Sometimes people seem obsessed with finding the “next” best thing and forget the tried and true. When it comes to supplements, this translates as chasing down the next açaí berry, while abandoning the “older” supplements that really work. This is not hypothetical, but can easily be tracked in the sales of different supplements and in the questions that companies receive, such as: “Why aren’t you using ingredient X in your antioxidant formula?” In the world of natural anti-aging solutions, carnosine is one such ingredient. It was almost 10 years ago that I first started playing with carnosine as an “anti-aging” ingredient and incorporating it in formulas. At that time, the ingredient was almost unknown in the U.S. and Europe, with almost all the research being done in Russia and Australia. Pretty much the only major people incorporating it in formulas at that time were myself and the Life Extension Foundation.
Within a couple of years, however, carnosine was appearing everywhere: in supplements, eye drops, and skin creams — all promoting its anti-aging benefits. And for awhile, people bought lots of it. But then three things happened.
- Much of the carnosine being used was very low grade — pure crap, to put it in technical terms. It wasn’t very effective. The good stuff cost substantially more and was harder to get. That meant that the “carnosine” products from a lot of companies simply didn’t do anything.
- It was an expensive ingredient when it first came out so much of it was used at pixie dust levels, purely as label dressing — so companies could claim they had it in their products. Unfortunately, that meant it had virtually no effect, and people eventually stopped buying these products. This severely tarnished carnosine’s reputation as an effective anti-aging ingredient. The problem is that carnosine’s effectiveness doesn’t just build gradually. If you don’t take enough of it during the day, it simply has no effect. The reason is that carnosine is readily degraded by the enzyme carnosinase in the human body. You need to take enough to overwhelm the carnosinase so that “undegraded” carnosine can make its way to the cells of your body. The amount varies according to age and diet, but in general, for people in their mid-thirties and higher, you’re looking at 1000-1500 mg a day. If you’re younger, healthy, and include lots of meat in your diet, 500 mg a day is probably enough. But less than that, and you might as well be taking sugar pills.
- And as it turns out, people have short memories. Other anti-aging solutions began to appear in the news — ingredients such as growth hormone and resveratrol that pushed carnosine out of the news. At that point, no one was looking for carnosine products for anti-aging. That was “old fashioned,” like Carter’s Little Liver Pills. They were looking for resveratrol and açaí berry. And suddenly you had resveratrol and açaí supplements and skin care products flooding the market. Carnosine was nowhere to be found. (Incidentally, I have nothing against either resveratrol or açaí. I was using resveratrol in my antioxidant formulas back in 1999, years before it became “hot.” As for açaí, I introduced it to the Health Sciences Institute for a feature story in 2003, long before Dr. Perricone promoted it on Oprah.)
And that’s where things stood with carnosine until Dr. Oz “discovered” it last year (about ten years behind the curve) and made it “hot” once again — at least for awhile. Unfortunately, because the quality of much of the carnosine out there is still suspect and because many companies are still using it as label dressing, it once again failed to produce as advertised and once again faded from the news. And that’s a shame!
Because, even though it’s “yesterday’s news” and no longer trendy, carnosine, when used properly, is one of the most effective and fast acting natural anti-aging options available — and that’s being confirmed and validated in study after study. And quite simply, there is probably no other supplement you can easily take without a doctor monitoring you, that will produce a faster change in your appearance!
With that in mind, let’s take a fresh look at carnosine — what we knew ten years ago when I first wrote about it and used it in formulas, and what we now know as the result of the most recent studies.
Carnosine 10 years ago
L-carnosine (AKA carnosine), a naturally occurring combination of two amino acids, was discovered in Russia in the early 1900s. Because much of the pioneering research was done in Russia, it was largely unavailable to the rest of the world until a number of studies and experiments in other parts of the world began verifying those studies — and more.
Most notably, there were a series of astonishing experiments done in Australia that proved that carnosine rejuvenates cells as they approach senescence (the stage just before death where a cell is still alive, but essentially non-functional). The studies showed that cells cultured with carnosine lived longer and retained their youthful appearance and growth patterns.
What’s probably the most exciting result of the studies is that it was discovered that carnosine can actually reverse the signs of aging in senescent cells.
How to Reverse Aging in Cells
In one study, when scientists transferred senescent cells to a culture medium containing carnosine, those cells exhibited a rejuvenated appearance and often an enhanced capacity to divide.[fn] McFarland, G.A., R. Holliday. “Retardation of the Senescence of Cultured Human Diploid Fibroblasts by Carnosine.” Exp Cell Res 212:2 (1994): 167–175. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8187813> [/fn],[fn] McFarland, G.A., R. Holliday. “Further Evidence for the Rejuvenating Effects of the Dipeptide L-Carnosine on Cultured Human Diploid Fibroblasts.” Exp Gerontol 34:1 (1999): 35–45. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10197726> [/fn] When they transferred the cells back to a medium lacking carnosine, the signs of senescence quickly reappeared.
As they switched the cells back and forth several times between the culture media, they consistently observed that the carnosine medium restored the juvenile cell phenotype within days, whereas the standard culture medium brought back the senescent cell phenotype. In addition, the carnosine medium increased cell life span — even for old cells. When the researchers took old cells that had already gone through 55 divisions and transferred them to the carnosine medium, they survived up to 70 divisions, compared to only 57 to 61 divisions for the cells that were not transferred.
This represents an increase in the number of cell divisions for each cell of almost 25%.
But in terms of cell life, the increase was an astounding 300%. The cells transferred to the carnosine medium attained a life span of 413 days, compared to just 126 to 139 days for the control cells.
