Propionyl-L-Carnitine

View the Heart Disease Slideshow

What other names is Propionyl-l-carnitine known by?

Glycine Propionyl-L-Carnitine HCl, Glycine Propionyl-L-Carnitine Hydrochloride, L-carnitine Propionyl, LPC, PLC, Propionil-L-Carnitina, Propionylcarnitine.

What is Propionyl-l-carnitine?

Propionyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine are also amino acids, and they are chemically related to propionyl-L-carnitine. In fact, the body can convert L-carnitine to propionyl-L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine. But, no one knows whether the benefits of carnitines are interchangeable. Until more is known, don't substitute one form of carnitine for another.

Propionyl-L-carnitine is used for treating leg pain (intermittent claudication) due to poor blood circulation (peripheral vascular disease, PVD). PVD is often caused by diabetes or "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis). Propionyl-L-carnitine is also used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF).

Men with sexual performance problems (erectile dysfunction, ED) due to diabetes or poor circulation sometimes use propionyl-L-carnitine along with prescription medications. Older men who have symptoms of low testosterone levels sometimes use propionyl-L-carnitine in combination with acetyl-L-carnitine.

The propionyl-L-carnitine/acetyl-L-carnitine combination is also used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Healthcare providers give propionyl-L-carnitine intravenously (by IV) for treating PVD and intermittent claudication; to improve wound healing in people with PVD; and to treat heart disease, including congestive heart failure, and chest pain (angina).

Possibly Effective for...

  • Poor circulation (peripheral vascular disease) that causes leg pain while walking (intermittent claudication). Propionyl-L-carnitine taken by mouth or given by IV seems to help people with severe leg pain walk farther than they otherwise could. But propionyl-L-carnitine doesn't seem to help milder peripheral vascular disease.
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF). Taking propionyl-L-carnitine seems to improve heart function and exercise tolerance in people with mild to moderate congestive heart failure.
  • Treating symptoms of "male menopause," low levels of testosterone due to aging. Taking propionyl-L-carnitine by mouth in combination with acetyl-L-carnitine for six months seems to improve sexual performance, depression, and fatigue in older men. Taking this combination seems to work about as well as taking testosterone.
  • Sexual performance problems (erectile dysfunction, ED) in men with diabetes. Taking propionyl-L-carnitine along with sildenafil (Viagra) may work better than taking sildenafil alone.
  • An increase in fibrous tissue in the penis (Peyronie's disease). The combination of propionyl-L-carnitine and injection of a medication called verapamil seems to improve sexual performance, slow disease progression, and reduce the need for surgery.
  • Chest pain (angina).
  • A type of heart disease called chronic ischemic heart disease, when given by IV.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Developing research suggests that propionyl-L-carnitine might improve general fatigue in patients with CFS. Interestingly, the combination of propionyl-L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine appears to be less effective than either supplement alone.
  • Circulatory problems caused by diabetes.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of propionyl-L-carnitine for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Quick GuideHeart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes

How does Propionyl-l-carnitine work?

Propionyl-L-carnitine helps the body produce energy. It is important for heart function, muscle movement, and many other body processes. It also seems to help increase circulation.

Are there safety concerns?

Propionyl-L-carnitine is safe for most people when taken by mouth or given intravenously by a healthcare professional. It can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, weakness, and chest pain (angina). It can also cause a "fishy" odor of the urine, breath, and sweat.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of propionyl-L-carnitine during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

"Underactive thyroid" (hypothyroidism): There is a concern that propionyl-L-carnitine might make hypothyroidism worse or thyroid hormone treatment less effective. This is because a related chemical, L-carnitine, seems to interfere with thyroid hormone. If you have hypothyroidism, don't take propionyl-L-carnitine.

Seizures: Some people who have a history of seizures have reported an increase in the number and severity of seizures after taking L-carnitine by mouth or intravenously (by IV). There is a concern that this might also occur with propionyl-L-carnitine, because it is a similar chemical.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Acenocoumarol (Sintrom)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Acenocoumarol (Sintrom) is used to slow blood clotting. Propionyl-L-carnitine might increase the effects of acenocoumarol (Sintrom). Increasing the effects of acenocoumarol (Sintrom) might slow blood clotting too much and cause bruising and bleeding. The dose of your acenocoumarol (Sintrom) might need to be changed.



Warfarin (Coumadin)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Propionyl-L-carnitine might increase the effects of warfarin (Coumadin) and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

Dosing considerations for Propionyl-l-carnitine.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For disorders of the blood vessels: 500-1500 mg propionyl-L-carnitine twice daily.
  • For congestive heart failure and chest pain due to blood circulation problems (chronic angina): A dose of 500 mg of propionyl-L-carnitine three times daily.
  • For symptoms in older men caused by insufficient levels of testosterone: A dose of 2 grams of acetyl-L-carnitine plus 2 grams of propionyl-L-carnitine daily has been used.
  • For ED (erectile dysfunction): A daily dose of 2 grams of propionyl-L-carnitine has been used in combination with 50 mg of sildenafil (Viagra) given twice weekly.
  • For Peyronie's disease: 2 grams of propionyl-L-carnitine daily has been used in combination with injections of a medication called verapamil.
INTRAVENOUS:
  • For blood vessel disorders and heart disease: Healthcare providers give propionyl-L-carnitine intravenously (by IV).
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors