Clinical Scenarios Where Creatine is Being Tested
2. Neurodegenerative Disorders
Creatine Combats Many Neurodegenertive Disorders
Creatine Enhances the Survival of Brain Cells in Response to Neurological Disoders
By far, creatine is best known for its ergogenic (muscle-enhancing) benefits. Ironically, creatine supplementation may provide an even greater service to society as a whole on the neurological level. In fact, the neurological deficits associated with inborn errors in creatine production and storage are typically more pronounced than the corresponding muscular symptoms, reflecting the importance of creatine to the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Unfortunately, dietary creatine supplementation only increases brain creatine levels one third as much as it does our muscular reserves. The reason for this discrepancy appears to be the blood brain barrier, which serves to protect the brain from foreign blood born toxins and pathogens. Hence, other strategies need to be developed to more effectively deliver creatine to the central nervous system of humans inflicted with those neurodegenerative disorders associated with creatine deficiencies.
Despite this apparent limitation, the latest scientific research is clearly showing that creatine is an extremely important neuroprotectant, an agent that increases the survival of nerve cells (neurons) to environmental insults. Many neurodegenerative disorders are associated with compromises in energy metabolism and the production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). In both these capacities creatine may help brain cells survival metabolic and physical trauma. Accordingly, creatine supplementation is currently being tested (quite successfully) in clinical and animal studies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, recent animal studies have demonstrated creatine to be effective treatment in greatly reducing the size of brain lesions in response to ischemia (a localized reduction in blood flow). In the future creatine may be used as a method to preserve brain function following acute stroke.
Genetic conditions giving rise to a decrease in creatine synthesis or transport in brain cells (neurons) results in severe mental retardation. In this respect, it is not surprising that creatine supplementation has been recently shown to aid in the performance of exhausting mental tasks such as, the ability to recollect a complicated series of digits. Creatine supplementation is becoming a smart practice!
Finally, creatine has also been recently shown to possess inherent antioxidant properties, which should also assist in the recovery of the brain from sudden insult.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) is currently planning a multi-center trial to test the effectiveness of creatine in humans with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Please give to the MDA and help support research investigating the neuroprotective consequences of creatine supplementation.
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