L-carnitine is a natural substrate that serves as an electron transporter. It brings electrons to the mitochondria, the energy-producing structures of the cells. The mitochondria convert the particles into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a form of energy usable by the body.
The chemical sees heavy use during the metabolic process that turns fatty acids into ATP. During fasting periods where the body does not get any energy from food, L-carnitine takes fatty acids from the body’s fat reserves and hauls the fuel to the mitochondria. It also does this during physical exercise.
Finally, the chemical also helps regulate oxidative stress and keeps inflammation in check, which significantly reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
The human body produces L-carnitine naturally. It can also be obtained from eating beef, lamb, and other red meats. L-carnitine is available as a health supplement and comes in liquid injectable and pill forms.
Fibromyalgia is associated with uncontrolled inflammation and dysfunctional mitochondrial processes. Experts believe that the anti-inflammatory and energy-boosting properties of L-carnitine may help alleviate the many symptoms of fibromyalgia. (Related: Vitamins that help manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia.)
L-carnitine reduces painful tender points in fibromyalgia patients
Researchers at the University of Verona tested the potential of L-carnitine supplements to provide pain relief for patients with fibromyalgia. In 2007, they assembled a cohort of fibromyalgia patients and divided the participants into a control group and a target group.
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While the control group went untreated for their fibromyalgia, the members of the target group took two 500 milligram pills of L-carnitine every day. They also received an injection of 500 milligrams of liquid l-carnitine.
The supplementation period lasted for three months. At the end of the study, the researchers assessed the number of “tender points” experienced by the participants who took the L-carnitine supplement.
They found that L-carnitine supplementation greatly reduced the tender points of the supplemented participants. Furthermore, the supplement reduced the amount of pain experienced by the patients. Last but not least, it improved the mood of the people.
The Verona researchers concluded that L-carnitine might serve as an effective pain relief for fibromyalgia. They published their findings in the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.
L-carnitine is an energy booster for people suffering from fibromyalgia-related fatigue
Some experts believe that fibromyalgia disrupts the normal function of mitochondria. The cellular structures produce less energy, which might contribute to the fatigue and sluggishness experienced by patients.
Like fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism reduces the energy levels of patients. A deficiency of thyroid hormones results in chronic fatigue due to the lack of energy.
Every day, the researchers administered 1,000-milligram oral doses of L-carnitine supplements to a 60-strong cohort of patients with hypothyroidism. The treatment period lasted for three months, the same length as the Verona study.
The KU researchers reported that hypothyroidism patients who supplemented with L-carnitine exhibited improvements in their general condition. The participants also displayed improvements in mental fatigue. By extension, these health benefits might also apply to fibromyalgia patients, who also suffer from physical and mental fatigue.
Together, the Verona and KU studies showed that L-carnitine health supplements might improve the lives of patients with fibromyalgia. L-carnitine not only relieved the pain caused by the disorder, but it also reversed chronic fatigue by increasing the amount of energy available in the body.