Patients’ Own Acetyl-L-Carnitine
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an acetylated form of the amino acid L-Carnitine, which helps the body to convert fat into energy. It achieves this by moving it from storage deposits into the mitochondria, allowing it to burn as energy whilst removing metabolic waste, such as lactic acid.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) is regularly used by elite athletes to help improve endurance and overall performance. ALC is the superior form as it can pass the blood-brain barrier, unlike L-Cartitine, and therefore can provide brain and nerve support, successively helping to support mental and cognitive function. This makes it ideal for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia patients.
The following Chronic Fatigue Syndrome specialists recommend Acetyl-L-Carnitine supplements for CFS: Dr Lapp, The University of Maryland Medical Center, Dr Teitelbaum, Dr Podell, Dr Pall, Dr Downing-Orr and Dr Myhill.
The Science behind treating CFS and Fibro with ALC
CFS patients have low levels of ALC
Several studies have demonstrated that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients have significantly lower levels of acetyl-l-carnitine than healthy people.
A 1998 study published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Molecular Medicine found that L-Carnitine levels in Swedish and Japanese Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients were significantly lower than in healthy controls.
This followed on from another study in 1995 published in the peer-reviewed Neuropsychobiology journal which found that all 35 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients included in the study had significantly lower serum total carnitine, free carnitine and acetyl-l-carnitine levels. They concluded that the findings may be indicative of mitochondrial dysfunction, which may contribute to or cause symptoms of fatigue in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients.
The most recent study, published in July 2011 in the peer-reviewed Journal of Internal Medicine, analysed blood samples of 44 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients and 49 healthy controls for L-Carnitine and concentrations of 35 individual essential acetyl-l-carnitine compounds in plasma. They found that the patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome exhibited significantly altered levels in eight of the concentrations, with some of the concentrations averaging 30% to 40% lower than controls. In conclusion, the researchers hypothesized that “the administration of omega-3 fatty acids in combination with L-Carnitine would increase carnitine palmitoyltransferase-I activity and improve chronic fatigue syndrome symptomology.”
Kuratsune et al. (1994) analysed the serum levels of acetyl-L-carnitine in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients. As carnitine has an important role in energy production, the authors hypothesised that this deficiency might induce an energy deficit resulting in general fatigue, myalgia, muscle weakness, and post-exertional malaise in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Furthermore, the concentration of serum acetyl-L-carnitine in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome tended to increase to the normal level with the recovery of general fatigue. Therefore, the measurement of acetyl-L-carnitine would be a useful tool for the diagnosis and assessment of the degree of clinical manifestation in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine can alleviate ME/CFS symptoms
Vermeulen et al. (2004) compared the effects of acetyl-l-carnitine, propionylcarnitine and both compounds on the symptoms of 90 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients over 24 weeks. There was considerable improvement in 59% of the patients in the acetyl-l-carnitine group. Acetyl-l-carnitine significantly improved mental fatigue and attention concentration improved. The changes in plasma carnitine levels correlated with clinical improvement.
A 1997 study published in the journal of Neuropsychobiology treated 30 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients in a crossover design comparing L-carnitine and amantadine. Each medicine was given for 2 months, with a 2-week washout period between medicines. Although amantadine was poorly tolerated, those treated with L-carnitine found statistically significant clinical improvement in 12 of the 18 studied parameters after 8 weeks of treatment. None of the clinical parameters showed any deterioration. The greatest improvement took place between 4 and 8 weeks of L-carnitine treatment.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine can help patients with Fibromyalgia
A 2007 study published in the peer-reviewed journal of Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology assessed the benefit of Acetyl-L-Carnitine supplementation verses that of placebo for 102 Fibromyalgia patients in a multicentre randomized clinical trial. A statistically significant between-group improvement was observed for depression and musculo-skeletal pain as well as total myalgic score.