Increase Life Expectancy
A Russian study on mice subsequently showed that mice given carnosine are twice as likely to reach their maximum lifespan as untreated mice.[fn] Yuneva, M.O., E.R. Bulygina, S.C. Gallant, et al. “Effect of Carnosine on Age induced Changes in Senescence-accelerated Mice.” J Anti-Aging Med 2:4 (1999): 337–342. <http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/rej.1.1999.2.337> [/fn],[fn] Boldyrev, A., R. Song, D. Lawrence, et al. “Carnosine Protects Against Excitotoxic Cell Death Independently of Effects on Reactive Oxygen Species.” Neuroscience 94:2 (1999): 571–577. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10579217> [/fn] Carnosine also significantly reduces the outward “signs of old age.”
In effect, it makes the mice look younger. 44% of the carnosine treated mice had young, glossy coats in old age as opposed to only 5% in the untreated mice. This represents 900% better odds of looking young in old age.
Another important difference between the treated and the untreated mice was in their behavior. Only 9% of the untreated mice behaved youthfully in old age, versus 58% of the carnosine treated mice. That’s a 600% improvement in how they felt.
Protein Glycation: Sugar and Aging
Glycation is the uncontrolled reaction of sugars with proteins. It’s kind of like what happens to sugars when you heat them and they caramelize. In effect, glycation is what happens when excess sugars and/or alcohols caramelize the proteins in your body. It’s a major factor in the aging process — and it’s particularly devastating to diabetics.
Your body is mostly made up of proteins. In fact, proteins are the substances most responsible for the daily functioning of your body. That’s why anything that causes protein deterioration has such a dramatic impact on the body’s function and appearance.
Thanks largely to the destructive effect of sugar and aldehydes (compounds formed by the oxidation of alcohol), the protein in our bodies tends to undergo destructive changes as we age. This destruction is a prime factor, not only in the aging process itself, but also in the familiar signs of aging such as wrinkling skin, cataracts, and the destruction of our nervous system — particularly our brains. Studies show that carnosine is effective against all these forms of protein modification.
Protein Modification for Longevity
As I said, aging is associated with damage to cellular proteins. But carnosine protects cellular proteins from damage in at least two ways.
- Carnosine bonds with the carbonyl (or aldehyde) groups that if left alone will attack and bind with proteins.[fn] Hipkiss, A.R., C. Brownson. “A Possible New Role for the Anti-ageing Peptide Carnosine.” Cell Mol Life Sci 57:5 (2000): 747–753. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10892341> [/fn],[fn] Hipkiss, A.R., C. Brownson. “A Possible New Role for the Anti-ageing Peptide Carnosine.” Cell Mol Life Sci 57:5 (2000): 747–753. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10892341> [/fn]
- It works as an antioxidant to prevent the formation of oxidized sugars, also called Advanced Glycosylation End-products or AGEs for short. That’s really the caramelization thing that I mentioned earlier. The bottom line here is that the less AGEs, in your body, the younger you are.[fn] Asif, M., J. Egan, S. Vasan, et al. “An Advanced Glycation Endproduct Cross-link Breaker Can Reverse Age-related Increases in Myocardial Stiffness.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:6 (March 2000): 2809–2813. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10706607> [/fn],[fn] Liu, J., M.R. Masurekar, D.E. Vatner, et al. “Glycation End-product Cross-link Breaker Reduces Collagen and Improves Cardiac Function in Aging Diabetic Heart.” Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 285:6 (December 2003): H2587–H2591. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12946933> [/fn]
Both of these processes have important implications for anti-aging therapy. The key is that carnosine not only prevents damaging cross-links from forming, it eliminates cross-links that have previously formed in proteins, thus restoring normal membrane function in cells.
Carnosine has been proven to reduce or completely prevent cell damage caused by beta-amyloid (AKA amyloid-beta, amyloid ß-protein, and Aß), one of the prime suspected protein risk factors for Alzheimer’s. The presence of beta-amyloid leads to damage of the nerves and arteries of the brain. Carnosine blocks and inactivates beta-amyloid.[fn] Preston, J.E., A.R. Hipkiss, D.T. Himsworth, et al. “Toxic Effects of Beta-amyloid(25-35) on Immortalised Rat Brain Endothelial Cell: Protection by Carnosine, Homocarnosine and Beta-alanine.” Neurosci Lett 242:2 (February 1998): 105–108. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9533405> [/fn] In effect, it protects neural tissues against dementia. The key is that carnosine not only prevents damaging cross-links from forming in proteins, it eliminates cross-links that have previously formed in those proteins, thus restoring normal membrane function in cells. This is true not only in the brain, but in all the organs of our body — our skin included. Keep in mind that the damage you see in the skin is not just a cosmetic question. That damage is absolutely an indicator of the kinds of damage happening to every other organ in your body — including your eyes and your brain.
It should be noted that although still “unproven,” the beta-amyloid connection to Alzheimer’s is nevertheless the dominant theory as to its primary cause. The mainstay of the amyloid ß-protein hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease is that a gradual and chronic imbalance in the production versus the clearance of Aß leads to a slow rise in its steady state levels in brain tissue. This leads to beta-amyloid plaque accumulation and subsequently, to the complex molecular and cellular changes associated with the disease.[fn] Dennis J. Selkoe “Alzheimer’s disease results from the cerebral accumulation and cytotoxicity of amyloid ß-protein.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Volume 3, Number 1, February 2001 75-81. <http://www.j-alz.com/issues/3/3(1)/selkoe_p75.pdf> [/fn] Thus anything that helps inhibit excess beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain — or even better, helps remove it — is likely to be Alzheimer’s protective.
Carnosine has the remarkable ability to throttle down bodily processes that are in a state of excess, and to ramp up those that are under expressed. For example, carnosine thins the blood of people whose blood tends to clot too much and increases the clotting tendency in those with a low clotting index.[fn] Quinn, P., A.A. Boldyrev, et al. “Carnosine: Its Properties, Functions and Potential Therapeutic Applications.” Molec Aspects Med 13 (1992): 379–444. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9765790> [/fn]
Another example is that carnosine suppresses excess immune responses in those who have “hyper” immune systems, whereas it stimulates the immune response in those with weakened immune systems — such as the aged.[fn] Quinn. Carnosine: Its Properties[/fn] This is a critical benefit for people with allergies and people with autoimmune disorders.
