~ Acetyl-L-Carnitine Improves Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic polyneuropathy is a painful complication of diabetes that results from damage to the nerves by high levels of blood glucose. The condition can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, foot ulcers and even amputations. In the January 2005 issue of the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes Care (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/), it was revealed that acetyl-L-carnitine not only improves the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, but also helps regenerate nerve fibers and vibration perception.

The researchers evaluated 1,257 patients who had participated in one of two 52 week randomized trials of 500 or 1000 milligrams acetyl-L-carnitine, or a placebo three times per day. Subjects were evaluated for nerve conduction velocity and vibratory threshold before treatment and at the end of the study. Two hundred forty-five patients underwent nerve biopsies at the study’s onset and conclusion. Neuropathy symptoms were assessed at both time points.

Comparison of biopsy results determined that treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine increased the number of nerve fibers and regenerating nerve fiber clusters. While nerve conduction velocity did not improve, vibration perception increased. Clinical symptoms also improved in groups treated with acetyl-L-carnitine compared to placebo. Participants who received 1,000 milligrams acetyl-L-carnitine thrice daily demonstrated significant improvement in pain at the study’s midpoint and conclusion. Those who experienced the greatest pain relief were those who had the shortest duration of diabetes, showing that neuropathy needs to be treated early in the course of the disease. The authors of the report suggest longer trials initiated at an earlier stage of diabetic neuropathy.

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