Table of Contents > Herbs & Supplements > Carnosine Print



Related terms

Related Terms
  • Alanine, anserine, beta-alanyl-L-histidine, Can-Cr®, carnivorous diets, carnosinase, carnosine, carnosine-related compounds, CBEX, chicken breast extract, histidine, homocarnosine, imidazole, L-carnosine, L-CAZ®, NAC, N-acetyl carnosine, N-alpha-acetyl carnosine, polaprezinc, zinc complex of L-carnosine, zinc-carnosine chelate.

  • Carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine), also called L-carnosine, was first discovered in 1900 by W. S. Gulewitsch. The structure of carnosine is made up of two amino acids, histidine and alanine. This molecule is found only in animal tissue, especially skeletal, heart muscle, nerve, and brain tissue. Most vegetarian diets may not provide enough carnosine, but whether this has a negative effect remains undetermined.
  • The exact biological role of carnosine is unclear. Individuals who have Down syndrome or who experience seizures have lower levels of carnosine. Therefore, carnosine is believed to help control brain activity.
  • Carnosine supplements are popular among bodybuilders and athletes, who hope to improve recovery from muscle fatigue. More recently, it has been used as an antiaging treatment. Carnosine has been called a "longevity nutrient" and the "antiaging and antioxidant dipeptide," based on findings showing that animals with higher levels of carnosine appear to live longer.
  • Carnosine is also used to prevent or treat diabetes complications, such as nerve disorders, cataracts, and kidney dysfunction. Clinical trials have shown benefits associated with carnosine supplementation in children with autism and eye disorders, including cataracts, corneal disease, and eyeball injury. However, evidence supporting the use of carnosine for any medical condition in humans is limited.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

Carnosine is thought to build up in a portion of the brain that has been linked with expression and behavior. This brain area is usually impaired in autistic individuals. Carnosine may help protect or activate this area of the brain, thus improving speech, social activity, and behavior in autistic children. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.


Carnosine eyedrop solutions may help protect areas around the lens of the eye. Also, carnosine eyedrop solutions may help treat cataracts in the elderly. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.


Carnosine may improve recovery from muscle fatigue by reducing the buildup of acid in muscles following high-intensity workouts. However, overall exercise performance may still not improve. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.


In Russia, carnosine eyedrops have been approved to treat eye disorders. However, further research is required before a conclusion can be made.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Age-related nerve damage, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), anti-aging, antioxidant, asthma, atherosclerosis, cardiac ischemia, chelating agent (heavy metals), diabetes, diabetic complications, digestive disorders, bacteria eradication, immune deficiency, inflammatory conditions, longevity, malignant tumors, migraine, neuropathy, sepsis, wound healing.


Adults (18 years and older)

  • Carnosine is commonly sold as a supplement in 500 milligram capsules.
  • For stomach ulcers, 150 milligrams of polaprezinc, a zinc-carnosine combination, have been taken daily.
  • For cataracts, two carnosine eyedrops have been used twice daily for two years.
  • For eye disorders, carnosine eyedrops have been used to treat eye diseases and eyeball injuries.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • According to evidence that has not been confirmed, 100-200 milligrams of carnosine, taken by mouth before breakfast and lunch for several weeks, is considered to be safe for children. In children with brain disorders or injuries, 200-3,000 milligrams of carnosine daily has been used.
  • For children with autism, 800 milligrams of carnosine powder mixed with either food or drink has been used daily for eight weeks. A dose of 400 milligrams of carnosine in combination with 50 international units of vitamin E and five milligrams of zinc twice daily has also been used.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • An allergy or sensitivity to carnosine is considered unlikely.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Reports of adverse effects associated with carnosine are limited.
  • Use cautiously in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to a lack of safety information.
  • Use cautiously in children with autism, as carnosine may cause hyperactivity.
  • Use cautiously in individuals taking blood pressure-lowering agents, as carnosine may also cause low blood pressure.
  • Use cautiously in individuals taking agents that affect the immune system, as carnosine may affect the immune system.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Carnosine is not suggested in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Carnosine may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
  • Carnosine may also interact with anticancer agents, anti-inflammatory agents, and agents that affect the immune system.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Carnosine may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Carnosine may also interact with anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antioxidants, herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, and zinc.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

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Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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