May 2, 2016

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

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What other names is Alpha-lipoic Acid known by?

Acetate Replacing Factor, A-Lipoic Acid, 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, Alpha-Lipoic Acid Extract, ALA, Biletan, Extrait d'acide Alpha-Lipoïque, Lipoic Acid, Lipoicin, R-ALA, R-Alpha-Lipoic Acid R, S-Alpha Lipoic Acid, (R)-Lipoic Acid, R-Lipoic Acid, RS-Alpha-Lipoic Acid Thioctacid, Thioctan, Thioctic Acid, 1,2-dithiolane-3-pentanoic acid, 1,2-dithiolane-3-valeric acid, 6,8-dithiooctanoic acid, 6,8-thioctic acid, 5-(1,2-dithiolan-3-yl) valeric acid.

What is Alpha-lipoic Acid?

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.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Research suggests that taking a product containing alpha-lipoic acid, CoQ10, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium up to 2 months before and 1 month after surgery seems to decrease complications following CABG surgery.
  • Diabetes. Taking alpha-lipoic acid by mouth or intravenously seems to improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. However, there is some inconsistent evidence that shows it does not affect blood sugar.
  • Prediabetes. Some research shows that receiving 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid intravenously once daily for 2 weeks decreases blood sugar after eating.
  • 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.
  • Vitiligo. Taking a product containing alpha-lipoic acid, vitamins C and E, and polyunsaturated fatty acids along with light therapy daily for 8 months seems to improve skin discoloration in people with patchy skin due to vitiligo.
  • Weight loss. Research suggests that taking 1800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily for 20 weeks reduces body weight in people who are overweight.
  • Wound healing. Some research suggests that taking 300 mg of a specific alpha-lipoic product once before and once after oxygen therapy for 14-30 days reduces the wound area in people with ulcers.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Alcoholic liver disease. Taking 300 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily for up to 6 months does not improve alcoholic liver disease.
  • Altitude sickness. Taking 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid together with vitamin C and vitamin E does not seem to prevent altitude sickness.
  • Alzheimer's disease. Early research suggests that taking a product containing 600-900 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily for up to 2 years does not seem to have an effect on mental function in people with Alzheimer's disease.
  • Heart-related nerve problems (cardiac autonomic neuropathy). Taking alpha-lipoic acid by mouth seems to improve measures of heart-related nerve problems, but not the associated symptoms.
  • Damage to the retina caused by diabetes. Taking 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid by mouth daily for 24 months does not improve damage to the retina associated with diabetes.
  • HIV-related brain problems.Taking alpha-lipoic acid by mouth has no effect on HIV-associated brain problems.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Taking 300 mg of alpha-lipoic acid by mouth daily for 12 weeks does not seem to affect pain or inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness 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. Other research shows that taking a product containing alpha-lipoic acid (DermaVite) twice daily for 6 months improve skin thickness and fine wrinkles.
  • Amanita mushroom poisoning. The use of alpha-lipoic acid in treating mushroom poisoning is controversial. Some researchers recommend against using alpha-lipoic acid for this purpose.
  • Burning mouth syndrome. Research suggests that taking 800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid by mouth daily for 8 weeks does not reduce burning symptoms in people with burning mouth syndrome. However, other early research suggests that it does seem to reduce burning in the mouth.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. Early research suggests that taking a combination product containing 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid for 90 days improves function in people with carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Dementia. Early evidence suggests that taking alpha-lipoic acid might slow down the decline of thinking skills in people with various kinds of dementia. However, almost a year of treatment may be needed.
  • Glaucoma. Research suggests that taking 75-150 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily for 1-2 months might improve vision in people with glaucoma.
  • Heart failure. Early evidence suggests that taking alpha-lipoic acid might reduce pressure in the arteries in people with heart failure.
  • HIV. Early evidence suggests that taking 300 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily for 6 months improves white blood cell counts in people with HIV.
  • High blood pressure. Research shows that taking 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily with medication does not decrease blood pressure compared to medication alone.
  • Migraine headache. Early research suggests that taking 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily for 3 months improves the severity and frequency of migraines. However, it does not improve the number of monthly migraine attacks.
  • Nonalcholic liver inflammation (steatohepatitis). Early evidence suggests that taking 600-900 mg of alpha-lipoic acid dialy for 2 months might reduce liver size and symptoms in people with nonalcoholic liver inflammation.
  • Radiation exposure. Early evidence suggests that taking 400 mg of alpha-lipoic acid alone or together with vitamin E for 28 days might reduce symptoms of radiation exposure in children living near contaminated areas.
  • Clogged arteries (peripheral artery disease). Early research suggests that taking 300 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily might reduce pain associated with exercise in people with clogged arteries.
  • Leg weakness and pain (sciatica). Early research shows that taking 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily for 60 days improves leg pain and weakness due to damage of the sciatic nerve. However, it does not seem to benefit sleep quality in people with this condition.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Cancer.
  • Lyme disease.
  • Wilson's disease.
  • Heart disease.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of alpha-lipoic acid for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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