In the United States alone, it is thought that more than 20 million individuals suffer from some form of neuropathy, with experts suggesting the actual number may be much, much higher given that neuropathy is often misdiagnosed due to its varied and sometimes complex symptoms.
What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, commonly referred to as peripheral neuropathy, is the medical diagnosis used to describe a spectrum of conditions that involve damage to the peripheral nervous system.
This system, comprised of a complex multitude of neurons, forms a communication network between your central nervous system (spinal cord and brain) and other body parts and tissues.
This network of nerves sends sensory feedback to the central nervous system (CNS), including pain. These nerves also communicate with cells and tissues to control everything from our hearts pumping to digestion.
Think of these nerves like the cables connecting parts of a complex computer network.
When they are performing as intended, information flows and everything runs smoothly without issue.
But when damaged, they can malfunction, causing a myriad of issues.
This disruption of signaling is most commonly due to:
Loss of intended signal somewhere along the neural network
Errors of some kind that distort the message being sent
As a result, symptoms of these neural issues may range from mild irritation and inconvenience, to disabling and even life-threatening conditions in severe cases. Pain is one of the most commonly associated symptoms of neuropathy and may develop over days, weeks or years depending on the underlying cause.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Our cells utilize Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, for respiration and energy production. CoQ10 also regulates cell death and body temperature, supports antioxidant defense, and aids in repairing DNA.
Within the cell, mitochondria are the energy-producing powerhouses that fuel the cell.
And as such, energy production, or cellular ATP, needs a myriad of enzymes, micronutrients, and other factors to take place.
When peripheral neuropathy happens, scientists have also observed dysfunction within the mitochondria.
CoQ10 supplements do a great deal to help improve dysfunction in the mitochondria and boost antioxidant defenses.
CoQ10 is highly available to the general public in the form of ubiquinone or ubiquinol.
When there is a deficiency of CoQ10 in the body, ATP is reduced and reactive oxygen species that contribute to oxidative stress greatly increase in number. As such, oxidative stress has been identified as one of the main causes of peripheral neuropathy by doctors and scientists.
In light of this, CoQ10 has been proven time and again through scientific studies as a supplement that helps to reduce oxidative stress, which will relieve pain from neuropathy and protect against neurotoxicity.
How CoQ10 Helps Alleviate Neuropathy
Scientific studies have shown that CoQ10 positively effects neuropathy pain in that it:
- Prevents nerve degeneration and protects nerve health
- Improves antioxidant defenses
- Prevents neurotoxicity and neuropathy caused by chemotherapy
- Prevents and treats neuropathy caused by statin drugs
- Reduces nerve pain
- Reduces inflammation
- Prevents diabetic neuropathy and manages blood sugar levels
Evidence-Based Benefits For Treating Neuropathy
Scientific studies have proven that regularly taking CoQ10 has many benefits when it comes to treating and managing diabetic neuropathy.
1. It Can Help to Treat and Ultimately Protect Diabetic Neuropathy
Studies conducted show that oxidative stress is higher in diabetic patients than in healthy individuals. And levels of CoQ10 were significantly lower in diabetic patients than in healthy patients.
These low CoQ10 levels demonstrated that diabetic patients had a decreased antioxidant capacity, as well as poor control over their blood sugar levels, attributed to an increase in oxidative stress.
A study published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications found that patients with type 2 diabetes had higher CoQ10 levels than those who did not have diabetes.
Overall, raised lipid, glucose, and inflammation levels are what caused increased oxidative stress and elevated CoQ10 levels — which ultimately led to higher risks for heart issues and peripheral neuropathy.
Levels of CoQ10 are often not where they should be in diabetic patients because of oxidative stress and decreased antioxidant defenses.
So, it makes sense that taking CoQ10 supplements will help when it comes to treating diabetic neuropathy.
In fact, another study found that regular supplementation with CoQ10 lowered diabetic neuropathy pain because it also reduced oxidative stress. In this instance, CoQ10 served as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
Alpha Lipoic Acid, or ALA, when combined with CoQ10, improves neuropathy symptoms and overall nerve function by bettering antioxidant defenses. Doctors are now finding that CoQ10 is beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes because it gives them a solid way to prevent peripheral nerve degeneration and damage.
Another study performed by Hernandez-Ojeda and colleagues found that patients who received 400 mg of ubiquinone saw significant improvement in their neuropathy symptoms as compared to those patients who received a placebo.
A notable reduction in oxidative damage was also recorded. Researchers, therefore, learned that patients taking a 12-week course of ubiquinone had improved nerve conduction and reduced oxidative stress with their diabetic neuropathy.
In conclusion, CoQ10 helps to reduce oxidative stress, lower glucose levels, and improve insulin sensitivity, which can protect overall nerve health. Each scientific study that was conducted found that CoQ10 could be beneficial in preventing diabetic neuropathy.
