Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Curcumin and Coenzyme Q10 for Congestive Heart Failure

Millions of type 2 diabetics who have used Actos (pioglitazone) or Avandia (rosiglitazone) suffer congestive heart failure. Since their condition came as a side effect of medication for diabetics, many diabetics understandably want to try natural therapies such as curcumin, the antioxidant component of the herb turmeric. While curcumin may be very helpful for congestive heart failure, an even better natural approach to supporting congestive heart failure is to add coenzyme Q10.

Curcumin acts outside the cells of the heart. It keeps fibrin "fibers" from sticking to platelets and slows down the production of blood clots, keeping blood flowing. Curcumin amplifies the effects of anticoagulant medications (and you shouldn't use curcumin if you're on an anti-coagulant without consulting your doctor). Anticoagulant medications like clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid) and warfarin (Coumadin) act primatily by slowing the production of fibrin in the liver, while curcumin slows down the action of fibrin once it leaves the liver.

Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10 or ubiquinone, acts inside the cells of the heart. To date, there are no known drug interations with this supplement.

CoQ10 is made by the same physiological processes that the body uses to make cholesterol, and statin drugs to lower cholesterol also lower CoQ10. What CoQ10 does in the heart is capture electrons released in the production of energy in the heart cell's mitochondria. Every cell in the heart works 24/7, so the heart needs more CoQ10 than almost any other organ in the body. When there's not enough CoQ10, the heart can't pump blood efficiently.

Several studies have found that supplementing with 100-200 mg of CoQ10 a day may:

  • Reduce angina and other heart pain
  • Increase walking distance
  • Reduce the thickness of the heart muscle and heart wall in "enlarged heart"
  • Decrease incidents of breathlessness (dyspnea), particularly breathlessness at rest
  • Lower stress on the kidneys associated with congestive heart failure, and
  • Reduce frequency of hospitalization

But does CoQ10 specifically relieve congestive heart failure?

The answer is that it seems to be very helpful, but it's not necessarily a cure-all. That's because doctors can't "see" the effects of CoQ10 when they do ultrasounds of the heart--but that could be because it acts inside the cell, not outside it.

There are very few downsides to CoQ10 treatment. If you take Coumadin (warfarin), be sure to tell your doctor you're taking CoQ10; he or she can be on the outlook for any unusual changes in your PT times (clotting factors) that may start after you take the supplement.

And, like curcumin, CoQ10 is better absorbed when it is taken with bioperine. You can choose a slightly more expensive supplement that combines CoQ10 with bioperine, or just use a little more black pepper than usual on your food.

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