And, as a neurotransmitter, carnosine even seems to have the ability to normalize brain wave functions.[fn] Rosick, Edward R. “How Carnosine Protects Against Age-Related Disease.” Life Extension Magazine (January 2006). <www.lef.org/magazine/mag 2006/jan2006_report_carnosine_02.htm.> [/fn] In fact, studies indicate that carnosine might play an invaluable role in helping to prevent and control seizures.[fn] Wu XH, Ding MP, Zhu-Ge ZB, et al. “Carnosine, a precursor of histidine, ameliorates pentylenetetrazole-induced kindled seizures in rat.” Neurosci Lett. 2006 May 29;400(1-2):146-9. Epub 2006 Mar 3. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16515835> [/fn]
Carnosine — the New Studies
And that’s where things stood when I first wrote about carnosine ten years ago. Since then, the evidence of carnosine’s benefits has continued to pour in. For example, a 2010 study published in Rejuvenation Research found that adding carnosine to the diet of fruit flies produced a 20% increase in the average life span of male flies.[fn] Stvolinsky S, Antipin M, Meguro K, Sato T, Abe H, Boldyrev A. “Effect of carnosine and its Trolox-modified derivatives on life span of Drosophila melanogaster.” Rejuvenation Res. 2010 Aug;13(4):453-7. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20681748> [/fn] Curiously, it had no effect on the lifespan of female flies — until water-soluble vitamin E was also added. At that point, female flies experienced an immediate 36% increase in longevity. Although fruit flies are not human beings, this study confirms observations already seen in human subjects. Note: the reason for using fruit flies as test subjects is that their short lifespan allows for quick observation on whether a nutrient increases lifespan or not. By itself, this study may not mean a lot, but when analyzed in the context of the following studies, it’s extremely powerful.
Carnosine helps control blood glucose
A recent study found that there is evidence that the release of carnosine from skeletal muscle during physical exercise affects autonomic neurotransmission and physiological functions. In particular, carnosine positively impacts the activity of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves that supply energy to the adrenal glands, liver, kidney, pancreas, stomach, and white and brown fat tissues, thereby causing beneficial changes in blood pressure, blood glucose, appetite, lipolysis, and the thermogenic burning of fat.[fn] Nagai K, Tanida M, Niijima A, et al. “Role of L: -carnosine in the control of blood glucose, blood pressure, thermogenesis, and lipolysis by autonomic nerves in rats: involvement of the circadian clock and histamine.” Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):97-109. Epub 2012 Feb 25. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22367578> [/fn] In summary, carnosine lowers elevated blood sugar levels, improves insulin production and sensitivity, and promotes the loss of weight and body fat. And if this were not enough, studies have shown that people who are diabetic or even pre-diabetic have lower-than-normal carnosine levels in both their muscle and brain cells — levels about 63% below normal, which is similar to levels found in people in their 70’s.[fn] McFarland. Retardation. [/fn]
The bottom line is that in addition to its life extension benefits, L-carnosine is beginning to emerge as an indispensible supplement for diabetics. It not only helps control primary factors in the onset of diabetes, but it also protects against diabetic echo effects such as organ protein degradation, loss of kidney function,[fn] Kilis-Pstrusinska K. “Carnosine, carnosinase and kidney diseases.” Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2012 Apr 20;66:215-23. <http://www.phmd.pl/fulltxt.php?ICID=991600> [/fn],[fn] Janssen B, Hohenadel D, Brinkkoetter P, et al. “Carnosine as a protective factor in diabetic nephropathy: association with a leucine repeat of the carnosinase gene CNDP1.” Diabetes. 2005 Aug;54(8):2320-7. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16046297> [/fn] damage to the eyes,[fn] Francesco Attanasio, Sebastiano Cataldo, et al. “Protective Effects of l- and d-Carnosine on a-Crystallin Amyloid Fibril Formation: Implications for Cataract Disease.” Biochemistry, 2009, 48 (27), pp 6522–6531 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19441807> [/fn] neuropathy,[fn] Sibylle Sauerho, Gang Yuan, Gerald Stefan Braun. “L-Carnosine, a Substrate of Carnosinase-1, Influences Glucose Metabolism.” Diabetes October 2007 56:2425-2432 <http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/56/10/2425.full.pdf> [/fn] and cardiovascular damage[fn] Rashid I, van Reyk DM, Davies MJ. “Carnosine and its constituents inhibit glycation of low-density lipoproteins that promotes foam cell formation in vitro.” FEBS Lett. 2007 Mar 6;581(5):1067-70. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17316626> [/fn],[fn] Stvolinsky SL, Dobrota D. “Anti-ischemic activity of carnosine. Biochemistry (Mosc)”. 2000 Jul;65(7):849-55. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9113734> [/fn] — not to mention actually helping the heart muscle contract more efficiently.[fn] Zaloga GP, Roberts PR, Black KW, et al. “Carnosine is a novel peptide modulator of intracellular calcium and contractility in cardiac cells.” Am J Physiol. 1997;272(1 Pt 2):H462-8. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9038968> [/fn]
Carnosine Helps with Wound healing
In a study published just last month, treatment with L-carnosine enhanced wound healing significantly. In addition, wound tissue analysis showed increased expression of growth factors and cytokines genes involved in wound healing.[fn] Ansurudeen I, Sunkari VG, Grünler J, et al.”Carnosine enhances diabetic wound healing in the db/db mouse model of type 2 diabetes.” Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):127-34. Epub 2012 Mar 24. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22451275> [/fn] And even further, in vitro analysis of human dermal fibroblasts (the cells that promote skin healing) and microvascular-endothelial cells (the cells responsible for regenerating new blood vessels after injury) showed that carnosine increases cell viability in the presence of high glucose. But this is not only important for diabetics. In fact, wound care for the elderly in long term and acute care facilities is often extremely difficult — not to mention very costly for the facilities involved. Again, the connection between seniors in general and people with diabetes is the dramatically lower levels of carnosine in their cells shared by both groups. In other words, the benefits in wound healing experienced by diabetic patients is likely to be seen by the general senior population as well.
