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A New Treatment for Veterans Suffering From Gulf War Syndrome

Gulf War syndrome

Gulf War syndrome

The Gulf War syndrome is a serious condition that plagues veterans from the Gulf War. It has affected as much as one-third of the entire United States contingent that was sent to fight in the war. The condition goes beyond post-traumatic stress disorder and causes actual illness symptoms to manifest among those inflicted. The most commonly prescribed forms of treatment include medication and behavioral therapy. A new study from the University of California, San Diego School of Health Sciences has revealed information on a new potential treatment that could help alleviate the debilitating effects of Gulf War Syndrome. The key to helping veterans with Gulf War syndrome keep healthy and combat their symptoms may lie in the coenzyme Q10.

The Gulf War syndrome

The Gulf War syndrome (GWS), also called Gulf War illness, is a chronic disorder that presents multiple symptoms among both veterans and workers from the Persian Gulf War. According to a study carried out by the U.S. Institute of Medicine in 2010, as many as 250,000 veterans from the 697,000 that were part of the war experienced various illness symptoms. Fatigue, headache, body pains, memory problems, diarrhea, respiratory problems, and post-traumatic stress disorder are some of the common symptoms that veterans go through. Over time, the health of the veterans that were deployed into combat was shown to have deteriorated faster than those who were not deployed. GWS can affect veterans from around the world, the most frequent cases of which occur among soldiers from the U.S. and the U.K. Veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq were also shown to have suffered from the syndrome.  

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) was discovered to produce significant health benefits for veterans suffering from Gulf War illness. It is naturally found in the mitochondria of eukaryotic cells and plays a role in generating ATP. CoQ10 is available as a dietary supplement and can be taken in addition to the prescribed treatments for certain conditions. There is some evidence that CoQ10 can moderately improve the conditions of patients with Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s. It can also be used to improve the quality of sperm among infertile males, as well as to treat any signs of muscle breakdown that are a common side-effect of certain statin medications.

Findings of the study

The study, headed by Beatrice Golomb of the UC San Diego School of Medicine, gathered 46 U.S. veterans of the Gulf War who were all suffering from the syndrome. For three and a half months, the test subjects were given a capsule of either CoQ10 or a common placebo in randomized order. The researchers discovered that as much as 80% of the veterans that were given CoQ10 experienced significant improvement in their conditions, as opposed to those that only took the placebo. The symptoms of chronic fatigue, headaches, and memory problems were all improved. The extent of the improvement was relative to the amounts of CoQ10 they were given.

Treating veterans

Golomb claims that the results of this study will have great effects in the treatment of Gulf War syndrome and possibly for other related illnesses. It has produced an effective medication that can help cure the veterans' symptoms. Golomb also stresses the importance of studying the health conditions of the veterans in an attempt to help them overcome their illnesses. Golomb and her team are conducting further work on creating a mitochondrial mix of nutrients and CoQ10 that could become more effective than taking CoQ10 alone. The U.S. Department of Defense is also supporting continued clinical studies to help any Gulf War veterans in need.