2. Can Protect Patients from the Neurotoxic Effects of Chemotherapy
Studies have found that CoQ10’s neuroprotective effects can protect patients from chemotherapy-induced nerve pain and neurotoxicity. However, these findings still need to be confirmed through human studies.
3. Protects Patients from Alcoholic Neuropathy
Recent studies have found that when CoQ10 is combined with vitamin E, it can strengthen antioxidant defenses so that the body can fight the effects of alcohol-induced neuropathy.
4. Protects Against Drug-induced Neuropathy
Two to four percent of the population suffers from drug-induced peripheral neuropathy. Not only do patients going through chemotherapy suffer from neuropathy, but patients with HIV also must deal with symptomatic neuropathy due to the anti-retroviral therapy they undergo.
Likewise, patients taking statins for high cholesterol also suffer from muscle weakness and neuropathy. A water-soluble form of CoQ10 has been proven to help prevent neuropathy and neurotoxicity in patients with drug-induced neuropathy.
Another study found that patients who replaced statin drugs with CoQ10 for one year had an 80 percent reduction in neuropathy symptoms.
5. Reduces Nerve Pain
Burning nerve pain, or neuropathy nerve pain, are both chronic and debilitating, often disturbing sleep patterns while also impairing quality of life. As such, a host of pre-clinical studies has discovered that CoQ10 reduces neuropathy nerve pain and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.
As an added bonus, it can also prevent diabetic neuropathy and neuropathy nerve pain if used long term. A recent study found that CoQ10 prevents diabetic nerve pain by regulating blood sugar levels and preventing nerve cell damage.
6. Protects Nerve Cells
Regularly taking CoQ10 can help treat and prevent brain and nervous system disorders. CoQ10 will work as an antioxidant that helps to prevent nerve pain while protecting brain health. It can also help in nerve restoration and regeneration.
Which is Better for Neuropathy, Ubiquinone or Ubiquinol?
Every cell in the body can synthesize CoQ10 except for red blood cells. CoQ10 is available in supplement form and also in meat, fish, and some vegetables. Ubiquinone is an oxidized form of CoQ10 while Ubiquinol is a reduced form of it.
As Ubiquinone reaches the intestine it is broken down into ubiquinol. Recent studies show that ubiquinol is best at helping brain-related disorders caused by a deficiency in CoQ10. Still, other studies have found that both Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol are both effective at treating dry mouth and diabetes.
Interestingly, a total of 500 studies in the PubMed database have extensively researched and found favorable outcomes on Ubiquinone when compared to the number of clinical trials for Ubiquinol.
When it comes down to neuropathy treatment, however, both Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol were shown to be highly effective in treating neuropathy nerve pain.
What is the Best Dosage?
Human studies that have used CoQ10 to relieve neuropathy nerve pain have used a dose of 200 mg to 400 mg per day for 12-16 weeks. Also, since CoQ10 is fat soluble, it needs to be taken after a meal to ensure for maximum absorption. CoQ10 also has a half-life of 36 hours.
It is recommended to begin with small doses and then gradually increase over time as high doses of 200 mg or more may not settle well with some individuals. As always, it is best to work with a doctor or medical professional when trying to find out what dose will work best for you.
CoQ10 is highly compatible with Acetyl-l-carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Magnesium, and Vitamin B. Likewise, all of these supplements will benefit in the treatment of neuropathy nerve pain.
Commonly Reported Side Effects
Studies have shown that CoQ10 does not have any notable side effects when it is taken within its recommended dose. However, very mild gastric side effects have been reported. It is believed that pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take CoQ10.
Also, doses of 200 mg or more of CoQ10 need to be discussed with a doctor or medical professional. Doctors also recommend taking CoQ10 while taking statins for high cholesterol.
There are some reports that CoQ10 may not interact well with Warfarin, but there is no conclusive evidence on this. As with any medication or herbal supplement, you should first consult with a doctor or medical professional before beginning any new regimens, as CoQ10 may have interactions with daunorbucin, doxorubicin, blood pressure medications, blood thinners, antidepressants, and cholesterol-lowering medications.
CoQ1o is an antioxidant that protects nerves from the damaging effects of oxidative stress. It can help alleviate neuropathy nerve pain and provide relief from some painful symptoms associated with various medical conditions.
CoQ10 also protects against neurotoxicity and can help to soothe neuropathy nerve pain. A multitude of studies have found supplementation with CoQ10 favorable, however, the supplement should be used and monitored with your doctor or medical professional.
Other supplements that help neuropathy include B-vitamins, magnesium, and other natural herbs. Rather than purchase each of these nutrients individually, many neuropathy patients often turn to pre-formulated products like Nerve Renew, a popular formula for neuropathy support.