Women with fibromyalgia can have significantly lower levels of CoQ10 and the antioxidant catalase than healthy women, reports Kimberly Beauchamp, ND
Fibromyalgia is a complex condition characterised by widespread pain, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, irritable bowel syndrome, unrefreshing sleep, reduced exercise tolerance, anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to light, noise, and odours. This condition is not well understood, and is difficult to treat, so a study finding that taking a co-enzyme Q10 supplement may help reduce headaches in women with fibromyalgia is welcome news.
Searching for fibromyalgia relief
No single cause for fibromyalgia has been discovered, but it’s thought that the condition could stem from a combination of stress, trauma, genetics, hormones, and certain infections. Antidepressants like duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor) are commonly used to help reduce pain, sleep issues, and anxiety associated with fibromyalgia. But while these drugs might help relieve some fibromyalgia symptoms, they don’t really seem to address the root of the problem.
Some studies have suggested that free radical–damage might be behind some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including headaches. Free radicals are unstable compounds that can damage tissues in the body and lead to inflammation.
Spanish researchers studied the effect of CoQ10—a potent antioxidant and cellular energy source—in women with fibromyalgia who experienced headaches. Ten women (average age 47 years) were given 300 mg of CoQ10 per day for three months. Ten other women with fibromyalgia served as the control group. All of the women were compared with 15 healthy women. CoQ10 levels and measures of other antioxidants, oxidative stress (caused by free radicals), and cellular energy stores were assessed in all of the women.
Women with fibromyalgia had significantly lower levels of CoQ10 and another important antioxidant (catalase) than the healthy women. They also had significantly higher markers of free radical–damage and 70% less cellular energy stored than the healthy women.
After taking CoQ10, the women with fibromyalgia had
- significantly higher CoQ10, catalase, and cellular energy stores,
- significantly lower levels of free radical damage markers, and
- marked improvement in headaches compared with pretreatment.
“Detection of CoQ10 deficiency and subsequent CoQ10 supplementation may result in clinical improvement in fibromyalgia,” said the researchers, recommending that future double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm their results.
There is no simple solution to healing fibromyalgia, but these tips may help keep your body in balance:
- Exercise, even if you don’t want to. A few studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia can benefit from getting regular exercise. Start slow, with a walk around the block, and gradually build up as you gain more stamina.
- Eat to beat fibro. Some studies have suggested that eating a vegetarian or vegan diet can help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms in some people.
- Sleep well. If poor sleep is one of your main fibro symptoms, consider sipping a cup of warm milk with a sprinkle of nutmeg at bedtime. Melatonin may also be useful as a sleep aid in people with fibromyalgia. Talk with your doctor about how much melatonin might be right for you.
(Plos One 2012;doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035677)
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her doctoral degree from Bastyr University, the nation’s premier academic institution for science-based natural medicine. She co-founded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, where she practiced whole family care with an emphasis on nutritional counselling, herbal medicine, detoxification, and food allergy identification and treatment. Her blog, Eat Happy, helps take the drama out of healthy eating with real food recipes and nutrition news that you can use. Dr. Beauchamp is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.