Alpha Lipoic Acid
Dr. med. Heinz Lüscher
Alpha lipoic acid is a multi-talent with diverse functions in the body. One important function is as a powerful endogenous antioxidant, and it also plays a major role in energy metabolism and detoxification. The fatty acid is used in medicine, especially for diabetes mellitus, as it has a positive influence on blood sugar levels and typical late effects such as neuropathies and arteriosclerotic diseases.
What is alpha-lipoic acid?
It can be found in many foods, but usually only in trace amounts. Higher concentrations are found in meat, especially red meat, and in liver, heart and kidneys. Certain vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes also contain alpha lipoic acid in higher amounts. Fortunately, however, it can also be produced by the body.
What does it do in the body?
Alpha lipoic acid is a fatty acid containing sulfur. Due to its sulfur content, it is both fat and water soluble and can cross the blood-brain barrier in the body, which has great benefits.
Action as an antioxidant: it is one of the most important antioxidants in the human body. As such, it increases overall antioxidant activity throughout the organism. That is, it intercepts the aggressive free radicals that lead to so-called oxidative stress. This occurs increasingly in diseases, pollution, stress, etc. and in turn causes damage to the cells. Alpha lipoic acid serves as cell protection and protects the organs as well as the genetic material in the cells (DNA). Due to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, its protective mechanism also extends to the brain and nervous system. Another plus point of alpha lipoic acid is its action as a “vital substance recycler”. It can “recycle” other known radical scavengers, but which have been “used up” by the reactions with oxygen radicals themselves, i.e. return them to their initial state. These are vitamins C and E, glutathione and coenzyme Q10.
Effect in energy metabolism: Furthermore, it is important for energy metabolism; it is essential for the production of energy by the mitochondria (power plants of the cells). The fatty acid is a central component (coenzyme) of various enzymes that convert sugar into energy, has a positive effect on blood sugar levels and is important for fat burning. Alpha lipoic acid is therefore used in medicine for diabetes mellitus.
Detoxification support: Alpha lipoic acid also has the ability to bind heavy metals. In this bound form, the harmful substances can be excreted from the body.
In which cases is alpha lipoic acid used?
A pure deficiency is actually not known. In special situations, however, the additional intake is useful, e.g. in people with diseases such as diabetes mellitus, but also multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease. In diabetes, it is an important part of the treatment, as it has a positive influence on blood sugar and prevents nerve damage.
Alpha-lipoic acid has the following effects on diabetes:
- It improves insulin sensitivity
- It helps the cells to better use glucose for energy production
- It contributes to a higher glucose uptake and normalization of blood glucose levels
- It increases nerve conduction and helps with numbness, tingling, insensitivity ect.
- It improves the blood flow to the nerves and thus the transmission of stimuli.
- It helps to minimize typical late effects of diabetes (e.g. cardiovascular diseases, neuropathies)
Since alpha lipoic acid enhances the blood sugar-lowering effect of insulin and antidiabetic drugs (diabetes medications) and can thus promote hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), closer blood sugar monitoring is recommended at the beginning of therapy.
Other possible uses:
- Heavy metal exposure
- Alzheimer’s disease/dementia
- multiple sclerosis
- Fatigue Syndrome (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
- Arteriosclerotic diseases
- Fatty liver
In-depth information with studies: https://orthoknowledge.eu/forschung/alpha-liponsaure/alpha-liponsaure/
Lipoic acid in Alzheimer’s dementia: https://www.deutsche-apotheker-zeitung.de/daz-az/2009/daz-3-2009/liponsaeure-bei-alzheimer-demenz