Idebenone: Benefits & Side Effects of this Nootropic


Longevity and antiaging is a multi-billion-dollar industry. One study from 2018 estimated the market value of this industry to be a whopping 50.2 billion! The value is only expected to go higher because more and more people are looking for ways to look and feel younger.

Antioxidants are one of the many drugs or compounds used to combat the signs of aging. These are compounds that fight free radicals and oxidative stress in the body. Free radicals are known to affect the functioning and performance of various vital organs, including the heart and brain. They also affect the skin structure resulting in wrinkles, fine lines, and similar issues. Idebenone is one of the many antioxidants used for various purposes.

What’s Idebenone?

Idebenone is an orange antioxidant powder that was first manufactured in 1986 by one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Asia, Takeda Pharmaceutical. This drug was developed to treat Alzheimer’s diseases, but it is currently used and added in many antiaging products.

Idebenone is a synthetic form of coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that’s naturally produced by the body. It helps with fighting free radicals, supporting cell function, and maintaining healthy and youthful-looking skin. The levels of Coenzyme Q10 are usually highest in the first 20 or so years, which explains why young people usually have optimally functioning organs and healthy skin. Unfortunately, the levels of coenzyme Q10 reduce gradually as we age. This leaves our cells exposed to all the risks that come with the free radicals that we are exposed to through the food we eat as well as our environment.

By taking Idebenone, you make up for the diminishing levels of Coenzyme Q10 hence protecting your cells against oxidative stress. It is considered as an identical natural form of Coenzyme Q10, so it produces almost the same effects except for a few differences. For instance, Idebenone has a higher affinity to lipids than Coenzyme Q10. It is also less water-soluble.

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Uses of Idebenone

  1. Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

Idebenone was initially developed for treating Alzheimer’s disease, and it has shown to be quite effective for this purpose. Multiple studies have proven their ability to treat and improve various symptoms of this neurodegenerative disorder. For instance, in one study involving 102 elderly people with the disease, 45mg of Idebenone was administered twice per day for 4 months. At the end of the study, the researchers noticed an improvement in attention, memory, and behavior.

It has also been reported to be quite effective for dealing with dementia, a condition that comes with Alzheimer’s diseases quite often. Studies show that it can improve cognitive functions. However, some FDA-approved medications are known to be more effective and safer for this purpose than Idebenone.

  1. Supports Healthy Skin

Being a powerful antioxidant, it is also quite helpful in the antiaging industry, and that’s why it is present in many creams, lotions, and other skincare products. The compound protects the skin cells against free radicals, thereby preventing the formation of wrinkles, fine lines, and other aging signs. It also protects the skin against UV rays and other pollutants known to damage the skin structure and cause other complications.

It also fights the redness of the skin and irritation. It reduces the stress load and soothes the skin.

It’s worth noting that it has not been studied extensively for its use in the skincare industry. A few studies support these benefits, but there have also been contradicting trials. Idebenone is also not very water-soluble, which means it may not be absorbed efficiently when taken orally.

  1. Treating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or DMD is a severe muscular disorder affecting children. It’s a genetic disorder that affects about 1 out of 5000 boys. This condition can be so severe and even cause death if it is not treated properly by the time the boy is 20 years old.

Several studies have looked into the effectiveness of Idebenone for treating DMD. In most of these studies, the subjects were given Idebenone dosages of between 450 to 900mg per day. The scientists reported an improvement in respiratory function and reduced incidence rate of lung complications. Therefore, they concluded that it could treat DMD. Sadly, there haven’t been many follow up clinical trials. This makes it hard to determine whether Idebenone is more effective or safer than the existing medications and assistive devices.

  1. Treating Leber’s Disease

Leber’s Disease is a rare, genetically inherited mitochondrial disease. It is characterized by dysfunctional mitochondria that cause vision loss. Studies show that Idebenone can improve ATP production in the cells to stop Leber’s disease and aid with recovery.

In a study involving 85 people with the disease, 300mg of Idebenone was administered three times per day for 6 months. At the end of the study, the researchers reported an improvement in vision among the subjects. Follow-up was done on 60 of these patients, and it was reported that they were still enjoying a good vision even though they were not taking the drug anymore.

Another similar study showed that Idebenone could also protect people with Leber’s diseases against color vision loss.

Additional research is necessary to fully understand the effects of Idebenone on Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy patients.

Some reports claim that it can treat Friedreich’s ataxia, mitochondrial encephalomyopathies, Leigh syndrome, liver disease, and other conditions. Sadly, there isn’t enough evidence to support these claims.

Side Effects

It has not been studied extensively, so our knowledge of the possible short and long-term side effects of using it is quite limited. That said, a few of the side effects reported in the few studies involving the drug are:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach upset
  • Insomnia
  • Loose stool

Some of the side effects associated with Idebenone-based skincare products are redness, redness, stinging, and irritation. These reactions are quite rare, though. Also, they tend to occur among individuals with extremely sensitive skin.

Final Thoughts

Idebenone is a promising drug, but it has not been studied enough to ascertain its benefits and possible risks, and this explains why it is yet to be approved by the FDA. Therefore, it’s wiser to seek alternatives until we have enough clinical trials supporting its benefits.

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