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Can Q10 supplements prevent migraines?

Studies have shown that sufferers of recurrent migraine headaches may benefit from supplements of the vitamin-like substance coenzyme Q10.

Can Q10 supplements prevent migraines?Migraines may be caused by a number of things and cannot be cured as such. A variety of medications have been designed specifically to treat migraines and, in addition, certain drugs that are commonly used to treat other disorders may even help relieve or prevent migraines. However, an increasing number of migraine sufferers seek more natural ways to deal with their recurrent migraine attacks and one remedy that has attracted a substantial amount of interest is the vitamin-like compound coenzyme Q10.

Mitochondrial dysfunction

Essentially, coenzyme Q10 is the "spark plug" that controls the energy turnover in all human cells, including brain cells. This process takes place inside some small "powerhouses" called the mitochondria. Actually, some researchers link migraine to mitochondrial dysfunction and have asked the question: Could there be a link between low Q10 levels and an increased risk of migraine headaches?

Fewer days with migraine

In 2002, a group of scientists from the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, the United States, set out to test how supplementation with coenzyme Q10 worked on 32 migraine patients. The study1 was "open-label", which means that there was no placebo group. Each participant got 150 of CoQ10 daily for a three-month period, and by the end of the study, 61% of the patients had reduced the number of days with migraine headache by more than 50%. Although this was a very encouraging result, more research was needed to find out if this was merely coincidence.

Half as many attacks

A Swizz-Belgic study2 of 42 migraine patients, which was conducted after that, provided a better picture. The volunteers, 81% of whom were women, had an average age of 39 years. The patients had been experiencing 4-5 attacks per month on average. All participants were randomly assigned to treatment with 300 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily or placebo for a period of three months.
After three months had passed, 48% of the patients using Q10 had achieved a greater than 50% reduction in the number of migraine attacks, compared with 14% in the control group. In addition, the coenzyme Q10 treatment significantly reduced the number of days with headache and the number of days with nausea and vomiting. In both the above mentioned studies the coenzyme Q10 supplements were well tolerated and did not cause undesirable side effects.

Also useful in adolescence

The young are also affected by migraines and researchers have looked into the effect of coenzyme Q10 on this age segment, as well. A study3 of 120 children and adolescents with migraine headaches were randomly assigned in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design to receive daily supplements of coenzyme Q10 (100 mg) or placebo for 224 days. At the cross-over point where the groups were switched, data material from 76 patients was available, and 50 patients were analyzed at the endpoint with respect to overall headache improvement and headache disability. Compared with the placebo group, the Q10-treated patients had a significantly greater improvement in migraine frequency in the first four weeks based on subjective evaluation, suggesting that coenzyme Q10 may lead to earlier improvement in headache severity.


Cephalagia 2002;22:137-41

Neurology 2005;64:713-5

Cephalagia 2011, June;31(8):897-905

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