Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) has been used to improve liver health, treat diabetes-related nerve damage and help regulate blood sugar, prevent diabetic retinopathy (damage to the eyes done by diabetes). It also provides protection against oxidative processes involved in the degenerative diseases. In addition to being a powerful antioxidant and liver purifier, Alpha Lipoic Acid has shown promise in several areas of medicine.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: Most Powerful Antioxidant
Alpha lipoic acid is an extremely important antioxidant that destroys many of the free-radicals that are harmful to the human body (External Link: How it works). Lipoic acid is both water and fat soluble. This is beneficial in countering many different forms of oxidative stress and cellular damage in any part of a cell. Thereby, it can reduce the oxidative stress in the body while recycling the effectiveness of other antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and glutathione.
Vitamin C and glutathione can be regenerated through reaction with alpha lipoic acid.
Alpha Lipoic Acid and HIV
Alpha lipoic acid’s ability to raise glutathione significantly (30-70%) in people living with HIV has resulted in further HIV research. This is very important for liver repair since HIV induces glutathione deficiency.
Han D, Tritschler HJ, Packer L. “Alpha-lipoic acid increases intracellular glutathione in a human T-lymphocyte Jurkat cell line. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1995 Feb 6;207(1):258-64
Alpha lipoic acid has shown to inhibit replication of HIV in both acutely and chronically infected cells. In vitro, alpha lipoic acid has been show to have synergistic antiviral effect when combined with AZT. This combination showed a stronger inhibition of HIV replication than either had when used alone.
A. Baur A et al., Alpha lipoic acid is an effective inhibitor of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV-1) replication, Klin Wochenschr 69 (1991): 722-4.
One of the researches done at Kumamoto University in Japan has also shown that alpha lipoic acid significantly depress the HIV gene activity and HIV infectivity.
Alpha Lipoic Acid as a Wrinkle Cure
Lester Packer, Ph.D. of University of California, Berkeley, has researched and published several studies that prove the therapeutic benefits of alpha lipoic acid when administered orally to both animals and humans. Dr. Packer proved that the ALA does a great job of squashing the free radicals and thereby protecting the vitamins in the body. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, M.D. of Yale University School of Medicine and the author of the book ‘The Wrinkle Cure’ states that since “alpha lipoic acid is both fat and water soluble, it can work in each and every part of skin cells.”
According to Dr. Perricone, alpha lipoic acid helps with the elimination of damaged collagen resulting in erasing of wrinkles and facial scars. He also thinks that alpha lipoic acid prevents the sugar damage of protein that also prevents the premature aging and skin damage.
Alpha Lipoic Acid and Diabetes
People with diabetes are at greater risk for the development of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and blindness. Diabetes is one of the most common degenerative diseases in the United States. Clinicians and patients in Europe who have used a-Lipoic Acid have reported significant reductions in complications associated with diabetes, including neuropathy, and cataracts .
ALA has shown benefits in also found reversing diabetic neuropathy and in assisting the body ability to utilize glucose. There is evidence which suggests that ALA my help diabetics reduce their reliance on insulin.
Alpha Lipoic Acid and Heart Diseases
Oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by free radicals has been implicated in the formation of arterial cholesterol deposits which are associated with atherosclerosis. A study published in 1992 showed that Alpha Lipoic Acid recycles vitamin E by synergistically interacting with Vitamin C, thus protecting the body against the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins by free radical.
Lipoic acid has also been shown to reduce ischemia/reperfusion injury to the heart and brain.,
Extensive animal studies have demonstrated that oxidative stress may be a final common pathway in the development of damage to the nervous system caused by diabetes, also known as diabetic neuropathy. Antioxidants can also prevent or in some cases reverse hyperglycaemia-induced nerve dysfunction. ALA demonstrated positive results for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy in two major studies.
The first Alpha-Lipoic Acid in Diabetic Neuropathy (ALADIN) study evaluated three intravenous doses of ALA and involved 328 type 2 diabetics with neuropathy.
These patients were treated with 1,200 mg, 600 mg, or 100 mg of the antioxidant or a placebo for a period of three weeks. Improvements of 30% or more in symptom scores were seen in 71% of the 1,200-mg group, in 82% of the 600-mg group, in 65% of the 100-mg group, and in 58% of the placebo group. The second study, called the “ALADIN II Study,” analyzed results from the study of 65 patients receiving two oral dosages of alpha-lipoic acid (600 mg/day or 1,200 mg/day) or placebo over a 2-year period. Initially, patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Although the trial “was not sufficiently rigorous” to assess overall efficacy, the investigators did note evidence of clinically meaningful improvement in neuropathic function. In other clinical trials, Alpha Lipoic Acid and vitamin E were found to reduce neuropathic symptoms or to correct nerve conduction velocity.
Glaucoma and Alpha Lipoic Acid
Glaucoma is characterized by increased intraocular pressure (IOP) in some but not all cases. Some patients with glaucoma have normal IOP but poor circulation, resulting in damage to the optic nerve. Nutrients to increase glutathione levels and activity include lipoic acid, vitamins E and C, and selenium.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Alpha Lipoic Acid
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by persistent and relapsing fatigue, often accompanied by numerous symptoms involving various body systems. Little is known about the cause of this disease; however, recent studies have shown that there may be a connection between CFS and free radicals in the body. This would suggest the use of antioxidants in the management of CFS.
