Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Common Nutrient May Ease Diabetic Pain

Acetyl-L-Carnitine May Aid Symptoms From Diabetic Nerve Damage
Font Size
A
A
A

WebMD Health News

Jan. 6, 2005 -- A common nutrient sold as a dietary supplement may help ease the pain caused by diabetic neuropathy, according to two new studies.

An analysis of the studies shows that a 1,000 milligrams three times a day of acetyl-L-carnitine was effective in relieving pain caused by nerve damage associated with the condition.

Diabetic neuropathy is a common long-term complication of diabetes and results in damage to nerve fibers, which can cause pain or a tingling sensation. People with this condition also suffer from a loss of sensory perception in the affected areas.

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is a naturally occurring chemical and is often sold as a dietary supplement.

Nutrient May Treat Diabetic Neuropathy

In the analysis, which appears in the January issue of Diabetes Care, researchers evaluated the results of two studies testing two doses of acetyl-L-carnitine -- 500 milligrams and 1,000 milligrams three times a day.

The two studies involved 1,257 people with diabetic neuropathy in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and lasted for one year.

The analysis shows that people treated with the 1,000-milligram dose of acetyl-L-carnitine showed significant improvement after both six months and one year of treatment. Those who experienced the greatest pain reduction after one year with the 1,000-milligram dose were those with type 2 diabetes, those who took their medications as directed, and those who had their diabetes less than optimally controlled (HgA1c was greater than 8.5%).

In addition, the degree of pain relief was greatest among those who had diabetes for the shortest time period. Those with the shortest duration of diabetes also showed improvements in nerve structure and perception of vibration.

Researchers say those results indicate that longer studies are needed to examine the full effect of acetyl-L-carnitine in the treatment of neuropathic pain. For example, starting the therapy at an earlier stage may delay progression or reduce severity of the condition.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article