Carnosine Protects Against the Side Effects of Chemotherapy
The protective effects of carnosine in mouse bone marrow cells against damage to their genetic structure caused by the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide were reported in the April issue of Cell Biochemistry and Function.[fn] Naghshvar F, Abianeh SM, Ahmadashrafi S, Hosseinimehr SJ. “Chemoprotective effects of carnosine against genotoxicity induced by cyclophosphamide in mice bone marrow cells.”Cell Biochem Funct. 2012 Apr 26. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22535690> [/fn] In the study, mice were injected with solutions of carnosine at different doses for five consecutive days. On the fifth day of treatment, mice were injected with the highly toxic chemotherapy drug, cyclophosphamide. Blood cells and bone marrow were then examined. Carnosine significantly reduced both damage to blood cells and bone marrow toxicity normally induced by cyclophosphamide. It appears that the antioxidant capabilities of carnosine reduced the oxidative stress and genotoxicity induced by the chemotherapy drug.
In addition, cancer researchers are starting to identify how carnosine’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities may not only play a chemoprotective role, but actually help protect against cancer itself. How? First, as just mentioned in the paragraph above, carnosine helps block DNA damage that can lead to transformation of healthy cells into malignant cells.[fn] Hyland P, Duggan O, Hipkiss A, Barnett C, Barnett Y. “The effects of carnosine on oxidative DNA damage levels and in vitro life span in human peripheral blood derived CD4+T cell clones.” Mech Ageing Dev. 2000 Dec 20;121(1-3):203-15. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11164474> [/fn] In addition, it has demonstrated a significant ability to both inhibit tumor growth[fn] Renner C, Zemitzsch N, Fuchs B, et al. “Carnosine retards tumor growth in vivo in an NIH3T3-HER2/neu mouse model.” Mol Cancer. 2010;9:2. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20053283> [/fn] as well as the metastasis of existing cancers.[fn] Chuang CH, Hu ML. “L-carnosine inhibits metastasis of SK-Hep-1 cells by inhibition of matrix metaoproteinase-9 expression and induction of an antimetastatic gene, nm23-H1.” Nutr Cancer. 2008;60(4):526-33. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18584487> [/fn]
Carnosine Protects Against Alcohol Induced Liver Damage
In yet another confirmation of carnosine’s ability to protect against damages from excess levels of sugar and alcohol in the bloodstream, a study published in the June issue of Toxicology and Industrial Health has shown that supplementation with carnosine is effective for both preventing and repairing biochemical alterations and morphologic damage in the liver caused by exposure to alcohol.[fn] Baykara B, Cilaker Micili S, Tugyan K. “The protective effects of carnosine in alcohol-induced hepatic injury in rats.”Toxicol Ind Health. 2012 Jun 1. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22661399> [/fn] In other words, regular supplementation with carnosine might be worth considering if you’re prone to regularly party down.
Carnosine Protects Your Brain
Two facts lend more credence to the idea that supplemental carnosine is beneficial to your brain. First, it has been known for some time that brain tissue naturally contains high levels of carnosine, which are capable of reducing the oxidative and glycemic stresses to which the brain is especially vulnerable.[fn] Ron Kohen, Yorihiro Yamamoto, Kenneth C. Cundy, Bruce N. Ames. “Antioxidant activity of carnosine, homocarnosine, and anserine present in muscle and brain.” Proc. NatI. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 85, pp. 3175-3179, May 1988. <http://www.pnas.org/content/85/9/3175.full.pdf> [/fn] Carnosine in brain tissue reduces inflammation, a harmful factor in and of itself,[fn] Fleisher-Berkovich S, Abramovitch-Dahan C, Ben-Shabat S, Apte R, Beit-Yannai E. “Inhibitory effect of carnosine and N-acetyl carnosine on LPS-induced microglial oxidative stress and inflammation.” Peptides. 2009 Jul;30(7):1306-12. Epub 2009 Apr 10. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19540429> [/fn] and as we’ve already discussed, carnosine reduces the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, a probable key factor in the onset of Alzheimer’s. And of course, as I discussed 10 years ago, carnosine is an effective heavy metal chelator that crosses the blood-brain barrier and thus can help reduce the toxic impact of heavy metals that may accumulate in the brain.[fn] Charles Eric. Brown, William E. Antholine. “Chelation chemistry of carnosine. Evidence that mixed complexes may occur in vivo.” J. Phys. Chem., 1979, 83 (26), pp 3314–3319. <http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/j100489a002> [/fn]
The second key fact is that more recent studies have shown that carnosine levels are actually significantly lower in patients with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease than in people without those problems.[fn] Fonteh AN, Harrington RJ, Tsai A, Liao P, Harrington MG. “Free amino acid and dipeptide changes in the body fluids from Alzheimer’s disease subjects.” Amino Acids. 2007 Feb;32(2):213-24. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17031479> [/fn] This might indicate either a carnosine deficiency that allows for the onset of the diseases (remember that carnosine levels are dramatically lower in pre-diabetics, diabetics, and the elderly) or that the diseases themselves exhaust the carnosine supplies in the brain. Or both together! Either way, numerous studies now point to the role carnosine might play in both protecting the brain from Alzheimer’s and even Parkinson’s disease, for that matter.[fn] Hipkiss AR. “Could carnosine or related structures suppress Alzheimer’s disease?” J Alzheimers Dis. 2007 May;11(2):229-40. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17522447> [/fn],[fn] Tsai SJ, Kuo WW, Liu WH, Yin MC. “Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory protection from carnosine in the striatum of MPTP-treated mice.” J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Oct 6. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20925384> [/fn] Even more exciting, sufficient supplementation with carnosine may even play a role in helping to reverse at least some of that damage.
