Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is an amino acid that occurs naturally within the human body and is normally present in sufficient quantities, but there can be many advantages associated with increasing the levels of this substance via a supplement. ALCAR is broken down in the blood by plasma esterases to carnitine which is used by the body to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria for breakdown. As a nootropic, Acetyl L-Carnitine is sometimes referred to as ALCAR, and it is typically taken to improve the user’s mental performance. However, the medical field has been interested in ALCAR for a long time due to other attractive potential benefits, ranging from improved glucose distribution for diabetics to the reversal of head trauma damage and depression.
If you are considering adding ALCAR to your regular nootropic routine, it is a good idea to learn extra about the scientific research that supports the many claims manufacturers and retailers make about this particular supplement. Therefore, we have compiled a list of just a few of the many studies and clinical trials that have focused on the health perks of taking Acetyl L-Carnitine.
Studies about the Effectiveness of Using ALCAR for Multiple Medical Issues
1. Assistance with Traumatic Brain Injuries
In 2011, a group of scientists utilized test subjects that had suffered a traumatic brain injury in order to determine if the administration of ALCAR after the fact would have any positive benefits. The results proved that treating this injury within the first 24 hours with Acetyl L-Carnitine reduced the cortical lesion volume and provided neurological improvements. Each of the test subjects received 100 mg of ALCAR four times during the 24-hour time period.
2. Reversing Memory Loss
A research study help in 1999 looked carefully at the possibility of reversing partial or full memory loss in elderly rats by utilizing ALCAR. The test subjects in this study had damage to the nucleic acid, protein, and mitochondria in their brain, and this is similar to what happens to Alzheimer’s patients. Each rat had doses of ALCAR ranging from 0.15 to 0.5 percent, and this helped restore the amount of carnitine in their brain and plasma to the levels that are found in healthy, young rats. Additionally, the test rats exhibited a partial reversal in mitochondrial damage and memory loss. In other words, ALCAR may help prevent your brain from becoming damaged in this way in the first place, and this may help boost your cognitive performance.
3. Periphal Neuropathy
Meta-analyses from 2015 and 2017 both conclude that the current evidence suggests ALCAR reduces pain from peripheral neuropathy with few adverse effects. The 2017 review also suggested ALCAR improved electromyographic parameters in diabetes patients. Both studies called for more randomized controlled trials to study the potential for reduction of nerve pain.
4. Hope for Diabetics
A study conducted in 2000 into the role between ALCAR and glucose disposal indicated that this supplement is able to assist patients who have Type 2 Diabetes. In a nutshell, the patients who participated in the study group experienced positive benefits from taking any amount of ALCAR, but 5 mg per pound for each person’s individual body weight was the standard dosage. This guided to a significant improvement in the glucose metabolism for every participant, and the scientists involved theorized that this could eventually be used to reverse the glycogen synthase inhibition of people with diabetes.
5. Minimizing Alcohol Induced Brain Damage
Drinking on a routine basis can cause a long list of health problems, including a significant reduction in cognitive functionality due to oxidative damage. In 2010, research was published that conclusively links ALCAR to a reduction in neuronal degeneration, neuro-inflammation and impaired neurotransmission. During the testing period, scientists once again proved that ALCAR was beneficial for preventing or reversing mitochondrial damage, particularly in the brain. The test subjects that took Acetyl L-Carnitine also had restored synaptic neurotransmission and significantly reduced amounts of neuronal loss and oxidative damage when compared to the control subjects. This means that ALCAR acts as a neuroprotective agent that can help prevent not only the brain damage that is caused by alcohol but also the development of a long list of neurological disorders.
6. Depression Treatment
One 2014 review assessed the use of ALCAR in fourteen clinical trials for various conditions with depressive symptoms; the trials were small (ranging from 20 to 193 subjects) and their design was so different that results could not be generalized; most studies showed positive results and a lack of adverse effects due to the neuroplasticity of ALCAR. The mechanism of action by which ALCAR could treat depression is not known, but the same study showed some promise for treatment of fibromyalgia. A meta-analysis from 2014 concluded that ALCAR could only be recommended for the treatment of persistent depressive disorder if publication bias was deemed improbable.
Using ALCAR as a Nootropic Supplement
With all of these medical and cognitive benefits, it is no wonder that so many people choose to take an Acetyl L-Carnitine supplement one or two times daily. Although each user’s exact dosage needs may vary, the typical person takes between 500 and 1,500 mg of ALCAR per day. A good starting point for nootropic benefits is 1,000 mg, but be sure to adjust this as needed based on the supplements in your stack. It is also advisable to keep track of any new side effects that may develop after usage starts.
Though ALCAR is generally well tolerated and considered safe for usage, individuals with low or borderline-low thyroid levels should avoid Carnitine because it might impair the action of thyroid hormone. Those with any physical condition involving reduced liver or kidney function should only consider the usage of ALCAR or other supplements under the direct supervision of a physician.
Generally as a nootropic, ALCAR is not used alone. Most people stack it with a choline supplement and sometimes include racetam supplements in a stack. ALCAR has significant health benefits and should be considered for use in everyone’s stack. The main advantages are its aid in helping to reduce oxidative stresses within the brain. It is also believed to help with acetylcholine synthesis and is considered of great value to a cholinergic stack.