Fibromyalgia pain may be helped with Q10 but also by treating underlying causes
Supplementing with large doses of Q10 may help reduce pain and fatigue in people who suffer from fibromyalgia. An optimal treatment of the disease may even require focusing on underlying causes.
Fibromyalgia is a type of muscular rheumatism that affects an increasing number of people, mainly women. The symptoms typically include burning muscle pain, impaired muscle strength and pain around the tendons and joints. The human body has around 18 (nine pairs) so-called "tender points". 11 of these are particularly sensitive to pressure. The disease may also cause fatigue, sleep disturbances, headache, cold intolerance, digestive problems, impaired memory, concentration problems, and depression as a result of the persistent symptoms.
Dysfunctions in the mitochondria of the cells and lack of Q10
Although there can be many different underlying causes of fibromyalgia, several studies have shown that both dysfunctions in the mitochondria of muscle cells and lack of Q10 are involved. All cells contain mitochondria, which are minute "powerhouses" that convert fat, carbohydrate, and protein into energy with help from coenzyme Q10 and oxygen. If the mitochondria fail to function properly it affects not only the energy metabolism but even other functions, which the mitochondria undertake in the cells - including monitoring, calcium signaling, and cell division. Unlike cells in general, mitochondria are not able to repair to their own DNA. This makes them highly vulnerable to free radical activity, which is increased tremendously by stress, poisoning, and inflammation. Q10, incidentally, is the only antioxidant that protects mitochondria against oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
We humans produce the major part of our Q10 endogenously, but this production decreases as we grow older. Stress, certain diseases, and various types of medicine may contribute to reducing the body's Q10 levels.
Groundbreaking Q10 study
The Spanish doctor Mario Cordero and his colleagues conducted a groundbreaking study of 20 female fibromyalgia sufferers. For a period of 40 days, half the women took three 100 mg Q10 capsules daily, while the other half took dummy pills (placebo). The study was double-blind, which means that neither the researchers nor the patients knew who got what until after the study had been completed and the results were unveiled.
According to the self-reported feedback from the fibromyalgia questionnaires, the Q10 group noted a 52% improvement of their symptoms compared with the placebo group. More precisely, the Q10-treated patients had 65% less pain, and the number of painful tender points was reduced by 44% compared with the placebo group.
The researchers also observed less inflammation, improvements of various antioxidant enzymes, and improved mitochondrial regeneration.
On behalf of the study results, the researchers consider daily supplementation with three times 100 mg of Q10 a useful new therapy form that not only reduces pain but also increases quality of life in fibromyalgia patients.
Chemical signaling substances, pain perception and Q10
Researchers have also found that fibromyalgia changes the concentrations of certain chemical signaling substances that are important for the nervous system, the pain perception, and the body's response to stress. For instance, the researchers have focused on an enzyme called AMPK (AMP-Activated Protein Kinase), which generally controls the energy levels in cells where Q10, as mentioned earlier, is also involved.
Q10 may help children with fibromyalgia
In another study researchers observed increased oxidative stress and lack of Q10 in children suffering from fibromyalgia. They gave the children supplements of Q10 (3 x 100 mg daily) for 12 weeks. Q10 levels increased and the children were significantly less tired according to their feedback in fibromyalgia questionnaires. The scientists concluded that Q10 supplements are well suited and obvious for children with fibromyalgia.
Other causes such as slow metabolism, hypersensitivity, and infections
Besides low Q10 levels, many patients with fibromyalgia have slow metabolism, also known as Hashimoto's disease, a condition that is caused by autoimmune reactions and inflammation of the thyroid gland. The majority of these patients have neither been given the correct diagnosis nor the proper treatment which, needless to say, is essential. Also, there is evidence suggesting that slow metabolism may be a result of a selenium deficiency, a problem that is widespread. Selenium supports various enzymes and antioxidants that control thyroid hormones, protect cells against oxidative stress, counteract inflammation, and help Q10 function optimally. It is therefore plausible that the Q10 therapy may be improved with selenium supplements.
Fibromyalgia may also be triggered by viral infections such as Epstein Barr that causes mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus (Herpes-related virus), and HHV6 (Human Herpes Virus 6), all of which are quite common. In addition, science has its eye on food allergies - especially intolerance towards gluten (wheat and other types of grain) and aspartame.
Cordero MD, el al. Can Coenzyme Q10 Improve Clinical and Molecular Parameters in Fibromyalgia? Antioxid & Redox Signal 2013. E-pub ahead of print.
Miyamae T et al. Increased oxidative stress and coenzyme Q10 deficiency in juvenile fibromyalgia: amelioration of hypercholesterolemia and fatigue by ubiquinol-Q10 supplementation. PubMed 2013
Ciapuccini R et al. Aspartame-induces fibromyalgia, an unusual but curable cause of chronic pain. PubMed 2010
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