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Acetyl-L-Carnitine For Alzheimer's Disease

    Acetyl-l-carnitine is a substance naturally found in cells. Acetyl-l-carnitine[ACL] helps transport fatty acids into the cells where the fats are burned for energy. Acetyl-l-carnitine is not a drug and can be found in health food stores. Acetyl-l-carnitine has been shown by many studies to protect brain cells from various kinds of insults [3-4].Is acetyl-l-carnitine effective? Some studies report good results. A study in 1990 shows that ACL increased name learning and digit recall in alzheimer patients [5]. A study in 1992,using 2.5 to 3.0 grams ACL daily, shows improved forward digit span recall and better verbal fluency in alzheimer patients [6]. Two studies gave alzheimer patients ACL for a year. ACL slowed the progression of the disease, as measured by the Blessed Dementia Scale and the Mini Mental State Exam [7-8]. ACL seems to be most effective for patients with early-onset alzheimer's disease [9] and in younger alzheimer patients [10].
Some studies have found ACL to be ineffective. One recent study gave 3.0 grams daily, and found no benefit for ACL [11]. One study finds that 10 milligrams of selegiline daily more effectively increases information processing and recall in patients than does 2.5 grams of acetyl-l-carnitine daily [12]. However, another study finds that acetyl-l-carnitine more effectively increases attention and recall in alzheimer patients than piracetam, which is a popular mind-enhancing drug [13]. The weight of evidence seems to suggest that for many patients, acetyl-l-carntine can be helpful, and it has the advantage of minimal side effects.