Proposed Natural Treatments for Cardiomyopathy | Herbs and Supplements to Use Only with Caution | References
Cardiomyopathy is a little understood condition in which the muscle tissue of the heart becomes diseased. There are several distinct forms of cardiomyopathy that may or may not be similar in origin. Medical treatment consists mainly of medications that attempt to compensate for the increasing failure of the heart to function properly. A heart transplant may ultimately be necessary.
Cardiomyopathy is certainly not a disease that you should treat yourself! For this reason, we deliberately do not discuss dosage or safety issues in this section, although general guidelines can be found in the articles on these substances.
Preliminary evidence suggests that the naturally occurring substance coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ 10) might offer benefit in some forms of cardiomyopathy.1,2,3
In a 6-year trial, 143 people with moderately severe cardiomyopathy were given CoQ 10 daily in addition to standard medical care.4 The results showed a significant improvement in cardiac function (technically, ejection fraction) in 84% of the study participants. Most of them improved by several stages on a scale that measures the severity of heart failure (technically, NYHA class). Furthermore, a comparison with individuals on conventional therapy alone appeared to show a reduction in mortality.
This study was an open trial, meaning that participants knew that they were being treated, and such studies are not fully reliable. There have been a few double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of CoQ 10 in cardiomyopathy as well. One such trial followed 80 people with various forms of cardiomyopathy over a period of 3 years.5 Of those treated with CoQ 10, 89% improved significantly, but when the treatment was stopped, their heart function deteriorated.
No benefit was seen in another double-blind study, but it was a smaller and shorter trial and enrolled only people who had one particular type of cardiomyopathy (idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy).6
For more information on coenzyme Q 10, including dosage and safety issues, see the full coenzyme Q10 article.
A small amount of evidence indicates that the vitamin-like supplement carnitine may be useful in cardiomyopathy.8,9 For more information on carnitine, including dosage and safety issues, see the full carnitine article.
Various herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to treat Cardiomyopathy. For more information on these potential risks, see the individual drug article in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
1. Langsjoen H, Langsjoen P, Langsjoen P, et al. Usefulness of coenzyme Q 10 in clinical cardiology: a long-term study. Mol Aspects Med. 1994;15(suppl):S165–S175.
2. Langsjoen PH, Vadhanavikit S, Folkers K. Response of patients in classes III and IV of cardiomyopathy to therapy in a blind and crossover trial with coenzyme Q 10. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1985;82:4240–4244.
3. Poggesi L, Galanti G, Comeglio M, et al. Effect of coenzyme Q 10 on left ventricular function in patients with dilative cardiomyopathy. Curr Ther Res. 1991;49:878–886.
4. Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen PH, Folkers K. A six-year clinical study of therapy of cardiomyopathy with coenzyme Q 10. Int J Tissue React. 1990;12:169–171.
5. Langsjoen PH, Vadhanavikit S, Folkers K. Response of patients in classes III and IV of cardiomyopathy to therapy in a blind and crossover trial with coenzyme Q 10. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1985;82:4240–4244.
6. Permanetter B, Rossy W, Klein G, et al. Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q 10) in the long-term treatment of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Eur Heart J. 1992;13:1528–1533.
7. Spigset O. Reduced effect of warfarin caused by ubidecarenone [letter]. Lancet. 1994;344:1372–1373.
8. Winter S, Jue K, Prochazka J, et al. The role of L-carnitine in pediatric cardiomyopathy. J Child Neurol. 1995;10(suppl 2):S45–S51.
9. Pepine CJ. The therapeutic potential of carnitine in cardiovascular disorders. Clin Ther. 1991;13:2–21.
10. Bertelli A, Ronca G. Carnitine and coenzyme Q 10: biochemical properties and functions, synergism and complementary action. Int J Tissue React. 1990;12:183–186.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Last Updated: 12/15/2015