Researchers from Italian L-carnitine manufacturer Sigma-Tau and Wayne State University in Detroit evaluated data from two randomized placebo-controlled trials carried out over a year on more than 1,200 diabetic patients in the US, Canada, and Europe.
The studies included tests on both 500mg and 1,000 mg doses of acetyl-L-carnitine daily.
Writing in the January issue of Diabetes Care (28:89-94), the researchers report that pain, 'the most bothersome symptom' of the condition, was significantly improved in one study and in the combined cohort taking the 1,000 mg dose.
Pain relief was greatest among those who had diabetes for the shortest time period, they noted, and these patients also showed improvements in nerve structure and perception of vibration.
Diabetes, and particularly type 2 diabetes, is rising fast around the world as a result of the increasing tendency towards overweight. The number of people in the UK with diabetes has surged to 1.8 million from 400,000 in just eight years, according to recent figures, with most of these -1.5 million - suffering from type 2 diabetes.
While longer studies are needed to examine the full effect of acetyl-L-carnitine on neuropathic pain, researchers suggest that it could also help delay progression of the condition or reduce its severity.