Make no mistake; L-carnosine may no longer be “new” news. And it may no longer be trendy; but it still ranks as one of the most important anti-aging supplements available to us today. Not only is it protective for all of the long-term conditions mentioned above, but it is probably the single supplement most likely to produce a visible “youthening” of your appearance in the shortest possible time — three to six months.
The following may not be scientific proof, but it is worth considering. I’m turning 65 in February, and my sister still calls me Peter Pan. In fact, even though she’s five years younger than I am, she always introduces me as her younger brother — to avoid questions. I’ve been supplementing with 1,500 mg of carnosine a day (using my own formulas) for 10 years now. My skin looks years younger than my age. Neither my sister nor any of my other siblings supplement with carnosine. They don’t look the same, so we’re not talking genetics here.
It may not be scientific, double-blind-study proof — but I’m just sayin!
Note: I still recommend using a carnosine formula similar to the one I put together ten years ago that also includes DMAE and Acetyl-l-carnitine to help remove the lipofuscin produced in the body as a side effect of carnosine’s protective action. Over the years, I’ve tweaked and refined the ratios of the ingredients in the formula based on hands on results, but its essence has remained unchanged…because it works.
Great article Jon! I love
Great article Jon! I love your Ever Young product, I had no idea the carnosine did this much. Really good to know.
Great information! Do
Great information! Do you offer this product? Where can good quality products be found. What should one look for?
Thank you, Pam
Not too kind to tell us all
Not too kind to tell us all about this and all it can do for us without telling us where to get it. How about it?
If you go to our
Hi Pam, If you go to our products page, you can see the formulas Jon Barron recommends and the list of companies that sell them. You will also see an L-Carnosine product listed there. Hope that helps!
I want the name of your
I want the name of your formula – thanks!
See above. Are you
Hi Ann, See above. Are you asking about Ever Young?
Jon, are those comparison
Jon, are those comparison photos at the end of the article of you?
Nice article. Thanks
Wow, this is exciting! My
Wow, this is exciting! My only experience with l-carnosine has been in the eye drops that caused my cataract to shrink within 4 months. I fled to the ophthalmologist when I realized my left eye (the “good” eye!) was unable to resolve letters on a page at any distance. To my relief, he told me that I had developed a cataract. To my dismay, he told me that the simple surgery might stir up the gob of floaters from the detached vitreous humor of the previous year. [I had them in both eyes. The gobs were so large I couldn’t see to drive. And there is no public transportation here in Shangri La.]
The eye drops (contrary to the ophthalmologist’s knowledge — and we’re talking summa cum laude from Mt. Sinai, here) were so effective that my eyesight improved to 20/20 corrected. His turn to be dismayed!
I began using the eyedrops in my 17-year-old dog’s cataracts. He improved from running into the wall to scampering down the hall when he comes in from his sojourns. Apparently his lumbering around had more to do with his impaired vision than with his old joints!
As always, you are an exhilarating font of transformative information. Thank you all so much.
"my people perish for a lack
“my people perish for a lack of knowledge”
We get plenty here (knowledge/info) – Hallelujah and thanks Jon.
Great article Jon! I've been
Great article Jon! I’ve been looking for an anti-aging supp that won’t interact with the pain meds I take (tramadol APAP/Cymbalta/Tylenol/Ativan). Since the doctors I go to aren’t alternative practitioners they wouldn’t really know. Golden Question: is Carnosine safe to take with my meds/meds in general? Thanks so much!
The answer is that “in
The answer is that “in general” it’s safe. Remember, you naturally have carnosine in your body – concentrated in your muscles and brain, but levels diminish as you age. You also get carnosine in many of the foods you eat – just not enough to make a difference.
Many good articles and always
Many good articles and always well written and researched. My thought for Jon is that you may find this Peter Pan effect in your Sidereal natal chart. You were destined, by whatever means.
Interesting results from the
Interesting results from the L-Carnosine drops. I have been using the Ever Young. What are the L-Carnosine drops that were so effective with the cataracts? Does it matter if you are using the Ever Young formula and then supplement withdrops for eyes? What should I look for if purchasing drops and are they available thu Baseline? Thanks
Thank you Jon for the updated
Thank you Jon for the updated article on Carnosine, you never cease to amaze us.
You 65? Surely you jest…
Can I get away with
Can I get away with taking carnosine together with warfarin on which I’ve been steady at 2 mg daily for years (for atrial fibrillation)?
We responded to a
Hi Janie, We responded to a similar question on this above. It said, “The answer is that “in general” it’s safe. Remember, you naturally have carnosine in your body – concentrated in your muscles and brain, but levels diminish as you age. You also get carnosine in many of the foods you eat – just not enough to make a difference.”
Since the lens of the eye is
Since the lens of the eye is not fed by a circulatory system, it’s hard for carnosine taken internally to reach the lens at significant levels. Studies indicate it is likely cataract protective, but is unlikely to reverse existing cataracts. The drops, on the other hand, are made with N- acetyl-carnosine (NAC), a variant of L-carnosine, which is stable enough to be absorbed into the lens of the eye and directly address the cataract. Studies indicate that the drops can be very helpful for many, but not all people. Why the difference in outcomes for different people using NAC? Who knows. Perhaps it depends on what triggered the cataract.
Great article! What is your
Great article! What is your opinion of using beta alanine as a source to let the body produce more carnosine?
