The use of creatine effectively was recently requested by one of my readers. Although not traditionally thought of in application to chronic pain, this article will suggest how to use creatine effectively in other ways than just bodybuilding.
Americans purchase over 4 million kilograms of creatine each year. It is principally used by bodybuilders who want to increase muscle mass and decrease fat weight. It has been believed to increase energy, increase muscle mass, decrease recovery time from workouts, and improve strength.
I have extensively reviewed the scientific literature in order to present to you how how to use creatine effectively. Only data that has been scientifically proven will be presented.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a substance produced in the body by your liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It comes from the chemical reconstruction of amino acids by these various organs. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins in the human body. It takes 2 or more amino acids to make a protein.
Proteins are involved in nearly every biochemical reaction in the human body. Typically, complex proteins called enzymes facilitate chemical reactions increasing chemical efficiency and decreasing the energy needed to power a reaction. The generation of heat is limited which provides a survival advantage.
Creatine helps restore power to the major energy molecule of the human body…Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). Nearly every physiologic process of the human body requires ATP. This is especially true for the proper function of the muscles in exercise.
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine exists in the body as free creatine (20%) and creatine phosphate (70%-CP). CP is an energy rich substance that donates a phosphate to ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate) generating ATP (the main supplier of energy in the human body).
CP is especially useful for muscular activity that is short and intense. This is activity that usually occurs in the first seconds of physical exertion.
A different mechanism for ATP generation occurs with more prolonged exercise. Hence its application for weightlifting and body building (generally characterized by short exertion periods with longer rest intervals).
What Are The Benefits Of Creatine Supplementation?
I have divided the benefits of creatine supplementation as follows:
Probably Effective For Use In:
*Athletic Performance: athletic activity that requires power for short durations seems to benefit the most from creatine supplementation (CS). Activities that require endurance have not been demonstrated to benefit from CS. People over the age of 60 years do not benefit from CS.
It makes sense that bodybuilders and power athletes would derive benefit given the mechanism of action of CS. The muscle enlargement observed may be more due to the water attracting effect of the intra-muscular creatine than the actual muscle cell enlargement.
More research is needed in this area. In any case, most athletes of the power class find CS increases strength, shortens recovery, and prolongs the time it takes to become fatigued. The studies available are difficult to interpret due to poor study design and lack of standardization of the groups studied.
*Creatine Deficiency Syndromes: there are a number of genetic disorders in which creatine is not utilized properly. These disorders are treated with CS.
*Skin Aging: creams that contain creatine have been shown to decrease the effect of aging on skin.
*Depression: taking creatine regularly may synergize with certain anti-depressants decreasing the symptoms of depression.
*Diabetes Mellitus: regular creatine supplementation (CS) reduces blood sugar in people with Diabetes.
*Muscular Atrophy From Casting: CS reduces the usual atrophy from wearing a cast.
*Osteoarthritis: CS along with muscle strengthening has been shown to improve the knee pain of people with Osteoarthritis of the knees.
*Parkinson’s disease: early CS slows the progression of Parkinson’s Disease. However, disease that has progressed with not benefit.
*Traumatic Brain Injury: children suffering from traumatic brain injury when given CS reduces amnesia, headache, dizziness, and fatigue.
Possibly Effective For Use In:
- Lung Disease
- Heart Failure
- Vision Loss due to retinal atrophy
- Muscle Cramps due to hemodialysis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Spinal Cord Injury: CS may improve muscle strength
Not Effective For Use In:
Inherited Nerve Damage, Huntington’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Schizophrenia, recovery from surgery, Bipolar Disorder, and high cholesterol.
What Is The Proper Dose?
There is some variation in the way and amount that CS is given. More is not necessarily better. The standard dosing schedule is a 5 day loading period of 20 gm per day to be followed with a daily dose of 10 gm. per day as directed above. There are also regimens that call for larger doses on work-out days and no supplementation on rest days.
What Are The Side-Effects Of Creatine Supplementation?
Despite the widespread use of CS there has been little reported in the way of toxic side effects. It would make sense that the major organs of effect (the liver, kidneys, and pancreas) could be effected if the dose exceeded the recommended amount.
I have reviewed the mechanism, effective uses, possible uses, and conditions where no benefit of CS has been demonstrated. Though not usually thought of as a pain relieving supplement, creaatine is useful as an adjunct to reduce pain.
It has been shown to reduce the pain of Osteoarthritis. The mechanisms for this may be connected with increase muscle strength and tone. This would decrease the joint laxity that occurs in Osteoarthritis decreasing the pain. The exact mechanism has yet to be worked out scientifically.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you have further questions please leave me comment. I would love to hear from you and will respond promptly.
Wishing you joy and healing,