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Propionyl-L-carnitine is a type of amino acid, which is a component of proteins. Amino acids are naturally produced in the body; however, some people may also take supplements. Patients with erectile dysfunction (ED) and blood circulation problems may take propionyl-L-carnitine. A doctor may also administer this amino acid intravenously to treat heart disease, blood vessel disorders, and angina, or chest pain. Those with leg pain, or intermittent claudication, that is caused by peripheral vascular disease (PVD), or poor leg circulation may also benefit from this treatment.
Other medical conditions that propionyl-L-carnitine may be used for may include chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), congestive heart failure, and Peyronie's disease, as well as inadequate levels of testosterone. It is often prescribed along with medications. The supplement works by assisting the body in producing energy and possibly increasing blood circulation. This amino acid is essential in many processes in the body, including muscular movements and the proper functioning of the heart.
A patient's dosage of propionyl-L-carnitine will vary, depending on what condition is being treated. Those with Peyronie's disease may take 2 grams (g) daily and men who have abnormally low levels of testosterone may take the same amount daily, along with another amino acid called acetyl-L-carnitine. Patients with blood circulation problems, angina, or congestive heart failure may be prescribed 500 milligrams (mg) three times per day. Those with a blood vessel disorder may take between 500 to 1500 mg twice per day. Some people may use the oral form of this supplement, while others, such as those with blood vessel disorders, must receive the amino acid intravenously, or directly into a vein.
Some side effects may occur while using propionyl-L-carnitine; however, it is generally a safe supplement for many patients. Possible side effects may include a “fishy” odor that is noticeable in a person's sweat, urine, and breath. Stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting have also been reported, and occasionally, it may cause chest pain or weakness.
Before using propionyl-L-carnitine supplements or intravenous therapy, patients must disclose all other medications and supplements they take. This treatment may interact with other medicines, including blood thinners like warfarin and acenocoumarol. Those taking this supplement along with a blood thinner may be at an increased risk for unusual bruising or bleeding, and they may require an adjusted dosage.
Patients must also discuss their other medical conditions with their doctors. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this treatment. Those with a history of seizures may be at an increased risk for worsening or more frequent seizures. Propionyl-L-carnitine may also worsen hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid.