The first study to look at the effectiveness of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplements in the treatment of fibromyalgia has had positive results and implicates oxidative stress as a contributing factor in the pain syndrome.
Supplementation with CoQ10 effectively raised blood levels of this vital substance in fibromyalgia patients, reduced oxidative stress, and brought clinical improvement in symptoms including fatigue, pain and migraines.
CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant and plays a key role in energy metabolism by acting as an electron carrier in the mitochondrial respiratory chain. It has been recommended to patients suffering from fibromyalgia by specialist doctors and nutritionists for many years and sufferers have also frequently self-treated with the supplement. With strong anecdotal evidence and logical rationale for its use it is perhaps surprising that no formal studies of CoQ10 as a treatment for fibromyalgia have been undertaken, until now.
Researchers from Seville, Spain, had previously shown that fibromyalgia patients exhibited abnormally low concentrations of CoQ10 in their blood cells. They also theorised that this would lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and subsequent oxidative stress - an excess of highly reactive and damaging oxygen molecules. The next step was to find out if supplementation with CoQ10 could restore cellular levels and address these problems, while bringing sympomatic relief to patients.
In a series of case studies the researchers first assessed five fibromyalgia sufferers ranging from 21 to 66 years old, measuring their CoQ10 levels and using the Visual Analogical Scale of pain (VAS) and the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) to assess symptom severity. All had daily episodes of intense musculoskeletal pain and fatigue, stiffness, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and depression and three of them had daily episodes of migraine.
Each patient was then treated with 300 mg of CoQ10 daily (in three divided doses) for nine months and then reassessed.
It was found that CoQ10 supplementation produced significant clinical improvement in major symptoms such as fatigue, pain and migraines. Additionally CoQ10 treatment successfully raised blood CoQ10 levels and decreased oxidative stress.
The investigators concluded that “the results of this study indicate that oxidative stress could be implicated in the severity of the clinical symptoms in fibromyalgia and suggest that CoQ10 and antioxidant therapy needs to be examined as a treatment in fibromyalgia.”
They acknowledge that further study using more rigorous scientific methods (i.e. randomised controlled trial) is needed, their investigations suggest CoQ10 could be a safe, well-tolerated and economical treatment for fibromyalgia.
Source: Cordero MD Alcocer-Gómez E de Miguel M Cano-García FJ Luque CM Fernández-Riejo P Fernández AM Sánchez-Alcazar JA (2011) Coenzyme Q(10): a novel therapeutic approach for Fibromyalgia? case series with 5 patients Mitochondrion 11(4):623-5