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01.03.2014


L-Carnitine reduces ADHD symptoms

Of children suffering from ADHD, half react positively to L-carnitine supplementation, according to a Dutch study published in 2002 in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. The children in whom L-carnitine has no effect probably absorb the molecule less well.
Of children suffering from ADHD, half react positively to L-carnitine supplementation, according to a Dutch study published in 2002 in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. The children in whom L-carnitine has no effect probably absorb the molecule less well.

ADHD & L-carnitine
Rats that suffer from oxygen deficiency immediately after birth sometimes show hyperactive behaviour, probably because of brain damage. But in 1997 Italian researchers reported that they were able to do something about this by administering a supplement containing acetyl-L-carnitine. [Neurosci Lett. 1997 Feb 28;223(3):201-5.]

Acetyl-L-Carnitine is believed to improve brain cell functioning by facilitating the burning of fatty acids, which helps brain and nerve cells to preserve their membranes.

Study
Dutch researchers at the Westfriesgasthuis and Erasmus University wondered whether L-carnitine could also help reduce hyperactive behaviour in children. Like acetyl-L-carnitine, L-carnitine also helps cells to burn fatty acids. In addition, administration of L-carnitine can boost the concentration of acetyl-L-carnitine in the body.

That's why the researchers carried out an experiment on 22 boys aged 6-13, all of whom had been diagnosed as having ADHD. The researchers gave the boys a fluid L-carnitine preparation twice a day after meals. The boys got 100 mg L-carnitine per kg bodyweight, with a maximum dose of 4 g L-carnitine per day.

They were given L-carnitine for a period of eight weeks. The researchers also gave the boys a placebo for another period of eight weeks.

Before and after the eight-week periods the researchers got the parents of the boys to fill in the Child Behavior Checklist. Psychologists use this questionnaire to determine whether a child has ADHD.

Results
Half of the children reacted positively to the L-carnitine; just over ten percent reacted positively to the placebo.

The figure below shows the children's scores before and after supplementation. The researchers split the children into responders and non-responders. They do not divulge how the children reacted to the placebo. The average scores of Dutch children without ADHD are shown for comparison.


Of children suffering from ADHD, half react positively to L-carnitine supplementation, according to a Dutch study published in 2002 in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. The children in whom L-carnitine has no effect probably absorb the molecule less well.


In the responders L-carnitine reduced the ADHD symptoms by 20-65 percent. So even among the responders there was no sign of a 'cure'.

When the researchers analysed the boys' blood, they found that the responders had higher levels of L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine than the non-responders.


Of children suffering from ADHD, half react positively to L-carnitine supplementation, according to a Dutch study published in 2002 in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. The children in whom L-carnitine has no effect probably absorb the molecule less well.


Conclusion
"Given twice daily, carnitine appeared to be effective and well tolerated for the treatment of a group of children with ADHD, that showed a significantly abnormal behavior compared to normal Dutch boys", the researchers conclude. "A larger scale study will be done to investigate the effect of treatment on the many more biochemical and psychological aspects of ADHD behavior."

We haven't been able to find this "larger scale study".

The Dutch researchers worked with carnitine manufacturer Sigma Tau. Sigma Tau sponsored the study through "randomization and blinding of the labeled medication" and "continuous support" in the form of a supervisor. The researchers did not receive money from Sigma Tau.

Source:
Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2002 Jul;67(1):33-8.

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