What is creatine?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid which facilitates the recycling of energy in brain tissues and muscles in the body. Additionally, it increases the volume of muscles via water retention, provides energy to them and increases strength. Creatine synthesis occurs almost exclusively in the liver and kidneys.
How to obtain creatine?
Creatine is found in red meats and seafood and therefore can be obtained via diet, however, supplement use is encouraged for those who lack creatine as dietary creatine levels are generally low.
Creatine for muscle disorders associated with neuropathy
Creatine has been used to treat peripheral neuropathy for the following two instances:
Increasing muscle strength in muscular dystrophies
Analysis has demonstrated that creatine can increase muscle strength in dystrophies and potentially improve functional performance. This happens because creatine is indirectly involved in building muscle. To elaborate, creatine phosphate is a molecule in the muscle tissues. This molecule replenishes ATP which is the energy currency used by muscle tissue. The more that ATP is replenished, the more energy the muscle has which in turn allows the muscle to be used more which results in building and strengthening of that muscle. So, creatine supplements increase the amount of creatine phosphate which in turn gives the muscles more energy to work with.
Reducing amount of methyl drainage
Neuropathic symptoms such as lack of motor coordination and paralysis are often the cause of a loss of myelin. Myelin in the fatty sheath that insulates neurons (nerve cells) and allows them to communicate with one another. The myelination of neurons makes communication between the brain and appendages a quicker and easier process. Problems arise when holes begin to form in this myelin sheath, such as the case in Multiple Sclerosis. This is when we begin to see problems in motor coordination. This demyelination can occur when methyl reserves in the body are depleted. When the body synthesises creatine, it drains the bodies methyl stores, therefore, creatine supplementation can help to reduce drainage of these methyl stores and keep neurons myelinated and movement coordinated.
Creatine supplements and usage information
There is a variety of different creatine supplements on the market but creatine monohydrate is the most well-studied and is the one generally recommended for this type of use. It is advised that someone taking creatine for peripheral neuropathy takes roughly 2-3grams a day. Creatine supplements can be taken daily for up to 3 years to increase creatine levels enough to improve movement disorders and problems.
Creatine may have side effects that are amplified by your condition. As always, it is recommended to speak with your physician prior to adding any supplements to your diet.
References “Creatine Background.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Nov. 2013, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/creatine/background/hrb-20059125.
Sabrina Martini is a student entering the 4th year of her Bachelors of Science, majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge.