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L-Carnitine May Help Lung Health in Children
By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, March 20, 2012, abstracted from “L-Carnitine Improves the Asthma Control in Children with Moderate Persistent Asthma” printed online November 23, 2011 in the Journal of Allergy
Childhood asthma has been called “a major public health problem” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood asthma increased an average of 4.3% every year from 1980 to 1996. It accounts for 14 million missed school days each year, is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among those younger than 15 years of age, and costs society $3.2 billion each year (1).
Now a new randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (2)   suggests that L-Carnitine, shown to benefit exercise recovery (3), insulin health (4), and liver health (5), may also benefit lung health in children. In the study, 50 children diagnosed with moderate asthma (as defined the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) (6) were randomly subdivided into two equal groups and given either 1,050 mg of L-Carnitine (3 capsules, 350 mg given each morning) or placebo (3 identical appearing capsules containing lactose given at the same time) each day for 6 months
Before and after the study, all children provided blood samples and their asthma was assessed via the Childhood Asthma Control Test (7). With test scoring between 0 and 27, a score of 19 or less indicated that the asthma may not be well controlled. The children also completed a lung function test with a spirometer to measure lung capacity.
By the end of the study, the results were:
L-Carnitine Group
Placebo Group
% Decrease
% Decrease
Significance (P)
Number of Emergency Room Visits
3.1 to 1.5
3.4 to 2.6
Total Number of Hospital Admissions
1.5 to 0.44
1.8 to 1.8
Intake Doses of Oral Steroids
2.16 to 1.2
2.12 to 1.6
% Eosinophils (measure of inflammation)
5.8 to 3.1
6.04 to 4.4
Regarding the Childhood Asthma Control Test, the L-Carnitine group had a 23% increase (13.4 to 16.5) compared to a 4% increase in the placebo group (12.8 to 13.3). For the spirometer test (expressed as a ratio of the amount of breath exhaled to the amount of breath inhaled), the L-Carnitine group had an 18% increase (60.1 to 71) compared to a 1% increase in the placebo group (60.2 to 61).
For the researchers, “From our best knowledge, this study was the first to investigate the benefit of L-Carnitine supplementation in asthmatic children. In the current study, [lung function was] significantly improved in the asthmatic children who received L-Carnitine supplementation than in those who did not.”
Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Hauppauge, NY.  You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com
1.       “Asthma’s Impact On Children and Adolescents” posted on the CDC website www.cdc.gov/asthma/children.htm
2.       Al-Biltagi M, et al., L-Carnitine Improves the Asthma Control in Children with Moderate Persistent Asthma. Jou Allergy 2012; 2012; 2012: 509730. Published online 2011 November 23. doi: 10.1155/2012/509730
3.       Ho JY. L-Carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favorably affects biochemical markers of recovery from physical exertion in middle-age men and women. Metabolism 2010;59:1190–1199
4.       Galloway SD. Effects of oral L-carnitine supplementation on insulin sensitivity indices in response to glucose feeding in lean and overweight/obese males. Amino Acids 2011; 41: 507-515
5.       Malaguarnera L. L -Carnitine Supplementation to Diet: A New Tool in Treatment of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis — A Randomized and Controlled Clinical Trial. Amer Jou Gastroenterology 2010;105(6):1338-45
6.       National Institute of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Asthma Education, and Prevention Program, “Expert panel report 3: guidlines for diagnosis and management of asthma,” Washington, DC, USA, NIH, 2007, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma
7.       A. H. Liu, R. Zeiger, C. Sorkness et al., “Development and cross-sectional validation of the childhood asthma control test,” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vol. 119, no. 4, pp. 817–825, 2007.