Possible Benefits of L-Carnosine for Autistic ChildrenL-Carnosine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. The highest concentrations of L-Carnosine are found in the heart, muscle, and brain tissues. Carnosine is classified as a dipeptide, which is a compound made up of amino acid molecules that are linked together. It is thought to enhance frontal lobe function in the brain, and research suggests that it is also a powerful antioxidant.
A synthetic form of carnosine is available, and sold as a supplement to help treat a variety of health issues. These include liver disease, cancer, cataracts, and Alzheimers disease. It is also marketed as an anti-aging nutrient. Some doctors and researchers also claim that carnosine can be of tremendous help to children with autism.
Research indicates that carnosine may help autistic children in a variety of ways, mainly centering around the child’s behavior, and language skills, and it may enhance nervous system function. Studies have reported that children who take carnosine supplements have shown improvement in the following areas:
- language comprehension
- object recognition
- awareness of surroundings
- fine motor skills
- auditory processing
A double blind, placebo controlled study of carnosine was conducted by Doctor Michael G. Chez, and several other researchers. In the study, thirty one autistic children between the ages of three to twelve years were treated with either a carnosine supplement, or a placebo. The study lasted eight weeks, and by the end most of the children who had been taking the carnosine supplements showed significant improvement in behavior, socialization, and communication skills. The amount and percentage of the childrens improvement was based on the standards of the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS), and the Expressive and Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary tests (E/ROWPVT). Reports given by the childrens parents were also used in the assessment of the childrens overall improvement. The children who had been taking the placebo instead of the carnosine, showed no improvements. The researchers stated that, “Oral supplementation with L-Carnosine resulted in demonstrable improvements in autistic behaviors, as well as increases in language comprehension that reached statistical significance.”
The results of the study were published in the Journal of Child Neurology in 2002. The original article and more details about Doctor Chezs study can be found here: http://www.cherabfoundation.org/2003/some-carnosine-resources/
Research indicates that the benefits of carnosine supplementation in autistic children are usually seen within one to eight weeks after the child begins taking it. Carnosine is tolerated very well by diabetics, and is compatible with both ketogenic, and gluten/casein free diets. It has also been reported that it may improve some EEG abnormalities and the frequency of both myoclonic and generalized seizures.
To date, there have been no harmful physical side effects reported by those taking carnosine. However, too high a dose may overstimulate some children, causing hyperactivity, irritability, or insomnia. This mainly occurs in children that have already been diagnosed as being manic or hyperactive, and the side effects usually resolve if the dose of carnosine is adjusted. Many parents have reported that their children seem to sleep better once they are on carnosine as well.
Although research indicates that carnosine may be a very beneficial supplement for children with autism, it is important to note that the studies that have been conducted are relatively recent, and there is much about carnosine that may still be unknown. A physician should always be consulted before starting any natural or over the counter supplement.
This article was featured in Issue 17 – Autism Awareness and Acceptance!