ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID Overview Information
Alpha-lipoic acid is a vitamin-like chemical called an antioxidant. Yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes are good sources of alpha-lipoic acid. It is also made in the laboratory for use as medicine.
Alpha-lipoic acid is used for diabetes and nerve-related symptoms of diabetes including burning, pain, and numbness in the legs and arms. High doses of alpha-lipoic acid are approved in Germany for the treatment of these symptoms.
Some people use alpha-lipoic acid for memory loss, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), HIV/AIDS, cancer, liver disease, diseases of the heart and blood vessels (including a disorder called cardiac autonomic neuropathy) and Lyme disease.
Alpha-lipoic acid is also used to treat eye-related disorders, such as damage to the retina, cataracts, glaucoma, and an eye disease called Wilson’s disease.
How does it work?
Alpha-lipoic acid seems to help prevent certain kinds of cell damage in the body, and also restores 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.
Alpha-lipoic acid seems to work as an antioxidant, which means that it might provide protection to the brain under conditions of damage or injury. The antioxidant effects might also be helpful in certain liver diseases.
Possibly Effective for:
- Treating type 2 diabetes, when taken by mouth or given intravenously (by IV).
- Diabetic nerve pain. Taking alpha-lipoic acid by mouth seems to improve symptoms such as burning, pain, and numbness in the legs and arms of people with diabetes. It may take 3 to 5 weeks of treatment for symptoms to improve.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Aging skin. Early research suggests that applying a cream containing 5% alpha-lipoic acid to the face may reduce fine lines and roughness due to sun damage.
- Dementia. Taking alpha-lipoic acid might slow down the decline of thinking skills in people with various kinds of dementia. But almost a year of treatment may be needed.
- Leg pain when walking due to blood vessel disease. Early studies suggest alpha-lipoic acid might reduce pain in people with this condition, but doesn’t improve their ability to exercise.
- Amanita mushroom poisoning. The use of alpha-lipoic acid in treating mushroom poisoning is controversial. You may have heard people say it works, but the science doesn’t support that. In fact, some researchers recommend against using alpha-lipoic acid for this purpose.
- Eye problems.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Lyme disease.
- Wilson's disease.
- Heart disease.
- Other conditions.
ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID Side Effects & Safety
Alpha-lipoic acid is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. People taking alpha-lipoic acid by mouth might get a rash. People at risk for thiamine deficiency should take a thiamine supplement.
People with diabetes should be careful to check their blood sugar levels because alpha-lipoic acid might lower blood sugar.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of alpha-lipoic acid during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Alpha-lipoic acid can decrease blood sugar levels. Your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted by your healthcare provider.
Excessive use of alcohol/thiamine deficiency: Alcohol can lower the amount of thiamine (vitamin B1) in the body. Taking alpha-lipoic acid when there is a shortage of thiamine might cause serious health problems. If you drink a lot of alcohol and take alpha-lipoic acid too, you should take a thiamine supplement.
Thyroid disease: Taking alpha-lipoic acid might interfere with treatments for under-active or over-active thyroid.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Medications for cancer (Chemotherapy) interacts with ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant. There is some concern that antioxidants might decrease the effectiveness of some medications used for cancers. But it is too soon to know if this interaction occurs.
Minor Interaction Be watchful with this combination
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID
Alpha-lipoic acid might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking alpha-lipoic acid along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. But more evidence is needed to know if this interaction is a big concern. Monitor your blood sugar closely.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID Dosing
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For treating type 2 diabetes and improving symptoms such as burning, pain, and numbness in the legs and arms: 600 or 1200 mg daily.