Carnitine is essential for mitochondrial energy production. Disturbance in mitochondrial function may contribute to or cause the fatigue seen in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients. Previous investigations have reported decreased carnitine levels in CFS. Orally administered L-carnitine is an effective medicine in treating the fatigue seen in a number of chronic neurologic diseases. Amantadine is one of the most effective medicines for treating the fatigue seen in multiple sclerosis patients. Isolated reports suggest that it may also be effective in treating CFS patients. Formal investigations of the use of L-carnitine and amantadine for treating CFS have not been previously reported. We treated 30 CFS patients in a crossover design comparing L-carnitine and amantadine. Each medicine was given for 2 months, with a 2-week washout period between medicines. L-Carnitine or amantadine was alternately assigned as fist medicine. Amantadine was poorly tolerated by the CFS patients. Only 15 were able to complete 8 weeks of treatment, the others had to stop taking the medicine due to side effects. In those individuals who completed 8 weeks of treatment, there was no statistically significant difference in any of the clinical parameters that were followed. However, with L-carnitine we found statistically significant clinical improvement in 12 of the 18 studied parameters after 8 weeks of treatment. None of the clinical parameters showed any deterioration. The greatest improvement took place between 4 and 8 weeks of L-carnitine treatment. Only 1 patient was unable to complete 8 weeks of treatment due to diarrhea. L-Carnitine is a safe and very well tolerated medicine which improves the clinical status of CFS patients. In this study we also analyzed clinical and laboratory correlates of CFS symptomatology and improvement parameters.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry