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Is CoQ10 Effective for Migraine Headaches?

What is Co-enzyme Q10?

Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring substance found in all cells of the human body in all tissues and organs. It has two main functions in the body. First, it functions as a fat soluble antioxidant that fights free radicals that can cause cellular damage. Second, it plays a very important role in the production of energy at the cellular level. Without CoQ10, human life will cease to exist. The highest concentrations of CoQ10 are found in the heart, brain and muscle where oxygen consumption is at the highest.

Normally, the body is able to produce adequate levels of CoQ10 needed to maintain life processes and health. However, CoQ10 levels decrease with age. It is further depleted by diseases such as heart failure and kidney failure. Majority of our CoQ10 contents is synthesized by the body and the rest can be obtained from food sources. It can be found in red meat, fish, and green vegetables, but the amounts derived from these foods are usually not enough. Supplemental CoQ10 is very important especially in older adults. CoQ10 has been used to prevent and treat a variety of health conditions including migraine.

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What is migraine headache?

Migraine is a common type of headache that may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light that may last for 4 to 72 hours. In many people, a throbbing, moderate to severe pain is felt only on one side of the head and is aggravated by physical activity, light, sound, or smell. It is three times more common in women than in men and affects those 10 to 40 years of age, recurring periodically until 50 to 60 years old. Treatments are administered to lessen frequency of attacks, blunt its severity and reduce the pain intensity.

What is the role of Co-enzyme Q10 in migraine headache?

Several theories are given about the cause of migraine headaches but the exact cause is still unknown. Migraine can be caused by failure of the mitochondria to produce enough energy. Since CoQ10 is an important catalyst in energy production, its benefits in migraine have been studied.

A study of 32 migraine patients resulted in reduced frequency of headaches and lesser number of days per attack with 150 mg daily dose of CoQ10 supplements. The average number of days of all patients is 7.34 days and this was reduced to 2.95 days at the end of the trial. Nine out of ten people experienced a minimum of 25 percent reduction in the number of days with migraine headache compared to no treatment. In addition to that, the average number of attacks within 60 days was reduced from 4.85 to 2.81 by the end of the trial.

This study points out that CoQ10 treatment for migraine should last at least 4 weeks before benefits can be seen. Maximum beneficial effects were seen between 5 to 12 weeks of continued use (Rozen et. al., 2002).

Another study compared CoQ10 to a placebo. After 3 months of treatment of 300 mg CoQ10 daily, the frequency of migraine headaches and the number of days with headache and nausea were reduced. (Sandor et. al., 2005).

Starting a CoQ10 regimen for migraine headaches should come with a commitment to take the supplement for 4 to 5 months using a daily dose of 150 to 300 mg. However, CoQ10 is not effective for all. Some respond to the regimen after a few weeks and some simply do not experience any change. When seeking treatment for your symptoms, it is important to tell your physician that you are taking CoQ10.

 

References
  • Rozen TD, Oshinsky ML, Gebeline CA, Bradley KC, Young WB, Shechter AL, et al. Open label trial of co-enzyme Q10 as a migraine preventive. Cephalalgia 2002 Mar; 22(2):137-41.
  • Sandor PS, Di Clemente L, Coppola G, Saenger U, Fumal A, Magis D, et al. Efficacy of co-enzyme Q10 in migraine prophylaxis: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology 2005 Feb 22; 64(4):713-5.
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