Alpha Lipoic Acid (also known as lipoic acid, thioctic acid, or ALA) is one of the good fatty acids produced in every one of our cells. One of its main functions is to help convert glucose (blood sugar) into energy. About forty years ago, biologists discovered that ALA is also an antioxidant--a powerful substance that combats potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals which may cause heart and liver disease, cancer, cell aging, and many other conditions. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a natural antioxidant, the substance that helps neutralize potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals in the body and protects cells from damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause oxidative damage by stealing electrons from surrounding molecules, thereby disrupting activity in the body's You do not have access to view this node.
Alpha-lipoic acid seems to also restore vitamin levels such as vitamin E and vitamin C. There is also evidence that alpha-lipoic acid can improve the function and conduction of neurons in diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid is used in the body to break down carbohydrates and to make energy for the other organs in the body. It is also found in a variety of foods, including organ meats, brewer’s yeast, potatoes, broccoli, and spinach. The primary action of alpha lipoic acid is to inhibit oxidative stress.
Antioxidants like vitamin C or fatty tissues such as vitamin E work only in water. But Alpha-lipoic acid is both fat- and water-soluble which means it can work throughout the body 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. In addition, antioxidants are depleted as they attack free radicals, but evidence suggests alpha-lipoic acid may help regenerate these other antioxidants and make them active again. In the cells of the body, alpha-lipoic acid is converted into dihydrolipoic acid.
The primary function of Alpha Lipoic Acid is to increase the body's production of glutathione, which helps dissolve toxic substances in the liver. Alpha Lipoic Acid helps cleanse the liver and has been associated with other healthful benefits.
It has also been associated with both the mitigation of heavy metal toxicity and the direct chelation of heavy metals, such as mercury. Mercury exposure is the second-most common cause of toxic metal poisoning. Chelation is the process of removing a heavy metal from the bloodstream by means of a chelate as in treating lead or mercury poisoning. A heterocyclic compound having a metal ion attached by coordinate bonds to at least two nonmetal ions known as chelate. Both dihydrolipoic acid and alpha lipoic acid also exhibit chelating properties.
In addition, alpha lipoic acid prevents glycosylation, which occurs from the abnormal attachment of a sugar to a protein.
Peripheral Neuropathy: Alpha-lipoic acid can reduce blood sugar levels, and its capacity to kill free radicals may help reduce pain, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness in people who have nerve damage caused by diabetes (called peripheral neuropathy). Peripheral Neuropathy can also be caused by injury, nutritional deficiencies, and chemotherapy or by conditions such as Lyme disease, alcoholism, shingles, thyroid disease, and kidney failure. Alpha-lipoic acid has been used for years for this purpose in Europe, and a research found that intravenous (IV) doses of alpha-lipoic acid helped reduce symptoms. Taking alpha-lipoic acid does appear to help another diabetes-related condition called autonomic neuropathy, which affects the nerves supplying the heart. One study found that 73 people with autonomic neuropathy improved when taking 800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid orally. A study revealed that the use of alpha lipoic acid by 181 people in 600 mg, 1200 mg or 1800 mg of alpha lipoic acid a day improved symptoms after 5 weeks. The dose that was best tolerated while still providing benefit was 600 mg once daily.
Liver Disease: Alpha-lipoic acid has been proposed as a treatment for alcohol-related liver disease, but so far there is no evidence that it works. Alpha lipoic acid has long been the standard treatment for poisoning from Amanita, a highly toxic mushroom which causes liver damage.
Brain Function and Stroke: Because alpha-lipoic acid can pass easily into the brain, it has protective effects on brain and nerve tissue. Scientists are examining it as a potential treatment for stroke and other brain disorders involving free radical damage. Animals treated with alpha-lipoic acid, for example, suffered less brain damage and had a four times greater survival rate after a stroke than animals who did not receive this supplement. More research is needed to understand whether this benefit applies to people as well.
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 Diseases: 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.
An unusual condition called insulin autoimmune syndrome was found in people using alpha lipoic acid that have been reported in Japan. This condition causes hypoglycemia (a disease) and antibodies directed against the body's own insulin without previous insulin therapy.
The effect of alpha lipoic acid in pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with kidney or liver disease is not yet predicted.
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