This amino acid & antioxidant pair is proving to be a fountain of youth in a bottle.

We were highly skeptical of this therapy a year ago. But the published reports of research results convinced us to give it a whirl. Our own successful and often astonishing response to this treatment for a variety of ills appears on the linked pages below.

The mechanism of aging is not yet understood and cannot be reversed at this point in time. However the cellular effects of this aging process can be curtailed to a significant degree and age-related damage reversed by the actions of this amino acid and anti-oxidant combination.

"We significantly reversed the decline in overall activity typical of aged rats to what you see in a middle-aged to young adult rat 7 to 10 months of age," Hagen says. "This is equivalent to making a 75- to 80-year-old person act middle-aged. We've only shown short-term effects, but the results give us the rationale for looking at these things long term."
(Bruce Ames, Tory Hagen; Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and the University of California at Berkeley)
Click on carnitine mice above for research details.

Research began in Italy over a year ago and the clinical findings have sparked international interest. Prescription medications in Europe, acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) are sold as over-the-counter "supplements" here in the USA.

Acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) work on a cellular level to repair the mitochondria (energy source) within the cells to restore damaged neural pathways. Large doses of these chemicals taken over time have been shown to reverse cognitive impairment and diabetic neuropathy, as well as retarding the deterioration of renal and hepatic cells due to aging.

Acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) is an esterified form of the amino acid, l-carnitine. Another carnitine ester is propionyl-l-carnitine (PLC). (PLC is not readily available here in the US, but research has shown ALC and PLC to have equivilent efficacy.) Esters are the active forms of compounds, and as such, ALC and PLC have demonstrated a greater variety of medical applications and superior efficacy to "plain" l-carnitine. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that works in a similar fashion to carnitine.

Summaries and excerpts from clinical trials for each area of medicine appear on the linked pages (below). Some of the trials have investigated the use of alpha lipoic acid (ALA) alone, others tested the effects of one or both of the carnitine esters, and still other research has scrutinized the effects of "plain" l-carnitine. Additionally there is data on the result of ALC and ALA administered simultaneously to treat a variety of conditions.

Read details about Acetyl-L-Carnitine's method of action.

Early in the evolution of life on earth, oxygen was a toxic waste product. On a cellular level this is still true. (more here)

Learn why the amino acid, acetyl-l-carnitine should be paired with anti-oxidant, alpha lipoic acid.
The Hagen & Ames research has proven that adding alpha lipoic acid (ALA) to acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) is an important safety consideration. A downside to ALC use is oxidative tissue damage resulting from the beneficial actions of carnitine compounds. Hagen and Ames found that the addition of ALA completely eliminates this side effect. Together ALC and ALA exert a synergistic effect.

Dosage appears to be damage dependent. Anecdotally we have been hearing of young and/or relatively healthy individuals with only mild degrees of neurological impairment responding to low doses of ALC/ALA that would have no effect at all on an older individual or one with a greater degree of damage. Additionally younger persons have shown response to this treatment in as short a time as a single week, while older persons are unlikely to see improvements until months have passed. The beginnings of benefits may be seen as early as 6 weeks, but substantial improvements typically take 4 months at high dosage levels to materialize.

My husband age 60, 280 lbs takes 5000mgs (5 grams) ALC & 2000mg (2 grams) ALA per day. At age 55 and 150 lbs, I take 2000mgs ALC & 800mg ALA per day. (I also dispense smaller daily amounts to our senior pets with the intent of slowing age-related chronic kidney failure: 400mg ALC/160mg ALA to our overweight 10 yr old sheltie and 50mg ALC/20 mg ALA transdermally to our 20 yr old cat.)

(Data derived from various clinical trials excerpted below (in black type); the only source of information at this time.)

1) Those with seizure disorders should only use acetyl-L-carnitine under medical advisement and supervision.
2) Anyone who is taking an MAOI medication (an infrequently prescribed anti-depressant medication) is advised to visit
this page before beginning ALC/ALA therapy. (Contains anecdotal account of a singular case that could indicate both a possible risk and an apparent solution.)
3) Always take these supplements with a glass of milk or food. ALA frequently causes an over-acid stomach. To avoid acid reflux problems, do not take ALA immediately before going to bed.
4) ALC/ALA stimulates cerebral cortex activity and can interfere with sleep. As with #3 above, it is a good idea to allow a few hours between bedtime and your last daily dose of ALC/ALA.

