Zinc and L-carnosine: "Oh What a Relief It Is!"

by Ken Halvorsrude

With the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life, the importance of maintaining a healthy stomach is just good common sense. Because it is the immune system's first line of defense, a compromised stomach lining could have a ripple effect across other parts of the body. Many things can impact the stomach's mucosal lining, including bacterial imbalances, poor metabolism of carbohydrates, too much aspirin, alcohol use, or just a spicy diet. The result may be general gastric discomfort, such as gastritis, heartburn, or even ulcers.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a critical component to a number of physiological processes in our bodies. Some of these functions include growth and metabolism of cells, healing of wounds, and maintenance of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. When zinc is complexed to L-carnosine, it dissociates in the stomach at a much slower rate. This prolonged presence in the stomach allows it to maintain its gastric healing effect over a longer period of time. Zinc/L-carnosine may also help maintain the bacterial balance of the stomach and GI tract. Studies suggest that the zinc/L-carnosine compound may have effects on certain strains of harmful bacteria, such as h. pylori, and, therefore, is able to help maintain a GI environment that is favorable to health. By supporting the bacterial balance in the stomach, it can also help maintain a healthy mucosal lining.

The Studies

A randomized, multi-center, placebo-controlled, double-blind study observed 299 patients suffering with symptoms of gastric discomfort. These patients were randomly allocated to receive either: 1) a zinc/L-carnosine complex or a placebo or 2) a control drug or its placebo for eight weeks. Improvement ratings for a range of symptoms were taken at various points during the trial and compared with pre-treatment data. Of the 258 who completed the trial, 136 were in the zinc/L-carnosine group. After eight weeks, 92% of the group were rated as "moderately improved" or better across the category of symptoms, including heartburn, tenderness, epigastric pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

In another eight-week study, 28 patients with gastric discomfort were given a zinc/L-carnosine compound and monitored. Improvement was rated on a scale of subjective and objective symptoms. After four weeks, 68.4% were considered to be "significantly improved." After eight weeks, the "significantly improved" rating was 68.8%. Over 60% of these patients remained in the "significantly improved" category well after the treatment was discontinued, suggesting a lasting effect of the zinc/L-carnosine compound beyond the time it is taken.

Zinc/L-carnosine has also been studied for its ability to prevent free-radical damage to gastric cells. In one such study, rat gastric cells were exposed to ethanol and hydrogen peroxide, two substances known to cause free-radical damage to living cells. Cells were bathed in hydrogen peroxide, ethanol, zinc/L-carnosine, or a combination of zinc/L-carnosine with either ethanol or hydrogen peroxide. While the cells bathed in ethanol and hydrogen peroxide solutions all exhibited signs of damage due to free-radical production, the cells that were bathed in zinc/L-carnosine were largely protected from those effects. The authors concluded that the zinc compound directly protected gastric mucosal cells from oxidant stress and alcohol-induced damage.

Additional Research

Additional research supports the gastro-protective effects of zinc/L-carnosine. In another rat study, stomach lesions were induced by administration of the chemical, monochloramine, a known pro-oxidant (producer of free radicals). One of the groups was fed the zinc/L-carnosine compound prior to being exposed to monochloramine. The researchers found that the size of the lesions in the group pre-treated with zinc/L-carnosine was significantly less than the size of the lesions in the control group. The authors concluded that the zinc compound exerted a beneficial protective effect against monochloramine-induced stomach lesions.

Many take aspirin for its beneficial effects, in spite of its well-known downside. A zinc/L-carnosine combination has been shown to slow the development of aspirin-induced stomach damage in rats. TNF-alpha is an inflammatory cytokine that is known to be released in response to gastric damage. The researchers measurably detected lower levels of TNF-alpha in rats given zinc/L-carnosine as compared to the control rats. These results suggest zinc/L-carnosine may protect gastric cells by occasionally reducing the levels of certain cytokines in minor inflammation of the stomach.

PepZin GI™, from Doctor's Best, is an exclusive, patented complex of zinc and L-carnosine that was first developed in Japan and has been in use since 1994. This special chelated form of the mineral, zinc, has a unique ability to exert its effects directly on the cells of the stomach lining. Its proprietary chelation process, in conjunction with confirmed beneficial results in published scientific research, make PepZin GI an excellent choice for supporting gastric health.

PepZin GI provides all of these remarkable stomach and digestive benefits. Clinical trials clearly demonstrate its ability to help prevent free-radical damage, support cell growth and metabolism, and maintain proper balance of bacteria in the stomach. Each vegetarian capsule of PepZin GI provides 8 mg of zinc, and 29.5 mg of L-carnosine. The suggested adult usage is one capsule two times daily, during or after meals. PepZin GI can help make the rollercoaster of life a much more enjoyable ride.