It’s always so exciting to see clinical research dollars go towards something that may actually save people’s lives without causing harm or costing a fortune. And the study I want to share with you today is one of the best examples of this kind of worthwhile investigation I’ve seen in a while.
For starters, it deals with a condition I see in my practice a lot — polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
As the name suggests, PCOS is typically marked by small, non-cancerous ovarian cysts. And it can result in a long list of unpleasant (and ultimately, dangerous) symptoms: weight gain, hormone imbalances, irregular and painful menstruation, infertility, acne, and facial hair, to name a few.
The trouble is, a lot of gynecologists never even suspect PCOS as a culprit behind these problems. Which means a lot of women are struggling with symptoms without an answer. They’re not getting the treatment they need. And they’re facing a higher risk of heart problems and diabetes because of it — even once they’re well past their childbearing years.
This is an important distinction because many people mistakenly assume PCOS is only a problem for younger women.
But in my experience, any overweight woman who struggles to shed excess pounds despite following a healthy diet is a potential PCOS patient until proven otherwise. That’s how often I encounter this problem.
The good thing, of course, is that there are safe ways to manage it. Including medications, like glucophage (a common diabetes drugs) and spironalactone (a diuretic) — both of which can help tackle excess weight and painful periods. (And yes, they are pharmaceuticals. But as I’ve said before, I’m not opposed to prescribing drugs when they’re warranted — and when they’re safe. And this is one instance where that’s certainly the case.)
But what really makes me happy about this new study is that it offers a safe and effective solution that doesn’t require drugs. And, in fact, it focuses on a supplement I recommend regularly already — carnitine.
So let’s get right to the details. This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 60 overweight PCOS patients. Half were assigned 250 mg of carnitine for 12 weeks. The other half took a placebo. Researchers took body measurements before and after the study period, along with blood samples to assess for changes in glucose balance.
And at the end of the 12 weeks, the carnitine group had significant drops in weight, BMI, and waist and hip measurements — which would be impressive by itself. But carnitine also lowered fasting blood sugar and insulin levels significantly compared with placebo.
Of course, these results just echo my own experience with carnitine. I’ve long been recommending this amino acid as a weight loss aid. And previous research had already hinted at its ability to boost both fatty acid and sugar metabolism, as well as insulin function. And other studies have reported that women with PCOS have much lower levels of this critical amino acid. So when you connect all of those dots, the results of this new study make a lot of sense.
Of course, this latest research is a little different — and even more exciting, really — due to the fact that the researchers used a relatively small dose of 275 mg carnitine capsules. (I often recommend doses nearly four times as high.)
It’s also worth noting that the patients in this study were specifically told not to change their diet or exercise habits over the course of those 12 weeks — or to take any medications that could alter their weight or metabolic status.
So imagine the sort of supercharged results they might have seen if there had been a third group…One that was given carnitine and instructed to make a few simple lifestyle changes, like eliminating sugar and exercising regularly.
Still, this latest study could be a real game-changer for women struggling with PCOS. But in my opinion, anyone struggling with obesity or blood sugar control can benefit from carnitine. In fact, one study showed that intravenous infusions with 4 grams of carnitine daily for a week can help patients with metabolic syndrome lose weight, curb their hunger, and normalize their cholesterol profiles.
While I’ve known about all of these benefits for years, I do have to say, it’s nice to see science backing up a strategy that I’ve had so much success with in my own practice.
I really am blown away by all the research coming out about amino acids lately. In fact, the science is so impressive, I’ve based a whole new weight loss program around them. I’ll be sharing all the details in a brand new book that will be coming out next year. So stay tuned for more on that in the months to come!