Alpha lipoic acid is a naturally forming antioxidant that is found in nearly every cell of the body. Antioxidants are powerful agents that counteract free radicals which are known to cause various forms of cancer, although they have lesser-known functions as well.
Most antioxidants and vitamins are either water-soluble or fat-soluble, but not both. This means that they may be utilized by the body in only certain parts of the body, and this quality also affects where any surplus nutrients are stored in the body and how long it can be stored.
A very unique characteristic of alpha lipoic acid is that it is both water-soluble and fat-soluble. It may be obtained naturally by eating certain foods like broccoli, but it can also be readily produced by the body as needed without being acquired in the diet.
Study shows that alpha lipoic acid may help diabetes and peripheral neuropathy
Alpha lipoic acid has been used in Europe for years as an alternative way to treat diabetes and peripheral neuropathy. Although it is considered an alternative medicine, it has been approved by medical regulators in Germany as a legitimate treatment that has definite therapeutic properties.
Over 20 studies have been performed comparing the effects of alpha lipoic acid versus that of a placebo and most show a significant positive correlation between the supplement and lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. It has also shown that it can reduce the burning and tingling pain for victims of autonomic and peripheral neuropathy.
The exact mechanism for this effect is not completely known at this time, however, the benefits have been shown to be statistically significant when compared against a placebo in a number of studies.
There are drawbacks and dangers to taking alpha lipoic acid supplements
The main drawback to taking the supplement for these purposes is that it takes a relatively high dose in order to gain benefits for neuropathy and diabetes. Taking such high dosages can have side effects such as an upset stomach and headaches, and there also have been instances in Japan where it has triggered an autoimmune response in the body.
For example, the recommended daily dosage is 60 to 100 mg per day for usage as an antioxidant supplement, but the recommended dosage for use as blood sugar control or for peripheral neuropathy is 600 to 800 and milligrams per day.
Most of the studies cited administered the alpha lipoic acid to the patients intravenously rather than orally. If taken orally, it is recommended that they be ingested on an empty stomach in order to increase the absorption rate.
Alpha lipoic acid should be viewed as an alternative treatment which does not have high acceptance at this time by the medical establishment in the United States, but does have a notable track record in Europe and may have benefits to many patients who have not responded to traditional therapies.
It is recommended that any consumption of alpha lipoic acid be recommended and properly monitored by your doctor, however, because of the risk of side effects cited.