We answered that question
We answered that question here:
Yes, beta-alanine supplementation will raise carnosine levels – in muscle tissue. Symptoms of paresthesia, as you have already noticed, may be observed if a single dose higher than 800 mg is ingested. The symptoms, however, are transient and related to the increase in plasma concentration. They can be prevented by using controlled release capsules and smaller dosing strategies. The bigger problem is that unlike carnosine supplementation, supplementing with beta-alanine does not get significant levels of carnosine into your non-muscle tissue where most of its important benefits are achieved. You save money, but age faster. I’m not sure that’s a good trade. When you supplement with L-carnosine, it enters the bloodstream and reaches every single cell in your body.
[Quote:]"The drops, on the
[Quote:]”The drops, on the other hand, are made with N- acetyl-carnosine (NAC), a variant of L-carnosine, which is stable enough to be absorbed into the lens of the eye and directly address the cataract.”[end Quote]
I have heard of this (NAC) as being a very viable therapy, and so effective for most individuals that the BigPharma mafia lobbyists strongarmed the FDA into making these NAC eye drops prescription only, if not impossible to get now. Any truth to this strong rumour? I cannot find my original sources to substantiate the knee-jerk restrictions.
Hi Jon, Great information,
Hi Jon, Great information, thank you. I really just love this stuff (this kind of information I mean, can't comment on carnosine yet)! In order to overwhelm the carnosinase do you recommend taking 1000-1500mg of Carnosine all at once or 500mg two to three times a day? Be well, Rob
Thanks, we will let Jon know!
Thanks, we will let Jon know! Jon takes Ever Young, as directed on the label: “Take 1-2 capsules of Ever Young with or without food, three times daily.”
I take two capsules, three
I take two capsules, three times a day. And I take the last two at 7 PM at the latest. The Acetyl-l-carnitine in the formula can be a bit mentally stimulting if you take it too close to bedtime.
Baseline Nutritionals doesn't
Baseline Nutritionals doesn’t deliver to my country so I have to make do with something else. Thanks a lot for the fast responses!
I am currently taking
I am currently taking Resveratrol, fish oil, a multi vitamin, vitamin d, magnesium and a probiotic and am interested in trying Carnosine. I have been on Tamoxifen for 7 months following breast cancer. My question is can Carnosine in any way negate the effects of the tamoxifen and if it enhances cell division, could this occur in cancerous cells? Thank-you.
Considering, that the
Considering, that the newsletter says, “In addition, cancer researchers are starting to identify how carnosine’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities may not only play a chemoprotective role, but actually help protect against cancer itself. How? First, as just mentioned in the paragraph above, carnosine helps block DNA damage that can lead to transformation of healthy cells into malignant cells. In addition, it has demonstrated a significant ability to both inhibit tumor growth as well as the metastasis of existing cancers.” That would make it highly unlikely that carnosine promotes the growth of cancerous cells. And as far as cancer cells living longer, they are already immortal, so you can’t make them live any longer. In any case, check with your doctor about any potential conflicts.
Regarding L-carnosine, it
Regarding L-carnosine, it will help us to buy the product if we know the name of it. I believe it is “Ever Young”
I have been using EverYoung,
I have been using EverYoung, which contains carnosine, for three months now and am very happy with its main effect on me which is to wipe out post-exercise soreness. What a difference! I’m now happily exercising half an hour a day.
I’m worried, however, about taking anything long-term that hasn’t gone through clinical trials. Many pharmaceuticals that had a sound scientific basis looked very promising in early trials, then the side effects started to show up in post-marketing surveillance. If a severe side effect occurs in less than 5% of the population, as many do, anecdotal evidence would never pick this up – you need either trials with large cohorts or wide reporting.
Do you have an answer to this question? It really worries me.
Yes, there’s a simple answer.
Yes, there’s a simple answer. Carnosine is not a pharmaceutical. It is a naturally occurring dipeptide found in high concentrations in your muscles and brain. Supplemental L-carnosine merely replaces the carnosine used up when you exercise, not to mention the fact that it counters the effects of aging, which cause levels to decline significantly over time.
I have been wanting to take
I have been wanting to take Carnosine supplements for a while, but keep coming across “warnings” about carnosimenia, such as here:
Is this something to worry about?
As even acknowledged on the
As even acknowledged on the site you referred to, all medical definitions of carnosinemia clearly state that it is an inherited genetic disorder – not an acquired disorder.
Saunders DICTIONARY & ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LABORATORY MEDICINE AND TECHNOLOGY, ed. J.L. Bennington, W.B. Saunders and Company, 1984, p.262 defines, “carnosinemia, an inherited condition, transmitted as an autosomal recessive trait, that is characterized by the presence of excessive amounts of carnosine in the blood and urine. Caused by genetic deficiency of the enzyme carnosinase (aminoacyl-histidine dipeptidase)…
Somehow, sites such as the one you visited have turned a genetic disorder into an acquired disorder and propose that it might be created by consuming carnosine.
If one were to follow that logic to its inevitable conclusion, we would soon confront tyrosinemia – the inherited disorder that prevents the body from breaking down proteins. Obviously, by virtue of the same logic, everyone should avoid consumption of all proteins to avoid coming down with tyrosinemia. Not a very healthy option, most likely.
The bottom line is that there is not one single bit of evidence that taking supplemental carnosine can cause carnosinemia. It’s merely a theory proposed by people looking to create controversy.
Thanks, you’ve pretty much
Thanks, you’ve pretty much confirmed what I concluded from most of the articles I read. There only seems to be one argument against your last statement, but even that is traced back to genetics; a study that showed that for people with a genetically-determined deficiency in plasma carnosinase activity, clearance of ingested l-carnosine from the blood plasma may be insufficient leading to carnosinemia. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22496410 Of course you’d have to be one of those people suffering from this deficiency, but how would you know?
Carnosinemia is classified as
Carnosinemia is classified as a VERY rare inherited metabolic disorder. And you’d already know if you had it because you would have previously had symptoms if you ate any foods high in carnosine such as meat…or breast milk for that matter.
I think what Diane means is
I think what Diane means is how do you know you have low plasma carnosinage activity, since that can lead to carnosinemia AFTER carnosine ingestion, as the title of the link says. I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask though, @ Diane, as this seems to be a study aimed at linking it to diabetic nephropathy and thus more in the area of medical experts.
My question for Baseline is about lipofuscin. I have been taking an L-Carnosine supplement for a few weeks now and read on your site that you recommend taking it along with DMAE and Acetyl- L-Carnitine. I am currently on antidepressants and have read it is not recommended to take DMAE while on those. Can I just take a 500mg Acetyl-L-Cartitine supplement to help “get rid of” the lipofuscin? Will it suffice on its own?
First, let’s put the
First, let’s put the carnosinemia question to bed once and for all. Carnosinemia is neither a partial condition nor a subtle condition. It is a condition caused by an INHERTIED defect in chromosome 18. You do not acquire it. It is an EXTREMELY rare condition, with only a handful of cases noted since it was first identified in the late 1960’s. You either have it or you don’t; you cannot acquire it by taking carnosine supplements as an adult. If you have it, you would know you had it before you were 7, as it presents severe neurological problems, including mental retardation early in life. Since both you and Diane are able to read this newsletter, you do not suffer from it. The bottom line is that anyone who suffered from the defect in chromosome 18 and suffered from carnosinemia would never be in position to even consider using carnosine supplements.
As for acetyl-l-carnitine, it is very helpful in preventing the formation of lipofuscin and somewhat effective at removing it once it is there. That said, the combination of DMAE and acetyl-l-carnitine is notably more effective than either one alone.
Ok, thank you. What would you
Ok, thank you. What would you recommend? To keep taking L-Carnosine along with acetyl -l-carnitine or stop the L-Carnosine altogether until I’m off the SSRI’s and can take it along with DMAE? In other words: is it more “harmful” to take L-Carnosine without the proper supplements to help flush out the lipofuscin or to not take L-Carnosine at all?
It’s not harmful to take
It’s not harmful to take Carnosine alone. It’s just better to take it with the other supplements. That’s why Jon packages them together in the formula that he sells through Baseline Nutritionals.
I read an article on another
I read an article on another site saying carnosine may cause carnosinemia os this possible? Can anyone give me feedback on this? thanks
It is not what you think. Read the previous comments before your post — we go into the discussion in detail. Hope that helps!
I am interested in this for
I am interested in this for the natural treatment hyperthyroidism & graves disease, an autoimmune disorder. Would like to hear back if anyone has had any success using L-Carnosine for this purpose.
If I start taking L-Carnosine
If I start taking L-Carnosine and I’m drug tested at work, will the test result be positive for drugs? Your response is much appreciated! Another question, is it o.k. to just buy the L-carnosine supplement by itself with no other compounds or is it more beneficial to buy it with the added compounds of DMAE and Acetyl? What damage will lipofuscin produced in the body by L-Carnosine have?
Well, if it shows up in a
Well, if it shows up in a drug test, you’ll need to stop eating meat since meat is a primary natural source.
As Jon indicated, the combination works better than carnosine by itself.
Lipofuscin is the age pigment commonly found in aging brains and in other tissue such as the skin. By itself, it is not dangerous. It is merely a byproduct of harmful reactions that have already taken place. For example, one of the byproducts of free radical damage and protein/aldehyde damage (both conditions that carnosine addresses) is lipofuscin.
When you supplement with carnosine, however, something different happens. The carnosine quickly binds with the aldehydes, preventing them from damaging the proteins. The byproduct of this reaction is lipofuscin. So once again you have inactive lipofuscin compounds, but this time as the result of PREVENTING protein damage. In a sense, with carnosine you trade protein damage for lipofuscin.
By itself, lipofuscin is not harmful. However, if enough of it accumulates over time (and this process is accelerated when you supplement with carnosine), it can interfere with proper cellular and organ functions. So the bottom line is that however it is produced (as a result of protein damage, or as the result of taking sacrificial carnosine to prevent protein damage), you want to get rid of it.
I am on Cumadin can I take
I am on Cumadin can I take the Carnosine to?
Check with your doctor, but
Check with your doctor, but there should be no interaction between carnosine and Coumadin.
I didn’t find any
I didn’t find any explanations of the potential effects of carnosene on cancer growth. To put it bluntly, causing the cells to divide for a much longer period, hipothetically indefinitely – what carnosene does – could also apply to cancer symptoms.
We answered this in a
We answered this in a previous comment (Aug 7th). I will repost it:
“Considering, that the newsletter says, ‘In addition, cancer researchers are starting to identify how carnosine’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities may not only play a chemoprotective role, but actually help protect against cancer itself. How? First, as just mentioned in the paragraph above, carnosine helps block DNA damage that can lead to transformation of healthy cells into malignant cells. In addition, it has demonstrated a significant ability to both inhibit tumor growth as well as the metastasis of existing cancers.’ That would make it highly unlikely that carnosine promotes the growth of cancerous cells. And as far as cancer cells living longer, they are already immortal, so you can’t make them live any longer. In any case, check with your doctor about any potential conflicts.”
I was introduced to l
I was introduced to l-carnosine today by one of my yoga friends! She was exclaiming or raving about this supplement that she has been taking for two years and i know personally that every time i see her sometime two to three times a month she looks younger to me…and so I said that explains why you look like a baby! her face was glowing and tight and no botox she said just hot yoga and l-carnosine. I went to the health food store and purchased my first bottle it has vitamin D added…I hope it works over the long haul , I turned 55 this fall and man can I feel it all over.
Great to hear Cheri! Note,
Great to hear Cheri! Note, if you want the best, look for a carnosine formula similar to the one Jon put together ten years ago that also includes DMAE and Acetyl-l-carnitine to help remove the lipofuscin produced in the body as a side effect of carnosine’s protective action.
