The Benefits of Carnosine

What Should I Know About It?

Carnosine is a substance produced naturally by the body. Classified as a dipeptide (a compound made up of two linked amino acid molecules), carnosine is highly concentrated in muscle tissue and in the brain. A synthetic form of carnosine is sold in supplement form and touted as a natural remedy for a host of health conditions.

Uses for Carnosine

Carnosine supplements are often marketed as anti-aging aids.

Some alternative medicine proponents also claim that carnosine can help treat or prevent a number of health problems, including:

In addition, carnosine is said to stimulate the immune system, enhance mood, improve memory, fight wrinkles, and preserve eyesight.

Benefits of Carnosine

Research indicates that carnosine has powerful antioxidant properties. Carnosine also appears to fight oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. It's thought that carnosine's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects could help protect against a number of aging-related conditions (such as Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular disease).

In animal-based studies and laboratory research, scientists have found that carnosine may offer a number of a health benefits, such as inhibiting the buildup of amyloid beta (a substance that forms the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease), preventing diabetes-related nerve damage, and promoting vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels, a process essential to keeping blood pressure in check).

Still, very few clinical trials have tested the potential health benefits of taking carnosine supplements. Until such trials are conducted, it's difficult to tell how consumption of carnosine might influence human health.

One of the few clinical trials involving carnosine is a small study published in the Journal of Child Neurology in 2002.

For the study, 31 children with autistic spectrum disorders took either a carnosine supplement or a placebo every day for eight weeks. By the end of the treatment period, members of the carnosine group showed significantly greater improvements in certain measures of functioning (including behavior and communication). The study's authors note that carnosine may benefit children with autism by enhancing nervous-system function.

Caveats

While very little is known about the safety of taking carnosine supplements, there's some concern that carnosine may disrupt your sleep. Since the health risks of carnosine supplements are unknown, it's important to seek medical advice before using carnosine.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals.

 Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Using Carnosine for Health 

It's too soon to recommend carnosine supplements as a standard treatment for any health problem. If you're considering the use of carnosine supplements for treatment of a condition, talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen. It's important to note that self-treating a condition with carnosine supplements and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Sources

Chez MG, Buchanan CP, Aimonovitch MC, Becker M, Schaefer K, Black C, Komen J. "Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of L-carnosine supplementation in children with autistic spectrum disorders." J Child Neurol. 2002 Nov;17(11):833-7.

Guiotto A, Calderan A, Ruzza P, Borin G. "Carnosine and carnosine-related antioxidants: a review." Curr Med Chem. 2005;12(20):2293-315.

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Hipkiss AR. "Could carnosine or related structures suppress Alzheimer's disease?" J Alzheimers Dis. 2007 May;11(2):229-40.

Hipkiss AR. "Would carnosine or a carnivorous diet help suppress aging and associated pathologies?" Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 May;1067:369-74.

Janssen B, Hohenadel D, Brinkkoetter P, Peters V, Rind N, Fischer C, Rychlik I, Cerna M, Romzova M, de Heer E, Baelde H, Bakker SJ, Zirie M, Rondeau E, Mathieson P, Saleem MA, Meyer J, Köppel H, Sauerhoefer S, Bartram CR, Nawroth P, Hammes HP, Yard BA, Zschocke J, van der Woude FJ. "Carnosine as a protective factor in diabetic nephropathy: association with a leucine repeat of the carnosinase gene CNDP1." Diabetes. 2005 Aug;54(8):2320-7.

Quinn PJ, Boldyrev AA, Formazuyk VE. "Carnosine: its properties, functions and potential therapeutic applications." Mol Aspects Med. 1992;13(5):379-444.

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Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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