Types: Case ReportsPMID: 15750376

Integrated treatment approach improves cognitive function in demented and clinically depressed patients.

Bragin V, Chemodanova M, Dzhafarova N, Bragin I, Czerniawski JL, Aliev G.
Stress Relief and MemoryTrainingCenter, Brooklyn, New York, USA.

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2005 Jan-Feb;20(1):21-6.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of an integrative treatment approach on cognitive performance.

PMID: 15751450

[ Coenzyme Q10: biochemistry, pathophysiology of its deficiency and potential benefit of an increased intake]

[Article in French]

Malchair P, Van Overmeire L, Boland A, Salmon E, Pierard L, Seutin V.
Service de Pharmacologie et CNCM, Universite de Liege.

Rev Med Liege. 2005 Jan;60(1):45-51.

After a brief reminding of the synthesis and function of coenzyme Q10, this article tries to summarise the current state of knowledge about the consequences of its deficiency and about the potential benefits of an increased intake of this coenzyme. We then describe the arguments in favour of such an increase in cardiac diseases and in Parkinson’s disease.

PMID: 15771317

Paraquat induces oxidative stress and neuronal cell death; neuroprotection by water-soluble Coenzyme Q10.

McCarthy S, Somayajulu M, Sikorska M, Borowy-Borowski H, Pandey S.
Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2004 Nov 15;201(1):21-31.

Neuronal cell death induced by oxidative stress is correlated with numerous neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and stroke. Pretreatment with CoQ10 was able to inhibit ROS generation from isolated mitochondria as well as the collapse of mitochondrial membrane potential. Our results indicate that water-soluble CoQ10 can prevent oxidative stress and neuronal damage induced by paraquat and therefore, can be used for the prevention and therapy of neurodegenerative diseases caused by environmental toxins.

PMID: 15519605

Pilot trial of high dosages of coenzyme Q10 in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Shults CW, Flint Beal M, Song D, Fontaine D.
Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0662, USA.

Exp Neurol. 2004 Aug;188(2):491-4.

The safety and tolerability of high dosages of coenzyme Q10 were studied in 17 patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in an open label study.

Publication Types: Clinical Trial; Clinical Trial, Phase IIPMID: 15246848

Coenzyme Q10 in patients with end-stage heart failure awaiting cardiac transplantation: a randomized, placebo-controlled study.

Berman M, Erman A, Ben-Gal T, Dvir D, Georghiou GP, Stamler A, Vered Y, Vidne BA, Aravot D.
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Heart-Lung Transplant Unit, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Campus, Potah Tikva, Israel.

Clin Cardiol. 2004 May;27(5):295-9.

The purpose of the present double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study was to assess the effect of CoQ10 on patients with end-stage heart failure and to determine if CoQ10 can improve the pharmacological bridge to heart transplantation. The administration of CoQ10 to heart transplant candidates led to a significant improvement in functional status, clinical symptoms, and quality of life.

Publication Types: Clinical Trial, Randomized Controlled TrialPMID: 15188947