Research Says Coenzyme Can Help With Gulf War Illness

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San Diego, CA— A study published in Neural Computation shows that a branded version of coenzyme Q10(CoQ10)  can provide health benefits to veterans suffering from Gulf War illness.

Gulf War illness is a distinct set of chronic health issues present in troops who fought in the conflict ranging from fatigue, muscle pain and weakness to decreased cognitive function and gastrointestinal and skin problems. Roughly 1/3 of the 700,000 U.S. soldiers who fought in the Gulf War have developed Gulf War illness, with effects being present decades afterward.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which took place at the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine, involved 46 U.S. Gulf War veterans, all diagnosed with Gulf War illness. Over the course of three-and-a half months, the participants were administered 100 mg doses of CoQ10. The results showed that 80% of the CoQ10 group experienced improvement in physical function, with the degree of improvement correlating to increase of levels in CoQ10 levels in the blood. The researchers noted that Gulf War illness symptoms like headaches, fatigue with exertion, irritability, recall problems and muscle pain also improved.

Beatrice Golomb, MD, Ph.D and principal investigator on the study, believes that the relationship between CoQ10 and Gulf War illness may stem from mitochondria. As she explains it, Gulf War illness is unlike PTSD or traumatic brain injury in that “evidence instead links Gulf War illness to chemical exposures, such as pesticides or pills given to soldiers to protect them from possible nerve agents. These chemicals can damage mitochondria, which generate the energy our cells need to do their jobs.” CoQ10 is a fat-soluble antioxidant made by the body to support basic cell functions, including directly assisting mitochondrial energy production.

Golomb notes that despite the small sample size, this study is still large in magnitude, as findings in Gulf War illness are relevant to toxin-induced health problems in the civilian sector. She and her colleagues are currently seeking additional funding to test a more complete "mitochondrial cocktail," which combines CoQ10 with additional nutrients that support cell energy and reduce oxidative damage to cells.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2015,(online November 5th)