– The ultimate anti-aging drug?
by James South MA
Idebenone is a synthetic analog of one of life's most essential biochemicals, coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10).
Co Q10 is an important antioxidant component of the lipid (fatty) membranes that
surround all cells, as well as the lipid membranes surrounding the various
organelles ("little organs"), such as mitochondria and microsomes,
Co Q10 is also an important member
of the "Electron Transport Chain" within mitochondria, which are
the "power plants" of the cell. Most of the oxygen we breathe is used
inside the electron transport chain to produce much of the ATP bioenergy that
powers virtually every activity of our cells and bodies.
Without CoQ10, or a good
substitute, human life quickly ends, and Idebenone is a "better Co Q10"
that has been extensively researched the past 15 years.
Co Q10’s pro-oxidant action
When blood flow is seriously
reduced to any part of the body, as in a heart attack, stroke, trauma, shock, or
chronic poor blood circulation- cellular/ mitochondrial oxygen (O2) levels
quickly drop in the affected region. Yet because oxygen is seven to eight times
more soluble in the lipid zones of cell membrane, compared to the watery
compartments of the cell, there is still sufficient oxygen remaining in the
membranes of cells and organelles, as well as in the electron transport chain,
to auto-oxidize Co Q10. As the Co Q10 auto-oxidizes, hydrogen peroxide, superoxide
and hydroxl free radicals are rapidly formed in massive numbers. These free
radicals quickly damage cell/ organelle structure and function, as well as
rapidly halt ATP energy generation by the electron transport chain.
Brain and spinal cord cells are
especially prone to such damage, and may be irreparably damaged or even
destroyed within minutes.
Why Idebenone is superior to Co Q10
Enter Idebenone to the rescue!
Studies have shown that under the same cellular low oxygen conditions that cause
Co Q10 to act as a pro-oxidant producer of damaging free radicals, Idebenone
prevents the free radical dam-age and maintains relatively normal cell ATP
levels. In short, while Idebenone can effectively substitute for Co Q10's
positive and life essential functions, it doesn't have Co Q10's free radical
producing and energy crashing "dark side" which occurs under hypoxic
(low oxygen) conditions.
Idebenone's potential benefits
fall into five categories; antiaging, energy enhancement, cognition enhancement,
organ protector and protector against excitatory amino acid neurotoxicity.
Idebenone – The anti-aging
The mitochondrial power plants
produce over 90% of all cellular ATP bioenergy. They are also generally the
richest sites in Co Q10 (or Idebenone). Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) allows
mitochondria to reproduce them-selves.
While the DNA in a cell nucleus
comes from both our parents, mtDNA comes exclusively from our mother's mtDNA.
There are typically two or three
copies of mtDNA in each mitochondrion, with average 1000 mitochondria per cell.
Because mtDNA exists in the "heart of the fiery furnace" where
electron "sparks" are constantly leaking as ATP is produced in the
electron transport chain, mtDNA is far more prone to free radical electron
damage than is the DNA in our cell nuclei that contains the
"blueprint" for our entire organism.
At the same time, the repair
capacity of mtDNA is much less than that of our cell nucleus DNA. As a
consequence, over the course of a lifetime our mtDNA becomes ever more damaged,
and the mitochondria produced therefrom become ever more ineffective at energy
Studies comparing heart tissue
from young people with that from elderly people have shown almost no significant
mitochondrial dysfunction in young hearts, with significant, often severe
mitochondrial dysfunction in elderly hearts.
The cells that are most
susceptible to mitochondrial energy depletion with advancing age are the brain,
skeletal muscle and heart muscle cells. Idebenone thus offers a prime anti-aging
effect here in several ways. Unlike Co Q10, even under the low oxygen conditions
that may occur periodically over a lifetime, Idebenone will serve as a powerful
mitochondrial free radical quencher, lessening the ever-increasing mtDNA damage
that occurs with age. Idebenone will work even better than Co Q10 within the
electron transport chain to keep energy production high, even under hypoxic
conditions. This is especially critical to brain and heart cells that may be
rapidly damaged during low ATP production episodes that occur due to poor tissue
Idebenone – Energy enhancement
Iron is a "dual edged
sword." It is absolutely essential for life, it plays a central role in ATP
generation in the electron transport chain. Yet iron can also be a powerful
initiator of free radical production and cell structural damage, especially
under low oxygen conditions.
