Neuropathy is a painful condition caused by damage to the nerves. Symptoms include: numbness and tingling; inability to feel temperature; and intense, often crippling, pain.
Neuropathy can be caused by traumatic injury to the peripheral nerves or spinal cord; diabetes; chemotherapy; stroke; certain auto-immune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis; and some viruses including HIV. Neuropathy often responds poorly to normal analgesics so antidepressants, steroids, and opioid drugs are often used to manage the pain. Unfortunately with chronic use, these often develop significant unwanted side effects.
But there is hope. Researchers testing an amino acid, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC), are finding that it effectively relieves the pain of neuropathy but even more importantly, it also assists with repair of the damaged nerves and reverses numbness. People with neuropathy were able to feel their arms and feet again within a year of starting ALC. And all this without long-term side effects.
Acetyl-L-carnitine has also been used, with varying success, for a variety of neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s, memory loss, depression, alcoholism, and Down syndrome. It is also touted as an aid to weight loss and men’s sexual function, but there is little evidence to support these uses.
ALC is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that your liver can synthesize it from another amino acid (lysine). But as we age and our health deteriorates our ability to create ALC diminishes.
ALC is mostly found in meat, especially lamb. ALC is available as a supplement in Canada without prescription. ALC is a special, more bioavailable, form of L-carnitine and appears to work better for this purpose. Alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin C and a B complex, taken along with ALC, may improve its effectiveness.
Caution: medical supervision is strongly recommended for anyone considering taking ALC who is taking blood thinning medication, certain cancer or HIV medications, or has a severe mood disorder (eg Bipolar Depression).
This Amino Acid Reverses Nerve Damage Institute for Natural Healing, October 2013
L-Acetylcarnitine: A Proposed Therapeutic Agent for Painful Peripheral Neuropathies Current Neuropharmacology, July 2006
Acetyl-L-carnitine (levacecarnine) in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. A long-term, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Acetyl-L-carnitine improves pain, nerve regeneration, and vibratory perception in patients with chronic diabetic neuropathy: an analysis of two randomized placebo-controlled trials. Diabetes Care, Jan 2005
The Therapeutic Effects of Acetyl-L-Carnitine on Peripheral Neuropathy: A Review of the Literature. Natural Medicine Journal 8/1/2010
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. See this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.