Acetyl-L-Carnitine reduces pain in drug induced nerve damage (neuropathy) in HIV positive patients

March 09, 2006

The antiviral medication used in HIV positive patients causes damage to nerve tissue leading to toxic neuropathy. Medical therapy only offers partial benefit and eventually the patient will often discontinue using the antiretroviral medication due to the degree of nerve pain. It is thought that the mitochondria (the powerplant) of the nerve cell doesn't function well. This leads to damage and reduction of mitochondrial DNA (genetic material) reducing growth factor activity needed to repair nerve tissue and nerve function and this is the genesis of the onset of the neuropathy. Carnitine is needed by the mitochondria to create energy and it is needed for many anabolic (building) reactions. Supplementation with Acetyl-L-Carnitine promotes regeneration of peripheral nerves, protects these self same nerves (neuroprotective) and has a direct analgesic role reducing pain in the nerves by affecting neurotransmitters locally. In this study 20 patients with painful antiretroviral toxic neuropathy were supplemented with oral Acetyl-L-Carnitine, 2,000mg a day for 4 weeks (a very short time in the treatment of neuropathy). The McGill Pain Questionnaire was uised weekly to rate each point on an 11-point intensity scale. Electromyography was used at both the start and end of the 4-week period to assess nerve function. Average pain intensity was significantly reduced during the study falling from an average of 7.35 to an average of 5.8 within this brief timespan. The study is published in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of the Periphertal Nervous System.

Many nutrients useful for mental health

The aim of these British researchers was to review the evidence and safety of nutritional supplements and their use for mental health. The researchers reviewed medical journals and electronic journals. They found that both Ginkgo biloba and Hydergine are potential cognitive enhancers, that Passion Flower and Valerian are useful as sedatives, that S-Adenosylmethionine and St. John's wort are useful as antidepressants,, and that Folic Acid and Selenium help antidepressants work better. The research was performed at the Division of Psychiatry, Homerton University Hospital, in London and is publsihed in the February 2006 issue of The British Journal of Psychiatry,, the Journal of Mental Science.