Alpha-lipoic acid

background

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is made naturally in the body and may protect against cell damage in a variety of conditions. Food sources rich in alpha-lipoic acid include spinach, broccoli, and yeast.
ALA, known as the "universal oxidant," has been used for decades in Europe to treat nerve conditions, including nerve damage resulting from poorly controlled diabetes.
There is strong evidence that ALA may help treat type 2 diabetes and neuropathy. According to a survey of 685 herbalists, ALA was one of the 10 most frequently recommended dietary supplements due to its efficacy in reducing high blood sugar levels.
ALA appears to be generally well tolerated, with minimal adverse effects.
There are not enough data to support the use of ALA in Amanita poisoning (a poisonous mushroom that causes liver damage), which has reportedly been a common practice for many years.
The therapeutic use of alpha-lipoic acid is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or corresponding regulatory agencies in other countries.

Related Terms

1,2-Dithiolane-3-valeric acid, acetate replacing factor, ALA, Alipure®, alpha lipoate, Alpha Lipoic Sustain® 300, alpha-lipoate, Alpha-lipon 300 Stada®, Berlithion®, Bertilium®, Biletan®, Byodiniral 300 QR, Byodinoral® 300, dexlipotum, DHLA, dihydrolipoic acid, Glucotize™, Lipo-A HR, lipoic acid, Lipoicin®, Liponsäure (German), Thioctacid®, Thioctacid 600 HR®, Thioctacid® T, Thioctamide®, thioctan, Thioctic®, thioctic acid, Thioderm®, Thiogamma® 600, Tiobec®, tioctic acid.
Combination product examples: DermaVite™ (alpha-lipoic acid, marine proteins, pine bark extract, vitamins, and minerals), Metabloc™ (hydroxycitrate and alpha-lipoic acid).
Note: Alpha-lipoic acid should not be confused with alpha-linolenic acid, which is also abbreviated ALA.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
 
Neuropathy (nerve pain or damage) (Grade: A)
Several studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an effective treatment for neuropathy (nerve pain or damage) associated with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes (Grade: A)
Several studies have shown that ALA may help control and improve blood sugar levels. Additional studies on this topic are needed. Diabetes is a serious illness and should be treated under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider.
Altitude sickness (Grade: C)
Antioxidants that included ALA had mixed effects on altitude sickness. Additional research is needed on ALA alone.
Alzheimer's disease (Grade: C)
Early research shows mixed results regarding ALA for brain protection. Additional research on this topic is needed.
Antioxidant (Grade: C)
ALA may increase the production of glutathione and help repair cell damage. Most studies support the antioxidant effects of ALA. Additional research is needed in this area.
Bone density (Grade: C)
Overall evidence of ALA for improving bone mineral density is lacking, although ALA has increased density in a specific hip bone. Further research is needed.
Cachexia (weight loss/wasting from some diseases) (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that alpha-lipoic acid with other antioxidants may improve weight loss from cancer. Studies evaluating ALA alone are needed.
Cancer (Grade: C)
Overall evidence of ALA for preventing cancer progression is currently lacking. Additional research is needed in this area.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that ALA and gamma-linolenic acid may benefit symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, particularly in the early stages of the disease. Additional research evaluating ALA alone is needed.
Cognitive function (associated with HIV) (Grade: C)
ALA has been studied as a treatment for cognitive impairment (problems with mental function) caused by nerve damage in HIV patients. More high-quality studies are needed.
Glaucoma (increased eye pressure) (Grade: C)
ALA may protect the eye from excess pressure, but more research is needed to evaluate ALA's long-term effect.
Heart disease prevention (Grade: C)
In early research, ALA and other antioxidants had mixed effects on blood pressure. The effects of ALA alone are unclear, and further research is needed.
Heart failure (Grade: C)
Antioxidants that included ALA improved some measurements of blood flow. Further research is needed on ALA alone.
Heart muscle protection during heart surgery (Grade: C)
Early research shows that antioxidants, including ALA, may benefit people undergoing cardiac surgery. Further research is needed on ALA alone.
High blood pressure (Grade: C)
The effect of ALA on blood pressure in unclear. Additional research on this topic is needed.
High blood sugar/glucose intolerance (Grade: C)
In people with impaired glucose tolerance, ALA had mixed results in improving insulin levels and the insulin response. Further research is needed on this topic.
HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy (Grade: C)
In HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy, ALA improved white blood cell function. Additional research on this topic is needed.
Improving blood flow (endothelial dysfunction) (Grade: C)
ALA has shown mixed results for improving blood flow. Additional research on this topic is needed.
Inflammation (Grade: C)
The effects of ALA on inflammation markers are unclear. Further research is needed on this topic.
Ischemia-reperfusion injury protection (prevention of tissue damage after restored blood flow) (Grade: C)
ALA may prevent tissue damage after restored blood flow in the liver. Additional research on this topic is needed.
Kidney disease (Grade: C)
ALA may improve the blood vessel lining function, possibly benefiting patients with end-stage kidney disease. More research is needed in this area.
Lipid lowering effects (Grade: C)
ALA has shown mixed results in reducing cholesterol levels. Further research is needed.
Migraine (Grade: C)
ALA may help prevent migraines. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Mitochondrial diseases (Grade: C)
Research investigating the effect of ALA for mitochondrial diseases (problems with cell energy) is limited. Further research is required.
Pain (burning mouth syndrome) (Grade: C)
ALA has shown mixed results as a treatment for burning mouth syndrome, a condition that causes the mouth to feel hot or tingly. Additional research is needed.
Peripheral artery disease (Grade: C)
ALA may reduce pain associated with exercise in people with peripheral artery disease. Additional studies are warranted.
Radiation injuries (Grade: C)
Limited research suggests that ALA may be beneficial for people exposed to high levels of radiation. Well-designed studies are needed.
Rheumatoid arthritis (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that ALA acid lacks effects on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory mediators. Further research is needed.
Schizophrenia (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that ALA may reduce some adverse effects of antipsychotic drugs. Additional high-quality studies are needed.
Sciatica (pain from compressed nerve) (Grade: C)
The antioxidant effects of ALA may aid recovery of nerve function and pain reduction. More high-quality studies are needed.
Skin aging (Grade: C)
Early research shows that a skin cream with ALA may help improve signs of skin aging. More research is needed in this area.
Skin pigmentation disorders (Grade: C)
Antioxidants with ALA may improve the effectiveness of treatment for skin pigmentation. Additional research on this topic is needed.
Steatohepatitis (fatty liver) (Grade: C)
ALA may reduce liver size and reduce other symptoms of a fatty liver. More well-designed studies are needed.
Weight loss (Grade: C)
Research suggests ALA may reduce weight gain associated with use of antipsychotic drugs. Additional high-quality studies are needed.
Wound healing (in people undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy) (Grade: C)
ALA may reduce tissue damage caused by long-term exposure to high levels of oxygen. More research is needed in this area.
Alcoholic liver disease (Grade: D)
ALA has been studied as a treatment for alcohol-related liver disease. However, benefits have not been observed at this time. More research is needed in this area.