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 Integrative Medicine: Coenzyme Q10 

Although CoQ was discovered in the United States almost forty years ago, it is still not widely prescribed in western countries. In contrast, in Japan. where most of the research has been done in people, it is one of the most widely used drugs. Human testing began in Japan in 1963 on a case by case basis, but it was not until 1974 when sufficient supplies of pure CoQ10 became available, that clinical trials could be carried out. The reasons for CoQ10 not being used more frequently in the U.S. and other western countries is probably the same old story of money. Being a natural substance, CoQ10 is not patentable as a new drug and therefore profits are severely limited. Not only are potential profits from CoQ10 limited, but also profits from competitive patentable drugs with similar actions are threatened by the potential safety and efficacy of CoQ10 for a wide variety of disorders. In recent years, the FDA has attempted to remove CoQ10 from the shelves of health food stores, but has so far been unsuccessful.

Beneficial Uses for Heart Conditions
Japanese scientists, as early as 1976, showed that CoQ10 was helpful in heart conditions. In one study, seventeen patients with mild congestive heart failure were given 30 mg/day of CoQ10. Every patient improved in 4 weeks and 53% became symptom free. In another, more recent and much larger, randomized placebo controlled, double-blind study, 641 patients with more severe congestive heart failure were given either a placebo or approximately 150 mg/day of CoQ10 for one year. The number of patients requiring hospitalization because of worsening failure was 38% lower in the CoQ10 group. Episodes of life threatening pulmonary edema (a buildup of fluid in the lungs was 60% less in the treatment group. Patients with life threatening cardiomyopathy have reduced levels of CoQ10 in their heart muscles. When CoQ10 was given to a group of these patients, the strength of their heart muscle increased significantly, and their survival time increased three-fold.

Another use for CoQ10 in heart patients is in those with angina pectoris. In one double-blind study, treatment with 150 mg/day of CoQ10 for only 4 weeks, the episodes of chest pain was reduced in the treatment group by 53%. Also, exercise tolerance was increased. One of the chemotherapeutic drugs used most by oncologists is Adriamycin. Although Adriamycin is believed to be effective for many different cancers, such as breast cancer, it carries a serious risk of cardiac toxicity and a significant number of patients treated with this drug die from the complications of cardiomyopathy associated with Adriamycin rather than the cancer, itself.

In one small study of 14 cancer patients receiving Adriamycin, half were given 100 mg/day of CoQ10. All 7 of the patients given Adriamycin alone developed cardiac toxicity, whereas none of those given CoQ10 developed this complication. Furthermore, the CoQ10 did not interfere with the therapeutic effects of Adriamycin. Some studies have also shown that CoQ10 can help to lower blood pressure. In one study, 16 people were given 60 mg/day of CoQ10 for 5 to 16 weeks. In all cases there was a drop in either systolic BP, diastolic BP or both, but these effects did not occur until the patients had been on the CoQ10 for 4 to 12 weeks. Similarly, in a more recent double-blind placebo controlled group, subjects either received a placebo or 100 mg/day of CoQ10 for 10 weeks. No change occurred in the placebo group, but the CoQ10 group had reduced systolic and diastolic values.

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 About The Author
Michael Schachter MD, FACAM Director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine, Michael B. Schachter, M.D., is a 1965 graduate of Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. He is board certified in Psychiatry, a Certified Nutrition......more
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