Alpha Lipoic Acid: Diabetic Neuropathy Studies

Alpha Lipoic Acid, also known as Lipoic Acid, is found in many of the foods we eat; particularly, organ meats, green leafy vegetables and yeast. It is found in virtually every cell of the body and is widely used throughout the body by many enzymes.

The benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid is gaining ever greater interest among many scientific researchers for its activity against diabetes, diabetic-related such as neuropathy and its ability to help heal damage to the nerves.

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Diabetic Neuropathy
Incredibly, on a worldwide basis, more than 380 million people suffer from diabetes. In an overview by Andrew J.M. Boulton, MD for Clinical Diabetes entitled: ‘Management of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy,” it was stated that 50 percent of older adults have some form of diabetic neuropathy from Type 2 diabetes. It is a painful outcome and may result in a loss of feeling in the feet and ankles and even amputation of the toes or feet themselves. Because of its association with enzyme systems throughout the human body, Alpha Lipoic Acid has been tested for its efficacy against diabetic neuropathy. Investigation of Alpha Lipoic Acid for neuropathy is ongoing – and it continues to show promise.

In 1995, Nagamatsu and associates in a medical research study in Diabetes Care entitled: “Lipoic acid improves nerve blood flow, reduces oxidative stress, and improves distal nerve conduction in experimental diabetic neuropathy.” The positive effects of Lipoic acid were shown against diabetic neuropathy. Since that time, numerous pieces of research have been conducted to verify the research on alpha lipoic acid for neuropathy.

For example, a 2006 study cited by the University Of Maryland Medical Center[i] it was again shown the benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid in treating diabetic neuropathy. Most recently, in a 2012 research study in the International Journal of Endocrinology[ii], researchers determined that given intravenously, there were short-term positive benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid against the peripheral nerve disease associated with diabetes.

The result from the particular study was in inconclusive for oral administration, so additional studies were warranted.

Expanding the Frontier
As the research continued on the abilities of Alpha Lipoic Acid in diabetic neuropathy to help protect against nerve damage as the result of diabetes, other scientists began to explore its use in nerve damage from other conditions.

In 2004, preliminary work was done in a detailed study entitled: Lipoic acid in multiple sclerosis: a pilot study[iii] conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, concluded that: In summary, oral LA represents a promising therapy for MS and warrants further investigation.”

In 2008, a follow up piece of research[iv] of Alpha Lipoic Acid for neuropathy was conducted on multiple sclerosis, where the authors summarized: “Based on…the preliminary results from this clinical trial, Lipoic Acid appear to have a potential of a useful drug in treating MS.”

Dosages
Popular dosages are found in 100 mg, 300 mg or 600 mg.

While every study has concluded that more rigorous work needs to be done, it does appear that Alpha Lipoic Acid holds promise in the fight against inflammation of the nerves as the result of diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis or other cases of nerve damage and that it can be effective orally.

 

[i] Ziegler D, Ametov A, Barinov A, et al. Oral treatment with alpha-lipoic acid improves symptomatic diabetic polyneuropathy: The SYDNEY 2 trial. Diabetes Care. 2006;29:2365-70.
[ii] Mijnhout GS, Kollen BJ, Alkhalaf A, Kleefstra N, Bilo HJ (2012). “Alpha lipoic Acid for symptomatic peripheral neuropathy in patients with diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”. Int J Endocrinol (Meta-analysis) 2012: 456279
[iii] National Institutes of Health, V Yadav, G Marracci, J Lovera, W Woodward, K Bogardus, W Marquardt, L Shinto,C Morris and D Bourdette
[iv] Salinthone S, Yadav V, Bourdette DN, Carr DW (June 2008). “Lipoic acid: a novel therapeutic approach for multiple sclerosis and other chronic inflammatory diseases of the CNS”. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets (Report) 8 (2): 132–42.