Written by Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS. Fifty children with moderate asthma given 1050 mg L-carnitine for six months had a 71% decrease in hospital visits compared to the control group.

Childhood asthma has been called “a major public health problem” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Childhood asthma increased an average of 4.3% every year from 1980 to 1996.  It accounts for 14 million missed school days each year, is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among those younger than 15 years of age, and costs society $3.2 billion each year (1).

Now a new study (2) suggests that L-Carnitine, shown to benefit exercise recovery (3), may also benefit lung health in children.  In the study, 50 children diagnosed with moderate asthma (as defined the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) (6) were given either 1,050 mg of L-Carnitine (given as 3 350-mg capsules each morning) or placebo each day for 6 months.

Before and after the study, all children provided blood samples and their asthma was assessed via the Childhood Asthma Control Test (7).  With test scoring between 0 and 27, a score of 19 or less indicated that the asthma may not be well controlled.  The children also completed a lung function test with a spirometer to measure lung capacity.

By the end of the study, the results were:

L-Carnitine Group Placebo Group
Emergency room visits 52% decrease:3.1-5.1 visits 24% decrease: 3.4-2.6
Total Hospital Admissions 71% decrease:1.50-0.44 visits No change
Intake of oral steroids 45% decrease:2.16-1.2 doses 24% decrease: 2.12-1.6
Levels of inflammatory protein-IgE 23% decrease:328-253 kU/L 10% 322-290 kU/L


For the researchers, “From our best knowledge, this study was the first to investigate the benefit of L-Carnitine supplementation in asthmatic children. In the current study, [lung function was] significantly improved in the asthmatic children who received L-Carnitine supplementation than in those who did not.”

Source: Al-Biltagi, Mohammed, et al. “L-Carnitine improves the asthma control in children with moderate persistent asthma.” Journal of allergy 2012 (2011).

© 2012 Mohammed Al-Biltagi et al. Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

Click here to read the full text study.

Posted April 4, 2012.


  1. “Asthma’s Impact On Children and Adolescents” posted on the CDC website
  2. A.  L-Carnitine Improves the Asthma Control in Children with Moderate Persistent Asthma.  Jou Allergy 2012; 2012; 2012: 509730.  Published online 2011 November 23. doi: 10.1155/2012/509730.
  3. Ho JY. L-Carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favorably affects biochemical markers of recovery from physical exertion in middle-age men and women. Metabolism 2010;59:1190–1199.
  4.  Galloway SDR. Effects of oral L-carnitine supplementation on insulin sensitivity indices in response to glucose feeding in lean and overweight/obese males. Amino Acids 2011; 41: 507-515.
  5. Malaguarnera L. L -Carnitine Supplementation to Diet: A New Tool in Treatment of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis — A Randomized and Controlled Clinical Trial. Amer Jou Gastroenterology 2010;105(6):1338-45.
  6. National Institute of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Asthma Education, and Prevention Program, “Expert panel report 3: guidlines for diagnosis and management of asthma,” Washington, DC, USA, NIH, 2007.
  7. A. H. Liu, R. Zeiger, C. Sorkness et al., “Development and cross-sectional validation of the childhood asthma control test,” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vol. 119, no. 4, pp. 817–825, 2007.