Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why L-carnosine for the T21 Population?

I started giving Jett 100 mg of l-carnosine to offset the high levels of copper that's prevalent in the DS population and since I was supplementing with zinc. But once I learned more about its neuroprotective qualities and what it does for the skin, eyes and muscles, I increased his dose to 400 mg a day. In this 6 weeks on 400 mg a day, I've definitely seen a huge leap in his expressive language (read more under the heading "Jett's Experience with L-Carnosine").


Here's a summary of the benefits of l-carnosine from

The scientific evidence indicates that carnosine could help to preserve the structural, functional and genetic integrity of the body in a natural way.
Some of the age-related conditions that carnosine may help to prevent (and treat) include:

    Neurological degeneration
    Cellular senescence (cell aging)
    Cross-linking of the eye lens
    Accumulation of damaged proteins
    Muscle atrophy
    Brain circulatory deficit
    Cross-linking of skin collagen
    LDL cholesterol oxidation
    DNA chromosome damage
    Formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs)

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Carnosine and Down Syndrome

According to Natural Standard Research Collaboration, "The exact biological role of carnosine is unclear. Individuals who have Down syndrome or who experience seizures have lower levels of carnosine. Therefore, carnosine is believed to help control brain activity."

Carnosine, taken at 500 mg a day, "has potentially positive neurological effects. Various studies have tested whether carnosine can assist in the treatment of several neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, autism, brain ischemia, Parkinson's disease, Down's syndrome and epilepsy. Carnosine may work by improving functionality and responsiveness in patients --- for example, by reducing cognitive deterioration associated with Down's syndrome...."

From Thiel R and Fowkes SW (2005). Can cognitive deterioration associated with Down syndrome be reduced? Med Hypotheses. 64: 524-32. Center for Natural Health Research, Down Syndrome-Epilepsy Foundation, 1248 E. Grand Avenue, Suite A, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420, USA.

"Individuals with Down syndrome have signs of possible brain damage prior to birth. In addition to slowed and reduced mental development, they are much more likely to have cognitive deterioration and develop dementia at an earlier age than individuals without Down syndrome. Some of the cognitive impairments are likely due to post-natal hydrogen peroxide-mediated oxidative stress caused by overexpression of the superoxide dismutase (SOD-1) gene, which is located on the triplicated 21st chromosome and known to be 50% overexpressed. However, some of this disability may also be due to early accumulation of advanced protein glycation end-products, which may play an adverse role in prenatal and postnatal brain development. This paper suggests that essential nutrients such as folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc, as well as alpha-lipoic acid and carnosine may possibly be partially preventive. Acetyl-l-carnitine, aminoguanidine, cysteine, and N-acetylcysteine are also discussed, but have possible safety concerns for this population. This paper hypothesizes that nutritional factors begun prenatally, in early infancy, or later may prevent or delay the onset of dementia in the Down syndrome population. Further examination of these data may provide insights into nutritional, metabolic and pharmacological treatments for dementias of many kinds...."


"Serum carnosine deficiency is a rare condition, which is not often clinically assessed. Symptoms of serum carnosine deficiency are similar to some often associated with DS such as mental retardation, absence seizures, and childhood dementia (59). Carnosine and related compounds (such as homocarnosine) have been found to have protective effects against hydrogen peroxide-mediated Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase fragmentation (60) and SOD-1mutants (61) which may cause problems for those with DS. Carnosine is also an antiglycation agent that may prevent or at least reduce this brain damage (62). A recent study concluded “that carnosine and such related compounds as Gly-His and Ala-His are effective anti-glycating agents for human Cu,Zn-SOD and that the effectiveness is based not only on high reactivity with carbonyl compounds but also on hydroxyl radical-scavenging activity” (63). Furthermore involving heat, carnosinylation tags glycated proteins for cell removal (64); it also appears to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be due to its anti-glycation abilities (65). Carnosine has even been proposed as a possible “anti-dementia drug” (66)."  

Robert Thiel, Ph.D., Naturopath
Presentation at the 8th Annual Scientific Program of the Orthomolecular Health-Medicine Society, March 1, 2002, San Francisco.

Carnosine is an efficient chelating agent for copper [81] which is of interest as many with DS have abnormally high copper levels [26,29,30]. Carnosine and related compounds such as homocarnosine have been found to have protective effects against hydrogen peroxide-mediated Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase fragmentation [82] and Cu,Zn-superoxide mutants [83]. Accelerated brain glycation (and the resulting brain damage) occurs early in the life of those with Down syndrome [84]and carnosine is also an antiglycation agent [85,86]. Since selenium rich yeast has been shown to have 123 times the antiglycation effect as sodium selenite for diabetics [87], it may be the preferred form to use when Down syndrome is present.