This occurs, for example, during
stroke, and during the gradual onset of Parkinson's disease. Studies have shown
that Idebenone can tightly couple oxidation to energy production. This prevents
iron ions from wastefully and toxically, diverting oxygen to producing free
radicals inside the mitochondria, instead of energy.
Studies have shown that Idebenone
can almost completely eliminate this, diverting 10% of cellular oxygen away from
toxic iron induced free radical generation, to beneficial ATP energy production
under hypoxic conditions.
Mild cellular hypoxia can occur
even from intense exercise, or even from mild exercise done by out of shape
Idebenone – Cognition
A variety of studies using brain
cells, (animal and humans) have shown Idebenone's ability to enhance brain
structure and function.
Human and animal studies have
demonstrated that Idebenone can enhance serotonin production, even under far
less than optimal conditions, as e.g. with a very low tryptophan diet, or in
patients with cerebrovascular dementia.
Idebenone has enhanced
cholinergic nerve function and consequent learning ability even under hypoxic
conditions, or when an anti-cholinergic drug (Scopolamine) was administered.
Idebenone has increased cellular
catecholamine (dopamine, adrenalin and noradrenanlin) production by enhancing
cellular uptake of the precursor amino-acid tyrosine.
Idebenone enhances long term
potentiation in hippocampal nerve cells, a key part of memory formation and
consolidation. Idebenone has restored glucose (brain fuel) utilization and ATP
production in ischemic (poor blood flow) rat-brain.
Idebenone has been shown to
enhance general cerebral metabolism, lessen the damage from strokes, and has
been used to treat Alzheimer's and other dementias.
And like the original nootropic
drug; piracetam, Idebenone has been shown to promote information transfer across
the corpus callosum, the membrane separating the right and left brain
This is turn may promote the
union/ integration of the logical (yang) and intuitive (yin) halves of the
Idebenone – Organ protector
As our organs age or are damaged,
we age and are damaged. Over a lifetime, blood flow to our organs diminishes due
to arteriosclerosis and less efficient heart pumping. This reduces oxygen
dependent energy production needed for repair, reproduction and normal function
of the organ cells. Free radical damage accumulates over time, leaving ever more
dead, dying or dysfunctional cells within organs.
At some point a critical
threshold is reached when too many cells within an organ are dysfunctional, and
they can no longer sustain the organ's life and function. Then the organ- heart,
brain, liver etc. fails.
Idebenone protects organs in many
ways, it cushions them against hypoxic (low oxygen) and/ or ischemic (poor blood
flow) damage. Idebenone enhances both normal and hypoxic ATP energy generation.
Each cell in our organs must
produce the energy it needs for life and health, cells cannot "borrow"
energy from each other.
Idebenone – The free radical
Idebenone is a powerful
antioxidant, more so than Co Q10, and in some studies is 30 to 100 times more
effective, than vitamin E or vinpocetine as a free radical quencher within the
Idebenone lessens the free
radical induced mtDNA damage that accumulates acceleratingly over a lifetime,
slowing organ damage and aging.
A 1995 study in the Journal of
Transplantation compared the organ preserving effects of Co Q10 and Idebenone.
The study measured various factors, such as free radical membrane lipid damage,
cell protein damage and cellular energy production under hypoxia conditions.
The results showed Idebenone to
be dramatically more effective than Co Q10 at preserving liver tissue under
conditions identical to that endured by whole livers "harvested" and
stored (briefly) before transplant to another person.
The study recommended using
Idebenone to increase the transplant viability of human livers donated for organ
transplant. Why not use Idebenone to increase your own organ viability, while
you still have the use of them!
