Maybe you have heard of carnosine (or maybe even mixed it up with L-carnitine at times) but most of us have no idea what it’s used for. While L-carnitine garners most of our attention, carnosine is quietly emerging as the new antioxidant powerhouse. There is exciting new research being conducted using L-carnosine in areas such as brain health, stroke recovery, anti-aging, cataract treatment, immune stimulation, athletic performance and many others.
A recent study showed that the carnosine content of chicken soup is responsible for the immune protection from our beloved comfort food. One of the reasons carnosine is not well known is because research results are still preliminary and little is known about how exactly carnosine works in the body to exert a positive effect in so many diseases. But it’s what we do know that has researchers excited. We do know that carnosine is a key antioxidant with a primary role of neutralizing damaging free radicals inside our cells. By comparison, vitamin C is another potent antioxidant but its role is outside the cell.
One of the most exciting applications of carnosine has been for eye health and the potential treatment of cataracts. Much of the research on this application has been conducted by Russian scientists, which has led to the approval of carnosine as a treatment for cataract patients in Russia.
L-carnosine reduces protein damage which is responsible for the formation of lens opacity or a cloudy lens (also known as cataracts). Furthermore, there is some evidence that carnosine has the ability to disassemble clumped proteins that make up existing cataracts. There have been a number of well-structured studies that have found that n-acetyl-l-carnosine (NAC) eye drops improved lens clarity and stopped the progression of cataracts. 90% of patients in the treated group had improved visual acuity, and 89% showed improved glare sensitivity. NAC drops have produced some impressive results. In as little as a few weeks people have reported having clearer vision and less glare during night driving. In a few case reports people have had such a dramatic improvement that they no longer needed cataract surgery. Ortho eyes from AOR is the only NAC eye drop formula available in Canada, and it should be considered in every case of cataracts due to its unique nature and targeted effect on eye health.
L-carnosine eyedrops have also been shown to aid tired eyes and improve clarity of vision. In an open study protocol, scientists gave Carnosine supplements to patients in late middle age who had varying degrees of visual impairment, but no symptomatic cataracts. Over the course of two to six months, the scientists observed that the use of topical Carnosine supplementation “appears to alleviate eye tiredness and … obviously improve eyesight, giving more clear vision.” Users found that topical Carnosine “could brighten and relax their eyes.” The improvements were statistically significant.