L-carnosine and Autism
Here is an article about l-carnosine & autistic children which includes dosing info:

"Over an eight-week period, Chez's study showed that carnosine improved behavior and communication by 16 percent. Social interaction improved by 27 percent and, in just four weeks, parents reported an overall improvement that more than doubled through the length of the study. More and more research shows that the frontal lobes and the temporal lobes in the brain control emotion, epileptic activity, cognitive, expressive speech, and abstract thinking. Chez said I-carnosine apparently works in the front part of the brain. So far, he said he's used it on about 1,000 children, with a 90 percent success rate. According to Dr. Chez, children in his study improved in receptive language, auditory processing, socialization, awareness of surroundings, fine motor planning and expressive language. Responses to supplementation were seen 1 to 8 weeks into supplementation."

Jett's Experience with L-carnosine

I used to give Jett 100mg a day of l-carnosine, but, about 6 weeks ago, I increased his dose to 400mg. He's 28 months and weighs 22 lbs (recently gained a pound and an inch!) I've definitely seen huge leaps in his expressive language during this time. When he woke from his nap yesterday, he talked nonstop practically for 20 minutes. He talks very quickly so I'm not able to catch what he's saying. I get bits and pieces. (He also reads this way, very fast and you have to really listen to catch what he's saying.) He was talking about monkeys, which we had seen at the zoo the day before. He talks about "Mary Poppins" a lot since this is his favorite movie. In this short amount of time with the dose increase, he's not only been asking for things "cup/drink/thirsty" and pointing to a cup or the cupboard or the refrigerator, but telling us what he wants to drink like "coconut/water/milk." He also says "stop it" when my husband sings a song he doesn't like. And we play a "stop and go game" where we copy him or do what he says and stop and go as he directs.  He has been singing a lot in the past couple of months and has memorized a lot of songs. Yesterday he sang the last part of itsy bitsy (The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout again) by himself! I think that's pretty darn good for a 28 month old!
At the park the other day, we were with two other moms and their typical 2 year olds. One is three or four weeks younger than Jett and the other was a little older. Neither child talked as much as Jett, but both children talked a little louder than Jett. The younger child's language showed a higher cognitive level than Jett. He'd say "excuse me" to get my attention and "dropped it" to let me know to pick something up for him. He used mostly two word sentences that were to the point and spoken clearly and apprpriately. Sometimes Jett just goes on and on and you don't really know what all his is saying to you (a family trait, unfortunately). The older child didn't speak much, but was much more social than Jett and initiated a lot of play and had great, expressive facial expressions so he communicated in a different way that was more physical, but effective.
I gave Jett 500 mg one time which may have caused him to skip his nap for the day. So, I may stick with 400 for a while or even go to 300mg since he does seem to be taking his nap later (usually at 2:15, but now it could be 3:30 to 5:30). So it may be harder for him to settle down? But maybe as long as he's getting his nap, he's fine. The other side effect I've seen is that he is much more emotional. Yes, he's two, so it could be that. But he has his own mind now and gets angry if we hand him a sweet potato chip, for instance, when he wanted an apple chip. And when he has to go potty, if we don't understand right away, he gets really mad and says blah blah blah "UP!" all red faced and hands slapping the table or floor. And when he hits his head or a child steps on his hand, he cries or shouts out or for a second or longer which he really didn't do before unless he hurt himself really badly.

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Leonor said...

My daughter also has T21, she's 28 months old but not expressing more than a half dozen words. I wanted to know how do you administer the L-Carnosine to Jett. Is it in the morning? Do you smash the capsule into juice or possibly apple sauce? Thanks for your feedback. :o) Leonor

Andi Durkin said...

Hey Leonor,
It needs to be taken on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning (since it is stimulating) and with juice or some other acid.
Be sure to check out the "How to get your baby to communicate" post for many more tips on supporting speech.
Good luck!

Unknown said...

When did you start giving it? My son is 11 months. And I see they are capsules. Does he swallow them?

Unknown said...

Hi, When did you start this with your son? Mine is 11 months. I see they are capsules. Does he swallow them?

Andi Durkin said...

Hey Carrie!
I started this with Jett at about maybe 25 months, but on a low dose, only 100 mg or so. It was when I increased it to 350-400 mg that I saw positive effects. Capsules, you'd have to open and put in your child's food. I have the 500mg capsules. I open it, fill the small end and then dumb the rest in his food. This is the dose that works best for him. Jett doesn't swallow pills yet--I haven't tried. Just start low and go slow and watch for any side effects (like hyperactivity, insomnia, skipping a nap, etc).

Aria said...

What brand do you use? Link not working to your Amazon store?

Aria said...

What brand?