Put the Brakes on Parkinson’s With Coenzyme Q10
Julian Whitaker, MD
It begins with trembling or shaking, usually in the fingers of one hand. Over time the tremor worsens, and other symptoms such as slow movements, muscle rigidity, and difficulty walking appear. Patients with Parkinson’s disease are eventually given prescriptions for Sinemet or other drugs, and they may be offered deep brain electrical stimulation, stem-cell or gene therapy somewhere down the road. But the one thing they want most, hope for improvement, they do not get.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have completed a study showing that coenzyme Q10, a nutritional supplement sold in health food stores, offers something rare to the 1.5 million Americans who suffer with Parkinson’s disease: hope.
Parkinson’s Disease and Free Radical Damage
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a sharp decline in dopamine, a key neurotransmitter that stimulates the brain and affects movement. This decline is caused by the destruction of neurons, or brain cells, that produce dopamine. As dopamine levels fall, other neurons compensate and become overactive, which further contributes to the symptoms of the disease.
Nobody knows why the dopamine-producing neurons die. A genetic predisposition has been identified, as has a link to certain environmental toxins. Another suspect, which is a factor in many degenerative diseases, is free radical damage. Levels of some free radical fighting antioxidants are known to be low in patients with Parkinson’s, especially in the dopamine-generating neurons.
Glutathione and Other Antioxidants Slow Disease Progression
Although the free radical aspect of Parkinson’s disease is ignored by conventional medicine, informed physicians have been using it to their patients’ advantage for years. Intravenous administration of glutathione, one of the body’s most potent antioxidants, has been demonstrated to significantly slow the progression of Parkinson’s, and it is the treatment of choice for this condition at the Whitaker Wellness Institute.
Now, coenzyme Q10 opens up a whole new avenue of treatment and optimism for Parkinson’s patients, for coenzyme Q10 is not only an extremely powerful antioxidant, but it also helps reverse mitochondrial dysfunction, yet another factor in Parkinson’s disease.
The mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells, where adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel that runs your cells, is produced. Coenzyme Q10 is an essential participant in ATP production, so crucial that it is sometimes called the “sparkplug” of the system. Previous studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 levels in the mitochondria of Parkinson’s patients are subnormal, and that mice with Parkinson’s given oral coenzyme Q10 supplements have a reduction in dopamine loss in the brain.
Coenzyme Q10 Slowed Progression by 44 Percent
In a study published in the Archives of Neurology, 80 patients with early Parkinson’s disease were randomly assigned to take coenzyme Q10 daily in a dose of 300 mg, 600 mg, or 1,200 mg, or a placebo. They were followed for up to 16 months, or until their symptoms progressed to the point that they required drugs to control symptoms.
The results were astounding. The patients who had taken coenzyme Q10 progressed much more slowly than those on placebo. The difference was most notable in the group taking the highest dose; these patients experienced a 44 percent reduction in worsening of symptoms.
Incredibly, the lead researcher cautioned against Parkinson’s patients taking high-dose coenzyme Q10 before further research is done. Given the safety of this nutritional supplement—and the dearth of effective therapies for this progressive disease—I find this sort of “advice” irrational and irresponsible. You can bet that we’re prescribing 1,200 mg of coenzyme Q10 to each and every one of our patients with this condition.
- To speak to a Patient Services Representative about our treatment programs for Parkinson’s disease, call (866) 944-8253 or click here.
- Coenzyme Q10 can be found in health food stores or purchased by calling (800) 810-6655.
- Schults, CW et al. Effects of coenzyme Q10 in early Parkinson disease: evidence of slowing of the functional decline. Arch Neurol. 2002 Oct;59(10):1541-50.
Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Copyright 2006. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.