Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) has been studied as a possible treatment for memory issues and fatigue. (Note: Acetyl-L-carnitine is not the same as L-carnitine.)
Acetyl-L-carnitine has been studied in MS due to its potential effects on fatigue. One small-scale study found that acetyl-L-carnitine significantly decreased fatigue as indicated by the Fatigue Severity Scale. Amantadine (Symmetrel), a standard MS-associated fatigue medication, did not produce a significant effect. Neither acetyl-L-carnitine nor amantadine affected fatigue as measured by the Fatigue Impact Scale. More work needs to be done to determine exactly how effective acetyl-L-carnitine is for treating fatigue.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is generally well tolerated. Some possible side effects include anxiety, agitation, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Similar side effects may occur with amantadine. Acetyl-L-carnitine is not known to have any negative drug interaction. Those taking acetyl-L-carnitine should have regular blood tests to monitor blood count and liver and kidney function. When taken, acetyl-L-carnitine is usually administered in two or three doses over the course of a day, adding up to a total of 1,500 to 4,000mg.
References and Additional Reading
Bowling AC. Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2007.
Bowling AC, Stewart TS. Dietary Supplements and Multiple Sclerosis: A Health Professional’s Guide. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2004.
Jellin JM, Batz F, Hitchens K, et al. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2009.
Ulbricht CE, Basch EM, eds. Natural Standard Herb and Supplement Reference: Evidence-Based Clinical Reviews. St. Louis: Elsevier-Mosby, 2005.