Protection against excitatory
amino acid (EAA) neuro toxicity
Glutamic acid and aspartic acid
are the two chief excitatory amino acid neurotransmitters in the human brain.
Without them we would be "mental vegetables."
Yet under certain conditions,
e.g. stroke or traumatic brain injury- excessive amounts of excitatory amino
acids accumulate in the fluid surrounding brain cells, causing damage and even
death to nerve and glial cells through free radical mechanisms.
Excitatory amino acid toxicity is
at least partly responsible for the neurotoxicity of the recreational drug
"Ecstasy or MDMA." Studies over the past 30 years have also shown that
excessive dietary intake of excitatory amino acids may also damage brain
structure/ function, especially in children or excitatory amino acid sensitive
The two main dietary sources of
excitatory amino acids are the flavor enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate) and
the artificial sweetener aspartame (Nutrasweet). Also many processed foods (e.g.
canned soups, dry roasted spiced peanuts, beef/ chicken bouillon, canned tuna,
spices etc.) contain "hydrolized vegetable protein, yeast extract, soy
protein isolate" and similar ingredients that are mostly excitatory amino
In studies with various types of
nerve cell, as well as oligodendroglial cells (which make up the protective
myelin sheaths surrounding many nerves, the so-called "white matter"
of the brain). Idebenone has shown dramatic protective effects against glutamate
With all these powers, Idebenone
should now rightfully take its place in the first rank of anti-aging/ nootropic/
energizer drugs, along with Hydergine, piracetam, vinpocetine, deprenyl and GH3/
KH3 (and it's one of my personal favorites!)
So who can benefit from Idebenone?
The answers are,
Healthy people wishing cognitive enhancement and brain energizer effects (it
synergizes well with piracetam, vinpocetine and Hydergine). 2 or 3 tablets (45mg
Stroke victims wishing to improve memory, emotional or speech disturbances. 3 to
6 tablets (45mg each) daily.
Alzheimer's and cerebrovascular dementia patients. 4 to 6 tablets (45mg each)
Those preparing for major surgery, especially brain, heart, liver or kidney.
Synergizes well with Hydergine. 4 to 6 tablets (45mg each).
People with heart energetics problems, e.g. cardiomyopathy, ischemic heart
disease, congestive heart failure. 3 to 6 tablets (45mg each) daily.
People with myelination problems, e.g. multiple sclerosis or "white
matter" stroke injury. 3 to 6 tablets (45mg each) daily.
Those seeking to increase their general energy and vitality levels. 2 to 3
tablets (45mg each) daily.
People with especially high endurance energy needs, e.g. cross country skiers,
long distance runners, cyclists, swimmers etc. 3 to 4 tablets (45mg each) daily.
at risk of excitatory amino acid brain damage, e.g. people who routinely consume
large amounts of aspartame sweetened foods/ drinks, or those who routinely eat
MSG or "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" containing restaurant or
prepared foods. 2 or 3 tablets (45mg each) daily.
People wishing to enhance the brain serotonin benefits of tryptophan or
5-hydroxy-tryptophan supplements or SSRI drugs, such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, or
Luvox etc. 2 to 4 tablets (45mg each) daily.
Those suffering acute or chronic liver damage from poison mushrooms, toxic
chemicals, hepatitis etc. 2 to 4 tablets (45mg each) daily.
People desiring a "long haul" broad-spectrum anti-aging drug.
Synergizes well with deprenyl, Hydergine, GH3/ KH3. 2 or 3 tablets (45mg each)
Because of its synergy with other
life extension drugs, those also taking any or all of Hydergine, piracetam (and
its analogues), vinpocetine, deprenyl, GH3/ KH3 may benefit from even just one
45mg tablet a day, especially if taken regularly on a long-term basis. Because
idebenone is fat soluble, it is best taken with a fat rich meal, or with lipid
absorption enhancing agents such as lecithin or phosphatidyl choline.
Numerous studies have shown that
idebenone is well distributed through-out the body after absorption,
accumulating in cellular and organelle membranes, as well as in the electron
transport chain, exactly where it does the most good!