Carnitine for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

How Does It Work?

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Carnitine, Energy, and Brain Function:

Carnitine, also called L-carnitine, helps your cells produce energy by breaking down fat. It also may help your brain utilize neurotransmitters, serotonin, and glutamate, which can be out of balance in people with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS). Carnitine is also an antioxidant.

Studies show that carnitine supplementation can help lower pain levels and boost the mental health of people with FMS, and can lessen fatigue in those with ME/CFS.

Researchers also found that people with either condition tolerated carnitine well.

Carnitine Dosage:

Studies have shown a therapeutic benefit from 500 mg of carnitine twice a day.

Carnitine in Your Diet:

Several foods contain carnitine, including:

  • Meat (especially red meat)
  • Dairy products
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Tempeh (fermented soybeans)
  • Wheat
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Peanut butter

Side Effects of Carnitine:

High carnitine levels can lead to side effects. Serious ones include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Fever

Less serious ones include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Stuffy nose
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping (especially when taken late in the day)

Carnitine can impair thyroid hormone action, so you shouldn't take it if your thyroid hormone levels are low or borderline low. It's also not recommended for anyone on dialysis. Carnitine has a higher risk of negative interactions with other supplements, so be sure to talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist before taking it.

It may be helpful to have a list of all of the medications and supplements you are taking readily for that conversation.

More Supplement Information

 

    Sources:

    Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. 2007 Mar-Apr;25(2):182-8. All rights reserved. "Double-blind, multicenter trial comparing acetyl l-carnitine with placebo in the treatment of fibromyalgia patients."

    Neuropsychobiology. 1997;35(1):16-23. All rights reserved. "Amantadine and L-carnitine treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."

    Nippon Rinsho. Japanese journal of clinical medicine. 2007 Jun;65(6):1005-10. "Chronic fatigue syndrome and neurotransmitters"

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