After six weeks of treatment with the mitochondrial supplement MitoQ, fibromyalgia patients said they had reduced pain and improved memory, according to a study conducted entirely online.
The study, “The influence of MitoQ on symptoms and cognition in fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue,” represents a new way of performing research, largely omitting the costs associated with traditional clinical trials.
The trial was conducted by Cort Johnson at Health Rising, an information site for patients with fibromyalgia, and Joshua Grant, a neuroscientist at Mendus.org, an online platform where people with health conditions can help create their own research studies. In contrast to traditional studies, patients measured and reported all their symptoms and could also individually manage their treatment regimens.
However, the study was performed just as a traditional clinical trial: Patients were randomized to receive either supplements or a placebo, and both patients and scientists managing the study did not know who was assigned to the treatments.
MitoQ is a supplement to improve mitochondrial function by providing more of the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10. The supplements are designed to improve the uptake of the molecule when taken in a capsule form.
The study is the largest conducted by Mendus.org to date, and was in part made possible by MitoQ, which provided patients with their product or a placebo supplement which was visually identical to the MitoQ capsules.
A total of 47 fibromyalgia patients participated in the study, which also recruited 51 people suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
The trial was designed as a cross-over study — a setup where a patient receiving an active supplement then switches to a placebo and vice versa. This way, researchers could analyze data even if a patient missed reporting during a time point, and could also conclude whether the effects changed when patients switched between the active supplement and a placebo.
Fibromyalgia patients who took MitoQ reported pain scores 24 percent lower than placebo-treated patients, a significant reduction, according to the report. Working memory also improved by 10 percent.
Beneficial effects were seen only when patients were taking the supplements and were lost when the same patients were taking a placebo. The study found no effects of MitoQ on symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
“There were both encouraging and disappointing results. MitoQ seems to work quite well for fibromyalgia, lowering pain and improving memory,” Grant said in a news release.
“With its excellent safety profile and availability without prescription, MitoQ may have the potential to help millions of similar patients look forward to a less painful tomorrow,” he added.
Although the report is available online, it has not yet been peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal.