If you’re in severe pain, your head is throbbing, you’re sick to your stomach and every light and sound bothers you, you are one of the one billion people worldwide who suffers from migraine. Migraine is unbelievably common. It is the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting 12%-22% of the U.S. population and at least 8.3% of people in Canada. 91% of them can’t function normally during their attacks and frequently miss work.
Crueler still is that migraine is the most common type of headache in children. 10% of kids between 5 and 15 suffer from migraines. For many of them, their quality of life is severely impacted.
The antidepressant drug amitriptyline is one of the most prescribed treatments for migraine, including in children. However, it has several side effects. An equally effective but safer alternative would be a game changer for kids with migraine.
One such alternative is CoQ10. Normally thought of more as a heart nutrient, this just published study shows that CoQ10 is a promising alternative to amitriptyline (Adv Biomed Res.
Several studies, including a recent meta-analysis (Nutr Neurosci
2019 6:1-8), have shown that CoQ10 reduces the frequency of migraines.
Other recent studies have shown that CoQ10 can reduce, not only the frequency, but the severity and duration of migraine headaches in adults (J Headache Pain
. 2015;16:A186; Nutr Neurosci
Studies in children have been scarcer. One study found that giving CoQ10 to kids who are deficient in CoQ10 reduced the frequency of migraines (Headache
This new study compared CoQ10 to amitriptyline and looked at, not just frequency, but duration and severity of headaches. It included 72 children between the ages of 5 and 15 who suffered from migraines. The dose of CoQ10 was 30mg for children under 30kg and 60mg for children over 30kg. The kids were all followed for 3 months.
For each of frequency, duration and severity, both treatments led to significant improvement. In each case, the amitriptyline worked faster, but in each case in the second and third months the two treatments were equally effective, meaning that CoQ10 is equally as effective as amitriptyline for the long term control of migraines in children.
CoQ10 was also equally effective at improving quality of life.
So, CoQ10 and amitriptyline are equally effective at long term management of migraine in children. Amitriptyline has the advantage of working a little faster. But CoQ10 has the important advantage of being safer. The use of amitriptyline in kids is limited by its side effects, including drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, increased appetite and arrhythmia. In this study, there were “more unwanted effects” in the amitriptyline group, which is in line with the general safety of CoQ10.
The researcher conclude their study by saying that CoQ10 has “comparable therapeutic effects” and “fewer side effects” than amitriptyline, making it a good choice for prevention of migraine headaches.
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