Clinicians in Canada concluded that ALA and other anti-oxidant supplements such as glutathione, N-acetylcysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, oligomeric proanthocyanidins, Ginkgo biloba, and Vaccinium myrtillus may be beneficial in the treatment of CFS.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Reduces Symptoms of Toxicity by tbe Doxorubicin
Doxorubicin is a powerful medication used alone or in combination with other drugs to treat cancer, including malignant lymphomas and leukemias. While this life-saving medication is an important part of cancer treatment, it has the unfortunate side effect of producing cardiotoxicity, a condition that is hazardous to the heart. The health of cancer patients may be negatively affected by the use of Doxorubicin.
A study involving patients who had been injected with Doxrubicin found that the oral administration of ALA for 5 days before and 2 days after injection reduced the risk of Doxrubicin-induced cardiotoxicity.
This was evident by significant reductions in serum creatine phosphokinase and lactate dehydrogenase. ALA also prevented the rise of malondialdehyde as well as the significant reduction of protein thiols. According to the clinicians who conducted the research, “These results may suggest that LA has a protective effect against cardiotoxicity induced by DOX and it may, therefore, improve the therapeutic index of DOX.”
Alpha Lipoic Acid as a Possible Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Scientists believe that oxidative injury may be associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). Mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an experimental model of MS, were given Alpha Lipoic Acid to treat. The mice showed a reduction of encephalomyelitis symptoms of between 23% – 100%, with minimal inflammation, demyelination and axonal loss in the spinal cords.
The scientists conducting the research concluded,
“ALA is highly effective at suppressing and treating EAE and does so by inhibiting T cell trafficking into the spinal cord, perhaps by acting as a matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor.”
While emphasizing that more research is required, researchers believe that ALA may have potential as a treatment for MS.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Helps Revive Lost Olfactory (loss of smell) Senses
The sense of smell is a common result of infections of the upper respiratory tract. Olfactory loss, while not as critical as a loss of sight or of hearing, is still a significant loss for those who can no longer smell, affecting taste, associated memories, and even crucial warnings from the environment, such as when we notice the smell of smoke.
Patients who had suffered a reduction or loss of olfactory senses were given oral doses of alpha-lipoic acid at a dose of 600 mg/day for an average period of 4.5 months. While 30% of these patients showed no change in olfactory function, an impressive 61% demonstrated moderate to significant increase in olfactory function.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Side Effects
Clinical studies have shown almost negligible side effects among those who have been given ALA supplements as directed. Higher doses can cause nausea and upset stomachs, and excessive doses can even lead to low blood sugar.
One positive side effect of taking ALA is a mild and relaxed feeling, also described as a sense of well-being, reported by some who have taken this supplement. (source)
At higher doses, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, like any other antioxidant, can reduce minerals from your body. In one study, iron in participants blood was shown to decrease significantly.
References & Credit
- Patrick L. “Mercury toxicity and antioxidants: Part 1: Role of glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of mercury toxicity.”
- Alternative Medicine Review, December 2002;7(6):456-71.
- Schonheit K et al. Biochimica Biophysica Acta 1995; 1271:335;Cao X and Phillis JW. Free Radical Research 1995; 23:365
- Walsh, N. “Alpha-Lipoic Acid for Diabetic Neuropathy.” Family Practice News. April 1, 2001.
- van Dam, P.S. “Oxidative stress and diabetic neuropathy: pathophysiological mechanisms and treatment perspectives.” Diabetes Metabolic Research Review. 2002 May-Jun;18(3):176-84.
- Head KA. “Natural therapies for ocular disorders, part two: cataracts and glaucoma.” Alternative Medical Review 2001 Apr;6(2):141-66
- Logan AC, Wong C. “Chronic fatigue syndrome: oxidative stress and dietary modifications.” Alternative Medicine Review Oct 2001;6(5):450-9
- Al-Majed, AA. Gado, AM, Al-Shabanah, OA, and Mansour, AM. “Alpha-lipoic Acid Ameliorates Myocardial Toxicity Induced by Doxorubicin.” Pharmacol Res December 2002 ;46(6):499-503
- Marracci GH, Jones RE, McKeon GP, Bourdette DN. “Alpha Lipoic Acid inhibits T cell migration into the spinal cord and suppresses and treats experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.” Journal of Neuroimmunololgy, October 2002;131(1-2):104-14
- Grushka, M. Epstein, J. and Gorsky, M. “Burning Mouth Syndrome.” American Family Physician. February 15, 2002 / Volume 65, Number 4
- Femiano F. Burning Mounth Syndrome (BMS): an open trial of comparative efficacy of alpha-lipoic acid (thioctic acid) with other therapies. Minerva Stomatol September 2002; 51(9):405-91
- Hummel T, Heilmann S, Huttenbriuk KB., “Lipoic acid in the treatment of smell dysfunction following viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.” Laryngoscope 2002 Nov;112(11):2076-80
- Jordan, K.G. “Staying Young Forever” Life Extension Magazine, December 1999
- Perricione, Nicholas, M.D. The Wrinkle Cure, Chapter 6 “Alpha Lipoic Acid” pp.71-72. Warner Books., 2000.
- Packer L, Witt EH, Tritschler HJ. “Alpha-Lipoic acid as a biological antioxidant.” Free Radic Biol Med 1995 Aug;19(2):227-50