Attempting to manage neuropathy can be troublesome at times. There might even come a time when you might feel that there is really no treatment that can help you out. With that being said, there are ways that you can manage the symptoms of neuropathy.
Some nutrients, such as CoQ10, have been shown to help with the symptoms. However, before you start taking any type of supplement, it is important to get a good idea about what exactly it is and the possible effects.
Being able to understand what you are putting into your body is important when it comes to treating any illness.
What Is CoQ10?
CoQ10, also known as Coenzyme Q10, is a compound that your body produces naturally. Simply put, it is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is present within all human cells.
There are two main forms of CoQ10: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. The first form, ubiquinone, needs to be converted into its active form, which is ubiquinol, before your body can readily absorb it.
While it is everywhere inside your body, it is most commonly found in the mitochondria of the cell.
The Role of CoQ10
Inside the mitochondria, CoQ10 plays a major role in energy production, providing energy to the rest of your body so that you are able to function. In addition to assisting with energy production, CoQ10 also inhibits free radical generation of cells and prevents cell damage.
This is where it can be helpful for people who suffer from neuropathy. Over time, the amount of CoQ10 in your body will decrease. Other issues, such as diseases, can speed up the deterioration of CoQ10.
While CoQ10 is available through sources of food, namely fish, meat, and whole grains, the amount in food isn’t enough to significantly affect the level in your body. Thankfully, CoQ10 is available through supplements, usually in the form of capsules, tablets, and IV infusions.
Are There Side Effects?
As CoQ10 is commonly found throughout the body, there are generally very few side effects when it comes to taking it. In fact, it is often more beneficial to take it than to not take it.
Of course, whenever you begin taking any sort of supplement, you should always consult with your doctor beforehand no matter how safe the drug might appear to be. With that in mind, the side effects that CoQ10 has are generally mild. The side effects can include issues such as:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite and nausea
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Headaches and irritability
- Light sensitivity and dizziness
With that in mind, you should be more careful if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as CoQ10 supplements haven’t been tested for those people yet. You generally shouldn’t take CoQ10 if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
As for interactions with other drugs, many professionals conclude that there is only one risk for drug interactions. Anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin and Jantoven) can be made less effective when you take CoQ10 supplements. In turn, this will increase the chances of a blood clot.
If you are on an anticoagulant, you should talk to your doctor about taking CoQ10 and if it is right for treating your neuropathy. Another thing you should talk to your doctor about is how CoQ10 can sometimes lower blood pressure levels.
This can be problematic for people who have trouble with their blood pressure. With that being said, you should generally talk to your doctor before taking anything different.
Studies on CoQ10
When it comes to studies that show the effects of CoQ10 and neuropathy, there aren’t many studies that pertain to humans.
1. Reduced Nerve Degeneration
One study showed that in a controlled trial of 49 people who had both Type 2 diabetes and neuropathy, symptoms improved by about 50% after 12 weeks of a daily dose of 400mg of CoQ10.
Compared to the placebo group, the group of people who tried CoQ10 had significant improvement.
Lipid peroxidation was reduced significantly in the people who took CoQ10 over those in the placebo group. This means that the oxidative degeneration of lipids, which commonly line nerves, was reduced in the group of people who took CoQ10.
2. Visual Acuity Improved
Another study that was done on a human involved treating Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), a type of neuropathy that affects the eyes predominantly in young adult males.
Ultimately, the patient’s visual acuity had improved significantly within four months of being treated with CoQ10.
In this particular case, the patient’s dose began at 90mg a day, increasing to 160mg a day in the second month and increasing again to 200mg a day from the third month to the twelfth month where it stopped.
The visual improvement persisted for the next four years despite treatment being stopped in the twelfth month.
This was unusual as visual recovery for LHON is generally not good. In fact, visual recovery typically doesn’t happen before 12 months, unlike what happened when this patient was treated with CoQ10. This means that CoQ10 can be used to help treat the effects of LHON as well as possibly restore lost vision to some extent.
3. Studies Done on Animals
Although there have been few studies done on people, there have been several studies done on animals, specifically mice with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and the neuropathy that follows.
For instance, on January 8th, 2013, a study was done on how CoQ10 prevents peripheral neuropathy and attenuates neuron loss in a mouse with Type 2 diabetes.
In this study, the effects of CoQ10 and a six-month “long-term” treatment were examined in this mouse.
While a diabetic mouse will generally experience severe symptoms at the age of eight months, when started on a treatment of daily CoQ10 doses at the age of seven weeks, there were almost no issues present.
In addition to this, there was a 33% neuronal loss in the lumbar 5 dorsal root ganglia compared to the control mouse when they were both eight months old. Another benefit of the CoQ10 treatment in these mice was the down-regulation of phospholipase C β3 in the DRGs of these diabetic mice.
This is a key molecule for pain signaling, meaning that after six months of CoQ10 treatment, these mice weren’t feeling nearly as much pain. Ultimately, this study “may represent a promising therapeutic strategy” of using CoQ10 to treat Type 2 diabetes-related neuropathy.
4. Neuropathic Pain Prevention
Later that year, another study showed promising results for treating neuropathy resulting from Type 1 diabetes in mice.
Low-dose, long-term treatment of CoQ10 prevented the development of neuropathic pain, meaning that neuropathy and the following pain wasn’t nearly as developed as it would have been without the CoQ10 treatment.
Increased lipid peroxidation, or the degeneration of lipids, was reduced in those who took the CoQ10 treatment as well, which indicates that this could be used to prevent the degeneration of lipids.
Proinflammatory factors were also reduced in the peripheral and central nervous system in those who took CoQ10. What this means is that CoQ10 may ultimately reduce the effects of neuropathy, inflammation associated with Type 1 diabetes, and the degeneration of lipids in the body.
What Does This Mean for You?
Through numerous studies both on mice and people, it can be concluded that CoQ10 may help to prevent neuropathy whether it’s from a hereditary condition or if it’s induced from Type 1 or 2 diabetes. In fact, CoQ10 offers a low-risk, high-benefit solution to managing neuropathy.
Since the symptoms of taking CoQ10 are generally mild if you experience them at all, the benefit of being able to manage the symptoms and pain of neuropathy is well worth it.
From the studies done that show about a 50% improvement in symptoms to the studies that show the overall improvement when given to mice, CoQ10 shown that it can be a real solution to treating neuropathy.
When it comes to the specifics of what CoQ10 does, there’s quite a bit that it can do. As shown in the first study, out of the people who tested daily doses of CoQ10 for 12 weeks, the majority of them had symptoms improve by 50%. This means that CoQ10 can play a role in the pain management of neuropathy, which is incredibly important for maintaining your quality of life.
Longer Nerve Life
The degeneration of lipids in the body was also reduced, which helps to prolong nerve life. With neuropathy, prolonged nerve life is very important.
The second study also shows that CoQ10 plays an enormous role in visual recovery in people who suffer from LHON. Not only was the recovery quicker than normal but more vision was recovered than normal in people who suffer from LHON.
The length of time that this patient retained his vision was also well past the time when he stopped the CoQ10, meaning that the supplement works for quite a while even after you stop taking it. This goes to show that CoQ10 may be used to lessen the effects of this form of neuropathy.
When it comes to the studies on animals, the research certainly looks promising, especially since it works with both types of diabetes.
From the decreased inflammation and degeneration of lipids to the lessened pain and effects of neuropathy, CoQ10 is quickly proving itself to be a good solution for neuropathy associated with diabetes. There’s a good chance that CoQ10 can also help with quite a few other forms of neuropathy as well.