(HealthDay News) — L-carnitine appears to be safe and effective for reducing muscle cramps in patients with cirrhosis, according to a study published in the August issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Hiroyuki Nakanishi, from the Musashino Red Cross Hospital in Tokyo, and colleagues prospectively evaluated the ability of L-carnitine (dosed at 300mg either three times/day [19 participants] or four times/day [23 participants] for eight weeks) to reduce muscle cramps in patients with cirrhosis.

The researchers found that muscle cramping was reduced in 88.1% of all participants at the end of the study period and disappeared for 28.6% of patients. Overall, the degree of muscle cramping assessed with the visual analogue scale decreased significantly from baseline (P<0.0001). A higher dose of L-carnitine was significantly associated with a greater percentage of patients with reduced muscle cramps after eight weeks (43.5% in the 1,200mg/day group vs. 10.5% in the 900mg/day group; P=0.037). No adverse events were reported.

“The administration of L-carnitine may be a promising treatment for cirrhosis patients with painful muscle cramps,” the authors write.

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