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What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

Other names: lipoic acid, thioctic acid, ALA

600mg IV Infusion $150

Alpha lipoic acid is a fatty acid found naturally inside every cell in the body. It's needed by the body to produce the energy for our body's normal functions. Alpha lipoic acid converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy.


Alpha lipoic acid is also an antioxidant, a substance that neutralizes potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals. What makes alpha lipoic acid unique is that it functions in water and fat, unlike the more common antioxidants vitamins C and E, and it appears to be able to recycle antioxidants such as vitamin C and glutathione after they have been used up. Glutathione is an important antioxidant that helps the body eliminate potentially harmful substances. Alpha lipoic acid increases the formation of glutathione.

 

Alpha lipoic acid is made by the body and can be found in very small amounts in foods such as spinach, broccoli, peas, Brewer's yeast, brussel sprouts, rice bran, and organ meats. Alpha lipoic acid supplements are available in capsule form at health food stores, some drugstores, and online.

Alpha Lipoic acid is a natural antioxidant that effectively neutralizes a variety of free radicals, including oxygen radicals and ionized metals.

Alpha Lipoic acid increases the tissue level of glutathione, which is the major intracellular antioxidant. Glutathione is reduced in a variety of diseases and with aging. Glutathione levels are also reduced during moderate to strenuous exercise.

Alpha Lipoic acid interacts synergistically with other antioxidants. It regenerates both Vitamin C and Vitamin E, and it helps to maintain the proper ratio of reduced to oxidized Coenzyme Q10 in the mitochondria.

Alpha Lipoic acid functions as a cofactor (coenzyme) in enzyme complexes responsible for glucose utilization and energy metabolism.

Alpha Lipoic acid is effective as an adjunct in the treatment of diabetes. It has been used widely for over 20 years in Germany to treat a wide array of pathologies, including those related to glucose intolerance. Alpha Lipoic acid protects the mitochondria. Mitochondria decay is associated with aging.

Alpha Lipoic acid holds promise as a safe and effective approach for the treatment of other pathologies associated with lowered antioxidant status and/or increased levels of oxidative stress.

 

Why People Use Alpha Lipoic Acid

 

Acute and Chronic Liver Damage

 

Triple Antioxidant Therapy (ALA, selenium, and silymarin) as well as biweekly treatments of high dose IV Vitamin C and Glutathione.

 

Four laboratory tests that really tell a doctor what is going on in the liver. The first is the platelet count. It is important because as liver inflammation and scarring progress, the platelet count goes down. So, the platelet count is a very helpful indirect indication of liver health, and a rise in platelet count is an indication of a healing liver.

I believe that the albumin level is the most important liver function test. A diseased liver can only produce a small amount of albumin. So a person with severe liver disease has a low albumin level, and as the liver improves, the albumin level rises.

The ALT is a liver enzyme that results from damage to the liver. It normally goes up and down from day to day, however, a downward trend may suggest an improvement of liver function. Interestingly enough, in cases of severe liver disease, the ALT is very low because most liver cells have been killed off.

The prothrombin time is a very important tool for measuring liver health, because a sick liver cannot produce much of the clotting factors, and thus the prothrombin time (a time it takes the blood to clot) is elongated in severe liver disease. As the liver regenerates, the prothrombin time shortens.

Peripheral Neuropathy


Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by injury, nutritional deficiencies, chemotherapy or by conditions such as diabetes, Lyme disease, alcoholism, shingles, thyroid disease, and kidney failure. Symptoms can include pain, burning, numbness, tingling, weakness, and itching.

 

Alpha lipoic acid is thought to work as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue, enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage.

 

Preliminary studies suggest that alpha lipoic acid may help. In one of the largest studies on the use of alpha lipoic acid, 181 people took 600 mg, 1200 mg or 1800 mg of alpha lipoic acid a day or a placebo.

 

After 5 weeks, alpha lipoic acid improved symptoms. The dose that was best tolerated while still providing benefit was 600 mg once daily.

 

Brain Function


Alpha lipoic acid can cross the blood-brain barrier, a wall of tiny vessels and structural cells, and pass easily into the brain. It is thought to protect brain and nerve tissue by preventing free radical damage.

 

Age-Related Conditions

 

As an antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid can neutralize free radicals which can damage cells. Free radical damage is thought to contribute to aging and chronic illness.

 

Other Conditions

 

Alpha lipoic acid has also been suggested for cataracts, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, burning mouth syndrome, Alzheimer's disease and stroke, but large, well-designed studies are needed to see if it's effective for these conditions.

 

Side Effects

 

Side effects of alpha lipoic acid may include headache, tingling or a "pins and needles" sensation, skin rash, or muscle cramps.
There have been a few reports in Japan of a rare condition called insulin autoimmune syndrome in people using alpha lipoic acid. The condition causes hypoglycemia and antibodies directed against the body's own insulin without previous insulin therapy.

 

The safety of alpha lipoic acid in pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with kidney or liver disease is unknown.

 

Possible Drug Interactions

 

Alpha lipoic acid may improve blood sugar control, so people with diabetes who are taking medication to lower blood sugar, such as metformin (Glucophage), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase), should only take alpha lipoic acid under the supervision of a qualified health professional and have their blood sugar levels carefully monitored.

 

Animal studies indicate that alpha lipoic acid may alter thyroid hormone levels, so it could theoretically have the same effect in humans. People taking thyroid medications such as levothyroxine should be monitored by their healthcare provider.

Sources:

Holmquist L, Stuchbury G, Berbaum K, Muscat S, Young S, Hager K, Engel J, Münch G. Lipoic acid as a novel treatment for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 113.1 (2007): 154-164.

 

Takeuchi Y, Miyamoto T, Kakizawa T, Shigematsu S, Hashizume K. Insulin Autoimmune Syndrome possibly caused by alpha lipoic acid. Intern Med. 46.5 (2007): 237-239.

 

Ziegler D, Ametov A, Barinov A, Dyck PJ, Gurieva I, Low PA, Munzel U, Yakhno N, Raz I, Novosadova M, Maus J, Samigullin R. Oral treatment with alphAlpha lipoic acid improves symptomatic diabetic polyneuropathy: the SYDNEY 2 trial. Diabetes Care. 19.11 (2006): 2365-2370.