Hi Jon, when you said a lot
Hi Jon, when you said a lot of the carnosine on sale was crap what exactly were you referring to?
High quality carnosine has a
High quality carnosine has a purity of better than 99%. When carnosine was first used as a supplement, only a handful of manufacturers reached that level of purity. Over the years, as the process for manufacturing carnosine has become more commonplace, more manufactures are hitting those numbers…or at least, claiming to. Obviously, the higher the purity, the more costly the raw ingredient.
I wonder if you can help. I’m 68 and still youthful looking I would like to keep the obvious effects of ageing at bay for as long as possible. Could you please advise me where I could buy the Carnosine product you use, and what the correct dosage is. Is it available in the UK?
Here you go: http://www
Here you go: http://www.baselinenutritionals.com/products/ever-young.php
Who sells this formula ?
Who sells this formula ?
Yes, it’s true.L-carnosine
Yes, it’s true.L-carnosine has many benfits for our health. If you can check the healthcare products, you can also find the carnosine.
Jon – Regarding your comments
Jon – Regarding your comments how you look younger than your siblings and they know it…. I was surprised when you later stated that they do not supplement with Carnosine? If you have had such great success using it, and selling it, why wouldn’t your siblings use it as well? Seems fishy to me.
I will answer for Jon since
I will answer for Jon since it is pretty simple. All of Jon’s siblings are Medical Doctors. Do I need to say more? He was the only one that went against family tradition by taking an alternative route. Regards, Sandy
I gave Carnosine 500mg, 3
I gave Carnosine 500mg, 3 times a day, together with other supplements (resveratrol, DMAE, Acetyl L-Carnitine, etc.) to my mother who is 69 years old, overweight type 2 diabetic with an implanted pacemaker. Carnosine is the only supplement I added to her regimen. After a day or two, I found that her oxygen saturation went from 94%-96% to steady 98% all day long. Wow I thought that is a good stuff. However, after about 3 months continuously using the same regimen a red spot started to appear on her right outside palm which continued to enlarge over the time course of the next week. We went to the dermatologist and he asked what medications she was taking that may cause an allergic reaction. I did not tell him the truth because I doubted he was familiar with Carnosine but I knew it was Carnosine it was causing this allergic reaction. She also got some red spots on her inside arm and belly. A few days after cutting down on Carnosine 500mg, 2 times a day her red skin irritation areas started to decrease, so I was certain that Carnosine was to blame, but her oxygen saturation started to decrease too. I have read about it that L-Histidine is used to synthesise Histamine and that Histamine Release might be responsible for this allergic reaction which does not happen until enough Carnosine has accumulated in the body, that is why the red spots started to appear on my mother’s skin after about 3 months. I am not sure that Carnosine causes Histamine release but I read it causes Histamine synthesis. She also takes curcumin and grape seed capsules which inhibit Histamine release but did not reduce the red area on her skin. I read that Histamine release is also caused by stress and exercise and my mother is also stressed and exercises two time a day.
I would like to ask you if this is a side effect of Carnosine, does Carnosine increase the synthesis of Histamine and Histamine release and if you know a remedy for that allergic reaction because I am certain Carnosine is very useful for her health conditions.
I will much appreciate your answer and advice.
Thank you Jon.
Carnosine is a dipeptide
Carnosine is a dipeptide formed from alanine and histidine. Although histamine is formed from histidine, they are not the same thing. Histidine is a metalloprotein that can bind and transport several metals, including copper and iron. It also increases calcium absorption. Surprisingly, it can actually reduce histamine levels and in turn controls diarrhea. Too much histidine will actually cause constipation. If your mother isn’t constipated, then she probably isn’t getting too much histidine. Keep in mind that every three ounces of lean meat contains about 333 mg of carnosine—but may contain over 1000 mg of histidine. Poultry is also high in histidine.
It sounds, though, like she is allergic to something. Some people are allergic to the most benign things. For example, some people are allergic to sunlight, and some people are allergic to water—no kidding. That means, that although there’s nothing inherent in the carnosine to cause an allergic reaction, it’s possible your mother is allergic to it.
I’m really interested in L-Carnosine but would there be any irreparable effects on fertility? I really hope to hear from you. Thanks!
Certainly hope not. Otherwise
Certainly hope not. Otherwise everyone is in trouble as carnosine is found in foods we eat and naturally occurring in the human body. The problem is that levels drop as we age. Coincidentally fertility drops as we age—and carnosine levels drop.
Thank you so much for the
Thank you so much for the response! And is carnosine contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation?
Jon Barron recommends
Jon Barron recommends limiting supplements to the essentials while pregnant or lactating. http://jonbarron.org/article/supplements-preconception. That said, if carnosine were a problem, than eating meat while pregnant or lactating would be a problem since carnosine levels are high in meat.
Before buying your whole
Before buying your whole formula I tried the 3 ingredients separately in order to get clues beforehand. I took Acetyl-Carnosine for the trial. For my wife it was excellent, but for me fatal: got nearly total indigestion/constipation even with a dose down to 125mg! Would L-Carnosine be better or some other related molecule??.
There is no such thing as
There is no such thing as acetyl-l-carnosine. We assume you mean acetyl-l-carnitine. (L-carnosine is entirely different) This is not a common side effect reported from the use of acetyl-l-carnitine. In fact, there are no reported examples in the FDA database. http://www.ehealthme.com/ds/acetyl%20l-carnitine%20hydrochloride/constipation/. But that said, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t have such a response. Two possibilities come to mind.
If you are looking for brain benefits, L-carnitine is not a substitute as it does not cross the blood-brain barrier. However, you can try taking it in the form of acetyl-l-carnitine arginate, which might not present the same allergic response in your body.
I have MCAS, and am supposed
I have MCAS, and am supposed to avoid carnosine. Can I take Acetyl L- Carnotine?
Thanks for your answer!