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Taurine supplementation confers benefit for cramps in patients with chronic liver disease

06 Sep 2018

Oral supplementation with taurine is safe and effective in the management of muscle cramps in patients with chronic liver disease, yielding significant reductions in the frequency, duration and intensity of cramps, according to a study.

A total of 49 chronic liver disease patients who had 3 muscle cramp episodes were randomized to receive either taurine supplementation or placebo for 4 weeks then crossed to the alternative arm. Taurine was introduced in a stepped fashion to minimize any potential gastrointestinal side effects: one 500-mg capsule twice daily for 2 weeks and two 500-mg capsules twice daily for the remaining 2 weeks.

Primary outcomes of frequency, duration and intensity of muscle cramps were recorded by the patients themselves. Biochemical parameters, such as serum taurine and methionine levels, were measured at each time point.

Only 30 patients (mean age 54.7 years; 70 percent male) completed the study. Oral taurine resulted in increased serum taurine levels (p<0.001). No adverse side effects associated with supplementation were recorded.

Supplementation dosing of 2 g/day for 2 weeks led to significant reductions in cramp frequency (seven cramp episodes; p=0.03), duration (89 minutes; p=0.03) and severity (1.4 units on a Likert scale; p<0.004) compared with placebo.

The present data suggest that taurine be considered as a safe and effective intervention in the management of muscle cramps in patients with chronic liver disease, researchers said. A daily supplementation dosing of 2 g/day can be safely prescribed to alleviate the painful muscle cramps experienced by patients with cirrhosis.

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