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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Creatine Usage

Written by FoundHealth.


Effect of Creatine on Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that plays an important role in the production of energy in the body. The body converts it to phosphocreatine, a form of stored energy used by muscles. The...

Read more about Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Creatine.

Therapeutic Uses

Creatine is one of the best-selling and best documented supplements for enhancing athletic performance , but the scientific evidence that it works is far from complete. The best evidence we have points to potential benefits in forms of exercise that require repeated short-term bursts of high-intensity exercise; this has been seen more in artificial laboratory studies, though, rather than in studies involving athletes carrying out normal sports. 1 It might also be helpful for resistance exercise (weight training), although not all studies have found benefit. 2 Creatine has also been proposed as an aid to promote weight loss and to reduce the proportion of fat to muscle in the body, but there is little evidence that it is effective for this purpose. 3 Preliminary evidence suggests that creatine supplements may be able to reduce levels of triglycerides in the blood. 4 (Triglycerides are fats related to cholesterol that also increase risk of heart disease when elevated in the body.)

Creatine supplements might also help counter the loss of muscle strength that occurs when a limb is immobilized, such as following injury or surgery ; 5 however, not all results have been positive. 6 Studies, including small, double-blind trials, inconsistently suggest that creatine might be helpful for reducing fatigue and increasing strength in various illnesses where muscle weakness occurs, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) , congestive heart failure , dermatomyositis, Huntington's disease, McArdle's disease, mitochondrial illnesses, muscular dystrophy, and myotonic dystrophy. 7 One study claimed to find evidence that creatine supplements can reduce levels of blood sugar. 8 However, because dextrose (a form of sugar) was used as the “placebo” in this trial, the results are somewhat questionable.

Evidence from animal and open human trials suggested that creatine improved strength and slowed the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and for this reason, many people with ALS have tried it. 9 However, these hopes were dashed in 2003 when the results of a 10-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 175 people with ALS were announced. 10 Use of creatine at a dose of 10 g daily failed to provide any benefit at all in terms of symptoms or disease progression. Negative results were also seen in a subsequent, slightly smaller studies. 11 Creatine also does not appear to strengthen muscles in people with wrist weakness due to nerve injury. 12 Long-term use of corticosteroid drugs can slow a child’s growth. One animal study suggests that use of supplemental creatine may help prevent this side effect. 13 Creatine has also shown some promise for improving mental function , particularly after sleep deprivation. 14 However, in one small study, it showed no similar benefit in young adult subjects who were not sleep deprived. 15 One study failed to find creatine helpful for maintaining muscle mass during treatment for colon cancer . 16 Another study found little to no benefits in Parkinson's disease , 17 and another failed to find benefit in schizophrenia . 18


  1. Williams MH, Branch JD. Creatine supplementation and exercise performance: an update. J Am Coll Nutr. 17(3):216-34.
  2. Williams MH, Branch JD. Creatine supplementation and exercise performance: an update. J Am Coll Nutr. 17(3):216-34.
  3. Williams MH, Branch JD. Creatine supplementation and exercise performance: an update. J Am Coll Nutr. 17(3):216-34.
  4. Earnest CP, Almada AL, Mitchell TL. High-performance capillary electrophoresis-pure creatine monohydrate reduces blood lipids in men and women. Clin Sci (Colch). 1996;91:113-118.
  5. Op 't Eijnde B, Ursø B, Richter EA, Greenhaff PL, Hespel P. Effect of oral creatine supplementation on human muscle GLUT4 protein content after immobilization. Diabetes. 50(1):18-23.
  6. Roy BD, De Beer J, Harvey D, et al. Creatine monohydrate supplementation does not improve functional recovery after total knee arthroplasty. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005;86:1293-1298.
  7. Gordon A, Hultman E, Kaijser L, Kristjansson S, Rolf CJ, Nyquist O, Sylvén C. Creatine supplementation in chronic heart failure increases skeletal muscle creatine phosphate and muscle performance. Cardiovasc Res. 30(3):413-8.
  8. Gualano B, Novaes RB, Artioli GG, Freire TO, Coelho DF, Scagliusi FB, Rogeri PS, Roschel H, Ugrinowitsch C, Lancha AH Jr. Effects of creatine supplementation on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in sedentary healthy males undergoing aerobic training. Amino Acids. 34(2):245-50.
  9. Klivenyi P, Ferrante RJ, Matthews RT, Bogdanov MB, Klein AM, Andreassen OA, Mueller G, Wermer M, Kaddurah-Daouk R, Beal MF. Neuroprotective effects of creatine in a transgenic animal model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Nat Med. 5(3):347-50.
  10. Jan Groeneveld G, Veldink JH, Van Der Tweel I, et al. A randomized sequential trial of creatine in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Ann Neurol. 2003;53:437-445.
  11. Shefner JM, Cudkowicz ME, Schoenfeld D, Conrad T, Taft J, Chilton M, Urbinelli L, Qureshi M, Zhang H, Pestronk A, Caress J, Donofrio P, Sorenson E, Bradley W, Lomen-Hoerth C, Pioro E, Rezania K, Ross M, Pascuzzi R, Heiman-Patterson T, Tandan R, Mitsumoto H, Rothstein J, Smith-Palmer T, MacDonald D, Burke D, NEALS Consortium. A clinical trial of creatine in ALS. Neurology. 63(9):1656-61.
  12. Kendall RW, Jacquemin G, Frost R, Burns SP. Creatine supplementation for weak muscles in persons with chronic tetraplegia: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trial. J Spinal Cord Med. 28(3):208-13.
  13. Roy BD, Bourgeois JM, Mahoney DJ, Tarnopolsky MA. Dietary supplementation with creatine monohydrate prevents corticosteroid-induced attenuation of growth in young rats. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 80(10):1008-14.
  14. McMorris T, Harris RC, Swain J, Corbett J, Collard K, Dyson RJ, Dye L, Hodgson C, Draper N. Effect of creatine supplementation and sleep deprivation, with mild exercise, on cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood state, and plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 185(1):93-103.
  15. Rawson ES, Lieberman HR, Walsh TM, et al. Creatine supplementation does not improve cognitive function in young adults. Physiol Behav. 2008 May 15.
  16. Norman K, Stübler D, Baier P, Schütz T, Ocran K, Holm E, Lochs H, Pirlich M. Effects of creatine supplementation on nutritional status, muscle function and quality of life in patients with colorectal cancer--a double blind randomised controlled trial. Clin Nutr. 25(4):596-605.
  17. Bender A, Koch W, Elstner M, Schombacher Y, Bender J, Moeschl M, Gekeler F, Müller-Myhsok B, Gasser T, Tatsch K, Klopstock T. Creatine supplementation in Parkinson disease: a placebo-controlled randomized pilot trial. Neurology. 67(7):1262-4.
  18. Kaptsan A, Odessky A, Osher Y, Levine J. Lack of efficacy of 5 grams daily of creatine in schizophrenia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 68(6):881-4.

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