Carnosine is a supplement that is significantly helping some people. A product called Carn-Aware contains carnosine in its formulation and has shown improvement in clinical studies. Please research this in light of other measures you are doing to make sure it is right for your situation.
Carn-Aware Frequently Asked Questions
last updated 8.25.05
L-carnosine Therapy for Intractable Epilepsy in Childhood: Effect on EEG
Michael G. Chez, M.D., Cathleen P. Buchanan, Ph.D., Jamie L. Komen, M.A.
Objective: L-Carnosine is an amino acid dipeptide that may indirectly affect the electrochemical process in the brain. MRI spectroscopy has recently demonstrated that brain homocarnosine levels may correlate with seizure control. Due to these findings, we decided to examine whether ingesting dietary carnosine would decrease spike and wave activity and improve seizure control both clinically (overt seizures) and physiologically (EEG) by raising homocarnosine levels in the brain.
Design/Methods: Seven children (3 female, 4 male; age range 2-12 years) meeting inclusion criteria were enrolled in a 10 week study, beginning with a baseline EEG reading. Participants were then administered 400mg BID of powdered L-Carnosine for the 10 week time period and a final EEG was subsequently read by Dr. Chez.
Results: After 10 weeks of Carnosine therapy, 5 of the 7 participants documented improved EEG findings and all 7 children exhibited improvement in seizure frequency. While not formally evaluated, improvement in the domains of global cognition, behavior and language function was reported in all 7 participants. While these domains were not predicted to be affected by the L-Carnosine supplementation, they were elicited spontaneously via blinded therapists and family members.
Conslusions: L-Carnosine may be a useful add-on medication for intractable seizure disorders. Although, the exact mechanism is unknown, L-Carnosine is believed to bind with GABA to form homocarnosine in the brain and may also modulate copper and zinc influx into the neurons decreasing the after-discharges and spike-wave discharges associated with many seizure disorders. This may decrease the frequency of clinical seizures and, in some cases, improve EEG patterns.
Citation of Published Abstract:
Chez, Michael G., Buchanan, Cathleen P., and Jamie Komen. L-Carnosine Therapy for Intractable Epilepsy in Childhood: Effect on EEG. Epilepsia 2002; 43(7): 65.
Double-Blind, placebo-controlled Study of L-Carnosine supplementation in children with autistic spectrum disorder
Michael G. Chez, M.D., Cathleen P. Buchanan, Ph.D.,
Jamie L. Komen, M.A., Marina Becker, R.N.
Objective: L-Carnosine is an amino acid dipeptide that may enhance frontal lobe function. We therefore sought to investigate whether L-Carnosine supplementation for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) results in observable, objective changes in language and/or behavior in contrast to placebo.
Design/Methods: Thirty-one children (21 M, mean age= 7.45; range = 3.2-12.5 yrs) meeting inclusion criteria were enrolled in an 8 week blinded trial of either 400 mg BID powdered L-Carnosine or placebo. Children were assessed at a pediatric neurology clinic with the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS), the Expressive and Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary tests (E/ROWPVT), and biweekly parental Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGI), at baseline and 8 week endpoint.
Results: Children who were on placebo (n=17) did not show statistically significant changes on any of the outcome measures. After 8 weeks on L-Carnosine, children (n=14) showed statistically significant improvements on the GARS total score, GARS Behavior, Socialization, and Communication subscales, and the ROWPVT (all p’s<.05). EOWPVT and CARS showed trends in improvements, which were supported by parental CGI.
Conclusions: Oral supplementation with L-Carnosine resulted in demonstrable improvements in autistic behaviors as well as increases in language comprehension that reached statistical significance. Although the mechanism of action of the amino acid is not well understood, it is believed that it acts to modulate neurotransmission and affect metal ion transfer of zinc and copper in the entorhinal cortex. This may enhance neurological function or act in a neuroprotective fashion.
[Note: seizures are associated with those with autism]
to some questions about their product and safety
Carnosine has a long medically reviewed history including many purported uses. Recent MRI spectroscopy studies of brain chemicals and epilepsy literature on Carnosine and Homocarnosine suggested a possible neurotransmitter or neuroprotective role that was observed by our clinical experience to benefit cognition in epileptics and also our autistic spectrum patients. We have carefully researched the medical literature and have found multiple articles on neuroprotection and copper and zinc modulation properties. Unlike theories of alanine binding copper and causing damage, Carnosine, a natural dipeptide (that is, it is a substance that is normally produced by the body) is already found to protect against excessive copper influx into cells.
In addition, areas of the brain where Carnosine accumulates are the same areas of highest copper and zinc deposits. There is no medical literature supporting Carnosine/copper combined toxicity. Based on animal studies, humans would need 200,000mg-400,000mg per day to get Carnosine toxic based on weight. Therefore we cite the references below and hope it is helpful.
Marchis, S. De.; Modena, C.; Peretto, P.; Migheli, A.; Margolis, F.L.; & A. Fasolo. Carnosine-Related Dipeptides in Neurons and Gilia. Biochemistry (Moscow).
Vol. 65 (7) 2000, 824-833.
Trombley, P.Q.; Horning, M.S.; & L.J. Blakemore. Interactions between Carnosine and Zinc and Copper: Implications for Neuromodulation and Neuroprotection. Biochemistry Moscow. Vol. 65 (7) 2000, 949-960.
As well, many purported agents or supplements touted by some have been shown to cause damage in humans. High dose B6 may cause neuropathies. Magnesium may displace calcium and cause renal stones, muscle cramps, or fatigue. High dose Vitamin A can cause pseudotumor cerebri. Chelatory agents may deplete Copper and Zinc and even cause bone marrow dysfunction if this occurs. Chelating agents can damage kidney and liver function. As a physician, these problems are well known risks.
Review of the medical literature was performed to look for any clinical data that concerned us prior to the Carnosine clinical studies. Carnosine has been used in various ways since the 1930's, but never in children with epilepsy or autism. Our work is promising, but does not claim to cure autism.
It is however the only dietary supplement ever shown in a double-blind placebo controlled study to help receptive language and some core autistic symptoms. Double-blind placebo controlled studies are the gold standard for the evaluation of any scientific/medical treatment. No other supplement or vitamin has ever been studied in this manner. More work is needed to confirm our initial findings and we plan to pursue it.
We have over 1000 patients world-wide on this, and the patients have had duration of therapy up to 18 months without any sign of toxicity.
We again recommend any use of any supplement be in conjunction with a physician's guidance.