Research suggests that CoQ10 can benefit Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a complex and baffling disease that incapacitates as many as half a million people in the US.
CFS is a devastating and mysterious illness characterized by overwhelming fatigue that is not relieved by rest. Sufferers may find the tiredness and weakness so extreme that it makes everyday activities impossible, and short-term memory may also be impaired. Other typical symptoms of CFS include sore throat, tender lymph nodes, joint and muscle pain, and headaches. Some CFS patients also report bloating, nausea, night sweats or chills, visual disturbances, dizziness, and heart palpitations.
CFS affects all racial and ethnic groups, but is more common among women than men and usually strikes people between the ages of 20 and 40, though it is occasionally diagnosed in teens and children.
The cause of CFS is unknown, and to date there is no clinical test that can diagnose the condition. Chronic viral infection, hormonal imbalance, and immune system dysfunction have all been suggested as potential causal factors, and it is believed that in some cases at least, multiple triggers are involved.
How CoQ10 can benefit CFS
The results of several small studies suggest that supplemental coenzyme Q10 can play a role in alleviating or managing CFS. A natural substance found in every cell, the coenzyme is important to immune function and acts as both an energy producer and an antioxidant.
CoQ10 is naturally present in the cellular mitochondria, where it helps break down food and convert it to energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Studies have shown that ATP deficiency is common in people who have CFS. Boosting blood levels of the coenzyme can increase ATP levels, which in turn makes more energy available.
In addition, CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant which can prevent and perhaps even repair certain types of cellular damage. Antioxidants are substances with the ability to neutralize free radicals, chemically unstable molecules that scavenge and damage the cells with which they interact. Free radical damage has been implicated in a host of health problems and is known to be a factor in immune system dysfunction, which some experts believe plays a role in the development of CFS.
It is believed that the coenzyme’s formidable antioxidant properties could potentially protect the immune system and perhaps even help reverse damage that has already occurred.
Though no major clinical trials have measured the effectiveness of the coenzyme in the treatment or management of CFS, small studies and surveys found that more than half of CFS patients given CoQ10 supplements reported feeling better.