Both ALCAR (Acetyl-L-Carnitine) and ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid) improve sciatica (nerve pain down the leg)
This was a randomized, double-blind trial conducted in a hospital setting. A total of 64 consecutive patients with acute backache and moderate sciatica were recruited. The 33 patients in group 1 received 1180 mg of ALCAR daily for two months and the 31 patients in group 2 received 600 mg of ALA daily for the same period. The researchers measured changes in clinical signs and symptoms as measured on the Neuropathy Impairment Score in the Lower Limbs (NIS-LL) questionnaire, the Neuropathy Symptoms and Change in the Lower Limbs (NSC-LL) questionnaire, and the Total Symptom Score (TSS) questionnaire. The next level of improvement was how successful were the supplements in improving neurological deficit as measured by electromyography to gauge improvement in nerve function compared with the start of the study.
Both treatments produced significant improvements from baseline in nerve pain on electromyography at day 60. ALA worked slightly better than ALCAR although the between-group difference was slight and not statistically significant. 71% of patients receiving ALA reported a decreased need for pain killers while 45.5% of those on ALCAR reported a decreased need for pain killers. The study is published in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation, 2008;28(8):495-500.