Lipoic acid, also known as alpha lipoic acid, is a powerful, natural
antioxidant slowly becoming recognized as having some unique properties in
the therapy and prevention of a broad range of diseases. In addition to being
an antioxidant, lipoic acid helps the body use glucose, hence lipoic acid’s
potential role in improving blood sugar control. Lipoic acid is readily
absorbed from the diet or as a supplement.
Lipoic Acid has a variety of benefits:
Lipoic acid can regenerate vitamin C from its oxidized form, dehydroascorbic
acid. Lipoic acid can also potentially regenerate other antioxidants. Lipoic
acid increases the levels of glutathione, a very important antioxidant
normally found in our cells and responsible for mopping up all types of
toxins and free radicals. Glutathione supplements, however, are not helpful
since glutathione does not have the ability to cross cell membranes.
Fortunately, both laboratory and animal studies have shown that lipoic acid
can stimulate the production of this antioxidant. This is particularly
important during periods of excessive stress or exposure to radiation or
Lipoic acid also acts as a powerful antioxidant in the brain and is likely to
protect brain cells from toxins.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) has features of a neuropathy and could be
related to the production of the toxic free radicals that are released in
stress situations. Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant able to increase the
levels of intracellular glutathione and eliminate free radicals. A study
conducted for two months on 60 patients with constant BMS showed treatment
with alpha-lipoic acid significantly improved symptoms compared to placebo.
This improvement was maintained in over 70% of patients at the 1 year
Lipoic acid is helpful in diabetics, including those with diabetic neuropathy
and diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease). Oxidative stress plays a central
role in the pathogenesis and progression of late microangiopathic (small
vessel) complications in diabetes mellitus. Treatment of diabetic patients
with the lipoic acid reduces oxidative stress and urinary albumin excretion,
and slows the progression of endothelial cell damage. The dose for diabetics
may range from 50 to 300 mg daily.
High blood sugar levels for prolonged periods can be toxic to nerves in the
body. Diabetics who don’t control their blood sugar eventually start losing
sensation in their feet. Other problems follow resulting from damage to
various nerves that supply internal organs. Even impotence can result due to
loss of nerve sensation in genital organs. However high blood sugar may not
be the only culprit. Diabetics are usually under high oxidative stress and
this probably contributes to their neurological problems.
Several studies indicate that lipoic acid has beneficial effects on
diabetic neuropathy, party due to its actions as an antioxidant, and also by
improving the circulation to tiny blood vessels supplying nerve tissue.
Lipoic acid and gamma-linolenic acid interact synergistically to improve
nitric oxide-mediated neurogenic and endothelium-dependent relaxation of
corpus cavernosum in experimental diabetes. Whether lipoic acid helps those
with sexual dysfunction is not known.
Feeding lipoic acid and acetyl-l-carnitine to old rats improves performance
on memory tasks by lowering oxidative damage and improving mitochondrial
Loss of Smell (Olfactory)
Lipoic acid may help regenerate loss of smell after a cold.
Additional conditions where lipoic acid may be helpful
Research in humans with lipoic acid is still incomplete. However, lipoic acid
may theoretically be useful in a variety of medical conditions, including
coronary artery disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s disease,
and Huntington’s disease.
The ideal dose of lipoic acid is not known at this time. As a daily
maintenance, a dose of 20 to 50 mg seems reasonable. Higher doses may be
required to treat or prevent diabetic complications or other medical
Dr. Sahelian’s personal experience
When I take about 30 to 50 mg of lipoic acid in the morning, I notice a
slight visual enhancement along with a mildly relaxed sense of well-being. I
think lipoic acid is one of the most important and beneficial supplements
Ray Sahelian, M.D. is the best selling author of several books including Natural Sex Boosters, Mind Boosters, and The Stevia Cookbook.
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