Alpha-Lipoic Acid

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Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that is prevalent in every cell throughout the body. This compound plays a key role in transforming glucose into the energy needed to perform day-to-day tasks. Antioxidants are important for your health because they help counter free radicals, harmful products in the body that can damage cells and can cause a variety of health issues, even potentially damaging organs and tissues in your body. Alpha-lipoic acid is a notable antioxidant because, unlike other antioxidants, it is able to work in both water and fat environments in the body. Alpha-lipoic acid is even thought to help reactivate other antioxidants that are depleted after fighting free radicals. Additionally, ALA is considered to be an anti-aging compound, and may also be effective in protecting the heart and liver and helping with sugar processing and brain function associated with aging.

Also known as:  A-Lipoic Acid, Acetate Replacing Factor, Acide Alpha-Lipoïque, Acide Alpha-Lipoïque R, Acide DL-Alpha-Lipoïque, Acide Lipoïque, Acide Thioctique, Acide 1, 2-dithiolane-3-pentanoïque, Acide 1, 2-dithiolane-3-valérique, Acide 5 Valérique (1, 2-dithiolan-3-yl), Acide 6, 8-dithiooctanoïque, Acide 6, 8-Thioctique, Acido Alfa Lipoico, ALA, Biletan, DHLA, Extrait d'acide Alpha-Lipoïque, Lipoic Acid, Lipoicin, R-ALA, R-Alpha-Lipoic Acid, (+-)-1, 2-Dithiolane-3-Pentanoic Acid, (R)-Dithiolane-3-Pentanoic Acid, R, S-Alpha Lipoic Acid, (R)-Lipoic Acid, R-Lipoic Acid, RS-Alpha-Lipoic Acid, S-Alpha-Lipoic Acid, S-Lipoic Acid, Thioctacid, Thioctan, Thioctic Acid

Diseases and Conditions

Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that has been found to help people with a variety of ailments. Conditions for which alpha-lipoic acid has been used include:

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Prediabetes
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Vitiligo
  • Weight Loss
  • Wound Healing
  • Alcohol-related Liver Disease
  • Altitude Sickness
  • Alzheimer's Disease 
  • Cardiac Autonomic Neuropathy
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • HIV-Related Dementia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Aging Skin
  • Amanita Mushroom Poisoning
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Dementia 
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart Failure
  • HIV
  • Hypertension
  • Migraine Headache
  • Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis
  • Radiation Exposure
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease
  • Sciatica 

Safety

Alpha-lipoic acid safe when used appropriately orally, topically, and intravenously. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid taking alpha-lipoic acid supplements due to the lack of research on its safety. Children may safely take alpha-lipoic acid as medicine under the supervision of a physician. Some individuals are prone to suffering from rashes when consuming alpha-lipoic acid orally. Although adverse effects are rare, effects may include vomiting, nausea, and vertigo especially when more than 600mg of alpha-lipoic acid is taken per dose. Individuals with diabetes should avoid taking alpha-lipoic acid as it may increase blood sugar levels. Those with thyroid problems should also avoid taking alpha-lipoic acid as it may interfere with treatments.

Medication Interactions

Alpha-lipoic acid can cause hypoglycemia when combined with antidiabetes drugs. Additionally, alpha-lipoic acid may decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy and should be avoided. This compound might decrease the effects of thyroid hormone drugs such as desiccated thyroid, levothyroxine, and liotrix.

Supplement and Food Interactions

The blood glucose effects of alpha-lipoic acid may possibly combine with the effects of other herbs and supplements that lower blood glucose levels, such as:

  • Devil's claw
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Guar gum
  • Horse chestnut
  • Panax ginseng
  • Psyllium
  • Siberian ginseng

Dosage

The dosage of alpha-lipoic acid depends on what it is being used for, and has been used as follows:

  • For general use, the recommended dosage is 50 milligrams once or twice daily.
  • For alcoholic liver disease, the recommended dosage is 300 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid taken in up to three divided doses daily for up to 24 weeks.
  • As an antioxidant, the recommended dosage is to take one of four doses of alpha-lipoic acid daily (300, 600, 900, and 1200 milligrams) for six months.
  • For bone density, the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid taken twice daily for twelve months.
  • For cognitive function (associated with HIV), the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid taken twice daily for ten weeks.
  • For patients with stage I and II open-angle glaucoma, the recommended dosage is 150 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid for one month.
  • For HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy, the recommended dosage is 300 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid taken three times daily for six months.
  • For hypertension, the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid daily for 8 weeks.
  • For improving blood flow (endothelial dysfunction), the recommended dosage is 600-1800 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid.
  • For inflammation, the recommended dosage is 300-600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid for up to three months.
  • For kidney disease, the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid daily for eight to twelve weeks.
  • For lipid-lowering effects, the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid daily for up to sixteen weeks.
  • For migraine headaches, the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid daily for three months.
  • For neuropathy, the recommended dosage is 600-1800 milligrams daily in divided doses for nineteen days to four years.
  • For pain caused by burning mouth syndrome, the recommended dosage is 200-800 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid taken daily for up to three months.
  • For peripheral artery disease, the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of lipoic acid daily in two divided doses on an empty stomach for three months.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis, the recommended dosage is 300 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid capsules taken three times daily for twelve weeks.
  • For sciatica, the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid daily for sixty days.
  • For steatohepatitis, the recommended dosage is 300 milligrams taken two to three times daily for one to two months.
  • For type II diabetes, the recommended dosage is 300-1800 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid daily in single or divided doses for up to two years.
  • For weight loss, the recommended dosage is 400-600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid three times daily thirty minutes before meals for twenty weeks.
  • For wound healing in patients undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the recommended dosage at the first hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) session is 300 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid taken one hour before oxygen exposure and one capsule immediately after the therapy. Then it’s recommended to take two capsules daily for up to thirty consecutive HBO treatments (one session daily).
  • For impaired glucose tolerance, the recommended dosage is 250 milliliters of saline solution containing 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid taken intravenously once daily for up to three weeks.
  • For improving blood flow (endothelial dysfunction), the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid in 250 milliliters of saline taken intravenously for up to three weeks.
  • For Ischemia-reperfusion injury protection, the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid in 50 milliliters of sodium chloride taken intravenously fifteen minutes before inflow occlusion of the liver.
  • For lipid-lowering effects, the recommended dosage is 600 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid taken intravenously in 200 milliliters of saline once daily for fourteen days.
  • For radiation injuries in children, the recommended dosage is 400 milligrams of alpha-lipoic acid daily for four weeks when exposed to areas contaminated with fifteen to forty Ci per kilogram2.

Foods

There are many different kinds of foods that contain alpha-lipoic acid. Foods with ALA include: 

  • Red meat (organ meat)
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Yams
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Beets 
  • Rice Bran
  • Brewer's Yeast

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References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-767-ALPHA-LIPOIC+ACID.aspx?activeIngredientId=767&activeIngredientName=ALPHA-LIPOIC+ACID&source=2
  2. https://examine.com/supplements/alpha-lipoic-acid/
  3. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/alphalipoic-acid
  4. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/references.aspx?productid=767

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