Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
Q. Dear Terry, “My 82 year old mother has many health problems, including diabetes, COPD, and congestive heart failure. I believe she should be taking CoQ10; however, her doctor doesn’t seem to believe in supplements at all. She wants to take it as friends have said they take it and feel better, but he tells her she cannot take it because it will coincide with her medications. Thank you for any opinion/suggestions you may have.” — Jane P., Billings, MT
A. Dear Jane, I do have some natural options that I can share with you regarding your mother. However, I believe the best health outcomes are achieved when everyone follows an integrated plan, and that includes your mother’s doctor. I encourage you to keep working with your mother’s doctor. Perhaps you could show him this answer, or ask him to review some of the excellent studies on specific nutrients for diabetes, COPD, and congestive heart failure (CHF). My advice does not replace your doctor’s oversight. I think your idea of using CoQ10 is right on target. It supports brain and cardiac function, and has a positive impact on lowering blood pressure in some people, so this would be a very good thing. However, in this case, I would suggest using ubiquinol, which is the active form of CoQ10 and as such, is more effective than ubiquinone. Plain CoQ10 is called ubiquinone, and it has to be converted to be useful in the body. As we age, our ability to convert ubiquinone into ubiquinol declines. In addition, there are also several diseases that interfere with CoQ10 conversion. Some good brands of ubiquinol include Mercola, Jarrow, Enzymatic Therapy (they list it as “ActivLife Q10” and that brand is ubiquinol) and I think Blue Bonnet has one, too. I would suggest taking 100 to 200 mg of CoQ10, in the form of ubiquinol, daily. I would also recommend a combination of magnesium and vitamin B6. Both magnesium and vitamin B6 act as cofactors for numerous enzyme systems throughout the body. Because P-5-P and magnesium work so effectively at such a basic level in the body, the uses for these two powerful and versatile nutrients are endless. In fact, it is hard for me to think of any health concern that would NOT benefit from P-5-P and magnesium! Vitamin B6 reduces the risk of heart attacks up to 70%, helps prevent complications of diabetes (in addition to burning feet), reduces arthritis symptoms—and this is not an all-inclusive list. With congestive heart failure, one problem that occurs is the accumulation of fluid in the body because the heart is not beating efficiently. The bioactive form of B6, called pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P for short) is amazingly effective in helping the body rid itself of excess water. The magnesium I prefer is a special form that is chelated to glycine, called magnesium glycinate. Some individuals can have trouble converting the inactive form of B6 to the active form. By consuming vitamin B6 in the active P-5-P form, conversion is no longer necessary, and the full benefits are available immediately after absorption. Magnesium in its chelated form is highly absorbable and aids in the absorption of pyridoxal-5-phosphate. I would suggest taking a combination formula that provides approximately 60 mg of P-5-P and 200 mg of magnesium daily. When it comes to respiratory health, I would first recommend a blend of highly-bioavailable curcumin (an extract of the spice, turmeric) and boswellia. These two herbs reduce some of the inflammation triggers inside the body. Reducing inflammation in the lungs reduces lung irritation and swelling, and lets the air go in and out more easily. The combination also benefits heart and brain health as well, so it is a good product to use on an ongoing basis. I would suggest approximately 725-1,450 mg of this curcumin-boswellia combination daily. Two things to keep in mind when choosing a product: make sure the curcumin has excellent absorption and that it has been proven in published human studies (curcumin is notoriously hard to absorb), and that the boswellia is screened to less than 5% beta boswellic acid and standardized to 15% acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA), the most active component of boswellia. I would also recommend supplementing with a combination of English Ivy and Thyme extracts. When used together they make a very excellent combination, helping to keep the lungs clear. Both herbs have been extensively researched in Germany and other European countries for use with colds, cough, bronchitis and even asthma. I would suggest approximately 250-500 mg of a combination of these two herbs three times daily. This combination functions as an expectorant (helps cough out phlegm) and mucolytic (breaks up congestion). Make sure to look for a product that contains an English Ivy extract standardized for Hederacoside-C and a Thyme extract that is standardized for essential oil content. I am not aware of any contraindications with medications for the above supplements. In fact, in my experience, I’ve learned that they tend to make the medication more effective. However, I strongly recommend that you work with your mother’s physician regarding use of these supplements. If you find that your mother’s physician is not willing to work with her, I would recommend searching for a new practitioner that will listen and work with your mother regarding her wishes to add supplements to her daily regimen. Best of luck! Healthy regards! Terry . . . Naturally