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When dealing with the fatigue and muscle pain in fibromyalgia, patients can be distraught over how hopeless their condition is. Medications may be too strong and there are too many supplements to count. But could L-Carnitine help both symptoms at once?

When it comes to your fibromyalgia, a lot of text encourages patients to try many options to deal with the persistent symptoms associated with this disease. Fatigue, muscle pain and depression represent the trinity of what to expect when the doctor first diagnoses fibromyalgia [1]. A big reason for this is because there are no specific therapies in medicine to target the multiple symptoms that are happening at once [2]. Supplements for fibromyalgia have received much attention as alternative routes to help patients manage the difficulties associated with this condition. In previous articles, I have focused on how we can use magnesium for healthy brains and boneshow melatonin can bring fibromyalgia pain relief and even how plant extracts like St. John's wort and Chlorella are becoming mainstays in fibromyalgia alternative therapy. One theory attempting to explain the origins of fibromyalgia postulates that mitochondrial function is compromised in patients with fibromyalgia and that can lead to the sluggishness and fatigue that follows [3]. L-carnitine is an invaluable substrate that is involved producing energy but can L-carnitine ease your muscle pain? 

What is L-Carnitine 

When trying to discern what is occurring in the body when we are generating energy, the science can often go over many patients' heads and the message can be lost. Electrons are transported throughout the mitochondrial membrane and transporters act as ferries to help make this whole process viable. L-carnitine is one of these transporters. To simplify it further in case you do not share the same passion for science as I do, think of electrons as fuel and these transporters as trucks bringing them to a factory (the mitochondria) for processing. The mitochondria factory turns this fuel into energy that our body needs in the form of ATP. [4]

L-Carnitine is specific to the process that helps us use fatty acids for energy. It is naturally produced in the body but we often bolster our own internal reserves with traditional Western diets. Red meats like beef and lamb have some of the highest levels of carnitine that we consume. We need L-Carnitine to help us in times of fasting. If we do not have enough material to process in order to generate energy when our metabolism is high, we use L-Carnitine to bring fat from our fat reserves in order to use that to keep our metabolisms active. Don't worry, this process is safe and happens every time we exercise. This transporter also has a second job of controlling oxidative stress in the body. This is a fancy term to describe natural processes that deal with inflammation [5]. This is a key reason why L-Carnitine is thought to have a role in treating patients with prolonged inflammatory conditions such as fibromyalgia but the question remains can L-Carnitine ease your muscle pain? [6]

Can L-Carnitine Really Ease Your Muscle Pain? 

Now that we have a better understanding of what L-Carnitine actually is, can we use this as a supplement for fibromyalgia to bring fibromyalgia pain relief?  A study was done to answer just that question. In this investigation, 102 fibromyalgic patients were split into two groups with the target group receiving 2 pills of 500 milligram L-Carnitine daily and with an additional injection of 500mg of liquid L-Carnitine.  Patients were on this L-Carnitine supplementation for nearly 3 months and their general condition was assessed at the conclusion of the study. The key parameter was determining if the patients had fewer "tender points" to see if the supplement was effective. It was determined that L-Carnitine supplementation significantly reduced the number of tender points that patients felt. This confirms that L-Carnitine is a good choice for fibromyalgia pain relief. To further bolster its case to be considered a supplement for fibromyalgia, patients also reported improvements in depression and musculo-skeletal pain after this study. [7]

At this point, our question whether L-Carnitine can ease your muscle pain is resoundingly answered as a strong yes, but if you remember from the beginning of the article, L-Carnitine has two functions physiologically and we have yet to touch on its metabolic role. Is it possible to improve other symptoms of fibromyalgia like fatigue by taking this supplement? A study was conducted to determine the effects of L-Carnitine supplementation on patients with hypothyroidism. These patients also have low energy levels and often seek supplements to help boost their metabolism. In this study, 60 patients suffering from fatigue secondary to hypothyroidism were given 2 capsules of 500 mg L-Carnitine daily for a period of 3 months. At the conclusion of this study, it was determined that supplemental L-Carnitine significantly improved the patient's general condition and led to reduced mental fatigue. [8]  

If this supplement can improve the lives of patients suffering from hypothyroidism, it stands to reason that it will have the same effects on patients with other chronic fatigue syndromes such as fibromyalgia. Patients taking L-Carnitine can benefit not only from the pain relieving nature of this compound but also from the boost of energy they will experience to help overcome the persistent fatigue linked with their fibromyalgia. 

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