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Acetyl-L-Carnitine Reduces Depression

Acetyl-L-Carnitnine is a specific form of the amino acid l-carnitine. Acetyl-L-Carnitine has some unique cognitive enhancing abilities as it enhances the production and activity of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. It has been shown to enhance cognitive function in people with impaired mental function, especially age-related cognitive decline, as well as in young, healthy people.

Not only can acetyl-l-carnitine help you study for an exam or finish a project by providing clarity of thought and enhanced memory ability, but it also might be able to boost mood and ward of depression. Several studies have shown acetyl-l-carnitine to be effective for relieving depression in those who are suffering from depression due to sickness or old age. Doses in the studies were typically 2-4 grams daily. Interestingly, another study found acetyl-l-carnitine to have anti-anxiety properties, although the mechanism for this action was not determined.

Exactly how acetyl-l-carnitine exerts it anti-depressive effect is not completely understood, but it may have something to do with its effects on the cholinergic system. The combination of the cognitive-enhancing and anti-depressive effects of acetyl-l-carnitine make it a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease as mentioned in several papers. Acetyl-L-Carnitine may or may not improve mood and sense of well being in those who are not already suffering from a decline in these areas, although anecdotal evidence suggests that it might and its cognitive-enhancing effects are indeed apparent in people with good mental health.

 

Sources:

1. Acetyl-L-carnitine. (1999). Alternative Medicine Review : a Journal of Clinical Therapeutic. 4(6), 438-41.

2. Soczynska JK, Kennedy SH, Chow CS, Woldeyohannes HO, Konarski JZ, & McIntyre RS. (2008). Acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid: possible neurotherapeutic agents for mood disorders? Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs. 17(6), 827-43.

3. Rossini M, Di Munno O, Valentini G, Bianchi G, Biasi G, Cacace E, Malesci D, La Montagna G, Viapiana O, & Adami S. (2007). Double-blind, multicenter trial comparing acetyl l-carnitine with placebo in the treatment of fibromyalgia patients. Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. 25(2), 182-8.

4. Pettegrew JW, Levine J, Gershon S, Stanley JA, Servan-Schreiber D, Panchalingam K, & McClure RJ. (2002). 31P-MRS study of acetyl-L-carnitine treatment in geriatric depression: preliminary results. Bipolar Disorders. 4(1), 61-6.

5. Levine J, Kaplan Z, Pettegrew JW, McClure RJ, Gershon S, Buriakovsky I, & Cohen H. (2005). Effect of intraperitoneal acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) on anxiety-like behaviours in rats. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology / Official Scientific Journal of the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum (CINP). 8(1), 65-74.

6. Pettegrew JW, Levine J, & McClure RJ. (2000). Acetyl-L-carnitine physical-chemical, metabolic, and therapeutic properties: relevance for its mode of action in Alzheimer’s disease and geriatric depression. Molecular Psychiatry. 5(6), 616-32.

7. Bella R, Biondi R, Raffaele R, & Pennisi G. (1990). Effect of acetyl-L-carnitine on geriatric patients suffering from dysthymic disorders. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research. 10(6), 355-60.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cassie is a chemistry major and national level bodybuilder. Questions or comments? Talk to Cassie on the FORUM or on FACEBOOK.

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