What is Idebenone?
Idebenone is a derivative of the coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone). This synthetic drug was first developed in Japan back in the early 1980s. The drug was initially used for the treatment of different brain conditions and some neurodegenerative disorders. Additionally, there is some evidence showing that it is also helpful in treating genetic disorders such as Leber’s disease and Friedreich’s ataxia. This is due to the drug’s ability to improving mitochondria function. This makes sense, considering that the coenzyme Q10 itself plays an important role in supporting mitochondrial energy production. It’s also worth noting that Idebenone mixes with the blood much better than Ubiquinone. As a result, the drug performs better in crossing the blood-brain barrier as compared to Ubiquinone.
Another important property of Idebenone is its antioxidant effects. As an anti-oxidant, the drug helps in protecting cells against free radicals. This is why Idebenone is believed to be effective in safeguarding brain cells, thus boosting the performance of the brain. On top of that, Idebenone can protect the skin against the free radicals that are known to damage skin structure, causing different conditions, including wrinkles.
How Does Idebenone Works?
Idebenone works in several ways. One study showed that Idebenone protects the cells against oxidative damage by fighting free radicals known as reactive oxidative species.
The drug is also involved in transporting electrons through the electron transport chain. In doing so, it boosts energy production in damaged cells.
Idebenone maintains healthy levels of a neurotransmitter known as Glutamate. Glutamate is very useful for the body, but too much of it can be dangerous to the cells. Idebenone helps in ensuring that glutamates remain useful and safe for the body by regulating its levels.
There have been reports that Idebenone can be used in improving cognitive functions i.e., the drug can be used as a nootropic. Since the drug improves symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, and it has brain-protecting properties, it makes sense that it can improve cognitive performance even though it is not approved for this purpose. In this interesting study, scientists reported that Idebenone increases the levels of a neurotransmitter known as Nerve Growth Factor or NGF. NGF is vital for the growth and development of brain cells. It is also responsible for the survival of the same cells. Therefore, low levels of NGF are detrimental to both brain’s health and performance, while a boost of the same can have an incredible effect not just on the health of the brain but on the organ’s performance.
Uses and Benefits of Idebenone
- Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Idebenone has been tested clinically for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In this multi-centric double-blind study, 104 elderly subjects were used to test the effectiveness of Idebenone in treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. 90mg of the drug was administered orally (in two servings of 45mg each) every day for four consecutive months.
At the end of the study, the researchers reported a statistically significant improvement in attention, memory, and behavior. What’s exciting about this study is that the differences started getting noticed after just 1 month of using the drug, and they continued to improve throughout the trial period. Moreover, the subjects demonstrated incredible tolerability, so there were no severe adverse reactions.
Several other studies support the effectiveness of Idebenone for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. However, we have other drugs that are approved by the FDA, so you may want to consider them first before checking out Idebenone.
- Improve Cognitive Functions
Since Idebenone helps in reversing the effects of Alzheimer’s diseases and other types of dementia, it’s believed that the drug can be used as a nootropic. This is theoretically possible. It could improve memory, learning, attention, and concentration.
However, there is very limited clinical information on the efficacy of this drug for this purpose. There is not enough evidence to conclusively prove that Idebenone is helpful to healthy individuals who are not suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other dementia-related disease.
- Treating Mitochondrial Disease
Idebenone is believed to be effective for the treatment of mitochondrial diseases such as MELAS syndrome, where energy production is affected. The condition is known to cause headaches, dementia, hearing impairment, epilepsy, and diabetes.
Idebenone’s anti-oxidant properties help in dealing with this condition by protecting the brain against free radicals. The drug has to be used in high doses for this purpose.
- Treating Leigh Syndrome
Leigh Syndrome is a genetic disease that affects some parts of the brain, causing loss of motor and mental functions. It can also affect the lungs. Idebenone was used on a patient with Leigh Syndrome for a period of 6 months at the end of which the symptoms had improved.
Further studies are necessary for testing Idebenone’s application on this condition.
- Improving Skin Health
Idebenone’s anti-oxidant properties hint to the possibility of the drug being effective for boosting skin health. Scientists have pursued this and conducted several studies both in humans and animals. In one trial, the drug was used topically for around 6 weeks on ladies who had suffered moderate sun damage. It is reported that Idebenone improved hydration, wrinkles, and roughness of the skin. Another trial showed that it protected the skin against UV damage.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to conclusively tell the short and long term effects of the topical application of Idebenone based on the few trials available.
Side Effects of Idebenone
Clinical trials involving Idebenone have reported decent tolerability. Most of them did not report any side effects.
However, clinical trials are very few. They are also not the most reliable since they are done on a few people. Therefore, there may be some adverse reactions to Idebenone that remain unknown.
In some of the studies, a few individuals reported several side effects, such as:
- Stomach upset
Taking Idebenone in high doses can also cause other severe complications such as high blood pressure, attention disturbances, urine discoloration, and loose stool.
To successfully use Idebenone without any complications, you’ll need to speak to your healthcare provider. They will be able to guide you through the proper dosage to use. They’ll even help you understand whether using Idebenone is a wise idea in the first place. So, make sure you consult your physician, and don’t forget to share your medical history.
Idebenone is mainly available in capsule form. Usually, 150mg capsules. You can also get it in the form of cream. This is ideal if you are planning on using the drug to improve your skin health.
No approved dosage is guaranteed to work for everyone, and that’s because the FDA does not approve Idebenone, and the clinical research on it is very limited.
Based on the available research, the recommended dosage for treating Alzheimer’s disease is between 90 to 120mg taken three times per day.
The doses can be increased to 150mg or more depending on your tolerability and the results you are looking for. For instance, in treating Leber’s disease, the user may have to take up to 300mg three times a day.
Again, you should speak to your doctor to identify the ideal dose. Remember that taking too much Idebenone can be very harmful, and contraindication is also possible, so don’t ignore the importance of a physician’s directive.