Coenzyme Q10 Improves Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
June 16, 2005—Supplementing with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) improves some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study published in Neuroscience Letters (2003;341:201–4).
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurological condition characterized by the loss of cells in the brain that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter with many roles including helping to maintain normal muscle tone. Tremors, particularly in the hands, are a common early symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Muscles throughout the body become increasingly rigid as the disease progresses, and paralysis marks the late stage of the disease. Other symptoms can include visual changes, such as decreasing color distinction, and changes in brain function, leading to dementia in about half of all cases. Parkinson’s disease is treated with dopamine replacement or with drugs that act like dopamine in the nervous system. These drugs can relieve the symptoms of the disease, but they eventually lose their effects and have significant side effects.
In recent years there has been increasing interest in the ability of various antioxidants to protect the neurons that produce dopamine and slow the disease’s progression. Vitamin E, selenium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and melatonin are among the antioxidants that have shown promising effects in test tube and animal trials. CoQ10 is an antioxidant produced by the cells of the heart muscle; studies have demonstrated its benefits in preventing heart disease and possibly some cancers. Recent research has suggested that CoQ10 supplementation might also benefit people with some neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
In the current study, 28 people with Parkinson’s disease were randomly assigned to one of two groups: one group received 180 mg of CoQ10 two times daily, the other received placebo. At the end of four weeks, participants were evaluated using a test of visual color discrimination, motor function assessment, and overall disease rating scores. Visual color discrimination improved significantly more in the group receiving CoQ10 than in the placebo group. Overall disease rating scores decreased significantly in the CoQ10 group, however this change was not significantly greater than the decrease in scores in the placebo group. Motor function was not significantly better at the end of the trial for either group.
The results of this study show that a modest amount of CoQ10 can bring about improvement in some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in a short period of time. Two previous studies have examined the effects of various amounts of CoQ10 in people with Parkinson’s disease for longer periods of time. Participants in one previous controlled trial received either 300 mg, 600 mg, or 1,200 mg of CoQ10 daily, and the improvement in their overall disease rating scores over a period of 16 months was found to increase with each increase in amount of CoQ10. In another preliminary trial, however, 200 mg daily was found not to be helpful to people with Parkinson’s disease after three months. More trials are needed to confirm the benefits and identify the optimal amount of CoQ10 for treating Parkinson’s disease.
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Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, Vermont, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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