The side effects above, IF they appear, may not show up until you are several months into the therapy.
Because of ALC's excellent tolerability, with infrequent and often temporary side effects, it has great potential of being a safe and efficacious therapeutic compound. Oral doses from 1.5 grams to 3.0 grams per day are typically in the therapeutic range for most conditions..
from: Acetyl-L-Carnitine: Metabolism and Applications in Clinical Practice
John H. Furlong N.D.
None Known.
Because of lack of long-term safety studies, acetyl-L-carnitine is not advised for pregnant women or nursing mothers. Those with seizure disorders should only use acetyl-L-carnitine under medical advisement and supervision.
Mild gastrointestinal symptoms may occur in those taking acetyl-L-carnitine supplements. These include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
Increased agitation has been reported in some with Alzheimer's disease when taking oral acetyl-L-carnitine. In those with seizure disorders, an increase in seizure frequency and/or severity has been reported in some taking this substance. The incidence of this in this population is low.
Therapy with the nucleoside analogues didanosine (ddI), zalcitabine (ddC) and stavudine (d4T) may lead to decreased acetyl-L-carnitine levels.
Therapy with valproic acid and the pivalic acid-containing antibiotics may lead to secondary L-carnitine deficiencies.
There are no reports of overdosage.
Mild gastrointestinal symptoms have been reported in those taking oral L-carnitine, including transient nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Mild myasthenia has been reported in uremic patients taking the racemic mixture D,L-carnitine. There are no reports of mild myasthenia in uremic patients receiving L-carnitine. Supplemental L-carnitine is generally well tolerated.
Although the incidence is low, seizures have been reported to occur in those with or without pre-existing seizure disorders receiving either oral or intravenous L-carnitine. In those with pre-existing seizure activity, an increase in seizure frequency and/or severity has been reported.
Therapy with valproic acid, the nucleoside analogues didanosine (ddI), zalcitabine (ddC) and stavudine (d4T) may produce secondary L-carnitine deficiencies. So might the pivalic acid-containing antibiotics, pivampicillin, pivmecillinam and pivcephalexin. These antibiotics are used in Europe.
Choline supplementation may lead to increased L-carnitine retention. Vitamin C deficiency may lead to secondary L-carnitine deficiency.
There have been no reports of toxicity from L-carnitine overdosage. The oral LD50 of L-carnitine in mice is 19.2 grams per kilogram.
Alpha Lipoic Acid:
ALA produced no unfavorable side effects in the patients taking this substance. (intravenous high dose) "Itís very safe," says Dr. Dyck. "There have been no known complications." Dr. Dyck says that the intravenous ALA preparation at the dosage he studied is not available to U.S. physicians. It is available in oral form and in smaller doses in drug stores.
from: Antioxidant Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) Significantly Improves Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
Mayo Clinic in Rochester Monday, April 07, 2003

Unfortunately this therapy is neither inexpensive nor covered by insurance. For my husband, the monthly cost runs about $60, and approximately $90 for both of us and our geriatric animals. The good news is that the prices have been steadily declining due to increased demand. Carnitine and alpha lipoic acid are becoming frequently added ingredients in many vitamin formulas for older persons, commercial feed formulated for older pets and livestock, and even face cream.

Some places that we and others have found to purchase ALC/ALA at reasonable prices
Acetyl L-carnitine 500mg 120 Vcaps & Alpha Lipoic Acid 200mg 120 Vcaps
Package Deal for $24.95
(It is a bit hard to find on the page - look for CN02&04 in Item # column)
$21.99 for 60 capsules (500 mg of acetyl L-carnitine/200 mg of alpha lipoic acid)
($15.00 with GNC gold card)
These can also be purchased at GNC stores also. cid=88&scid=3594&CFID=5087128&CFTOKEN
$45.99 for 240 capsules (500 mg of acetyl L-carnitine/200 mg of alpha lipoic acid) 236086&BrandName=Source+Naturals&BrandId=15&BreadCrumbType =Shop&SkuName=Acetyl+L-Carnitine+%26+Alpha+Lipoic
$13.99 for 60 tabs of combination ALC/ALA 650 mgs each
Dr. Trust Acetyl L-Carnitine 500mg 180 Caps $29.99
Dr. Trust Alpha Lipoic Acid 300mg 120 Caps $11.99
Time-Release version of ALA
Jarrow: manufactures a time-release version of ALA
Alpha lipoic sustain 300mg (60 Tabs)
JR-005Retail price: $27.95Sale price: $20.97
These places sell ALC and ALA in Bulk Powder Form, as well as Capsules
Acetyl L Carnitine 100 grams of powdered ALC for $9.00
Alpha Lipoic Acid 50 grams pure powder, $10.50
153-0188 Acetyl-L-Carnitine Powder, 3 oz. $19.99
234-0017 Pure ALA, 300mg, 180 capsules $23.99
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