4 Ways ALCAR May Help Memory and Assist Head Trauma

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.

Acetyl L-CarnitineStudies 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.

Type 2 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.

Acetylcholine deficiency – Fight it with Nootropics

Acetylcholine, chemically, is an organic molecule (molecule containing a carbon-carbon or carbon-hydrogen bond). Its function is to behave like a neurotransmitter among humans and other living organisms. Neurotransmitters are chemicals produced inside the body that aid in transmitting electric signals from a neuron or a nerve ending to another target cell across a junction, known as synapse. The structure of the acetylcholine molecule includes an ester linkage between choline and acetic acid and is chemically represented as CH3COO (CH2)2N (CH3)3.

We hear much about vitamins and minerals, but very little about these important phospholipids, including acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine molecules are packaged inside synaptic membrane enclosed vesicles at a nerve ending, from where the molecules are ejected into the synaptic cleft. Acetylcholine molecules then diffuse across the cleft and bind to receptors in the membrane of the target post synaptic cell or neuron. This way signals and triggers are transmitted to render different bodily functions.

Acetylcholine has a crucial role in the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is also the primary transmitter to connect muscles to motor nerves via the neuromuscular junction. Acetylcholine is responsible for cognitive functioning, like memory formation, and muscle movement, coordination and communication by triggering muscle contraction as ordered by the brain. Hyperactivity or hypo-activity of the neurotransmitter can lead to problems and deter proper functioning of the body. To regulate the levels of acetylcholine, our body produces an enzyme called acetlycholinesterase.

This enzyme breaks down acetylcholine to recycle it and stop the electric signals. To further make sure that the levels of acetylcholine do not deplete, inhibitors are present that inhibit the action of acetlycholinesterase temporarily. The entire system is complex and concentration levels of all chemicals need to balanced and regulated carefully. In case there is an irregularity, it can lead to low levels of acetylcholine in the brain. Also, with age, levels of acetylcholine tend to decrease.

Unfortunately, according to a published report titled the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) covering the period of 2003 and 2004, only about 10% of the population has a diet with sufficient amount of choline.  In other words, at least 90% of the population has a diet deficient in choline.  This deficiency is highest among older children, men, women, and particularly pregnant women.  The same survey also found that health care professionals are unlikely to recommend choline to patients or to recognize a deficiency.  Indeed only 6% of OB/GYNs surveyed were likely to recommend increased choline intake to pregnant women or women intending to become pregnant.

Acetylcholine deficiency can have devastating effects on the body. Patients face trouble with forming and retrieving memories. They forget faces, names, and other crucial information. They have a poor span of focus and cannot concentrate even for short period of times.  Their thoughts tend to jumble up and patients remain confused most of the times. Patients show uncontrolled muscle movements and often tremors pass through their bodies. In severe cases, acetylcholine deficiency can lead to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and myasthenia gravis, a muscular disease.  In addition, liver function shows decline in people with a deficiency in acetylcholine and insufficient choline intake in their diets.


courtesy of cholineinfo.org

Thus, it is imperative that proper levels of acetylcholine are maintained. Dietary sources are one way to do that. Egg yolks are a major source of precursors needed for the formation of acetylcholine molecule.  A web site by the name of cholineinfo.org has very good information on the choline properties of foods, including the graphic shown.

While it is preferred to get adequate choline intake from dietary sources, this is not always possible. Nootropic supplements are another way to boost up acetylcholine. They rapidly increase the neurotransmitter’s levels and lead to improved memory and better concentration.

One of the most bio-available forms of nootropic choline is Alpha GPC. L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine or choline alfoscerate, as it is also known is a naturally occuring nootropic that possesses stand alone nootropic benefits as well as being a powerful synergizing compound. It is also found endogenously in our body in small amounts and is manufactured as an extract, a highly purified form of soy lecithin. Lecithin is the brain building nutrient found in eggs, dairy, meat and wheat germ).  Alpha GPC is an intermediate form of acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter that is responsible for learning, memory and movement related tasks.

Choline bitartrate is pure choline in a salt form that can be absorbed in the intestines with limited problems. Alpha GPC is also a precursor to choline that goes through several changes in the intestines and while crossing the blood-brain-barrier.  It is not as good at converting to acetylcholine, which should be the goal for any nootropic supplement used as a cholinergic.

Citicoline is also a choline source that, unlike choline bitartate or other choline supplements lower on the food chain, has stand alone nootropic benefits.  In addition to providing the choline support your brain craves, it also has some dopaminergic activity to help with mood and memory. Citicoline is a precursor to both choline and dopamine so increased energy, productivity, motivation and focus may accompany increased levels of dopamine which is the pleasure, wakefulness and reward-feedback neurotransmitter. Dopamine spills out when you feel accomplished or do something you enjoy or love.

Reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, obtained from plants, are extracted and purified as yet another method to obtain the nootropic supplements. Huperzine A is one of them. It is obtained from Chinese moss and is part of many nootropic stacks, including Alpha Brain. Another nootropic supplement extracted from different species of flowering plants is galantamine. It is a powerful nootropic used to treat Alzheimer’s disease but has to be used cautiously and in small amounts.

The usage and dosage of nootropic supplements to treat acetylcholine deficiency are only to be assigned by a medical professional. Great care has to taken when consuming the supplements. If they are taken without consulting a doctor, acetlycholinesterase can be inhibited for long periods of time, leading to a whole set of new problems. Some negative side effects have shown in numerous patients. They include nausea, restlessness, and vomiting and decreased heart rate in some. So it is advisable that people with heart conditions and epilepsy avoid using Huperzine A and galantamine.

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