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Alpha Lipoic Acid
ALA, alpha-lipoic acid, TA, thioctic acid
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that is quickly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract; it is both water and fat soluble in the body.
The primary established use for ALA is the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy consists of sensory changes, sometimes described as stinging, burning, painful, numb, etc., that are localized to areas of the skin. Intravenous ALA is used to treat neuropathy associated with long-standing diabetes and poorly controlled blood sugar.
Advanced diabetic neuropathy leads to numbness. With loss of feeling the patient becomes unaware of trauma to the area, and sores may go unnoticed until they become serious or even life-threatening. This is common in the feet. Treatment with ALA appears to slow or stop progression of the neuropathy, and in the case of minimal early damage to the nerves it may even reverse some of the nerve damage.
Several small studies have also shown that ALA can help to increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, but more study is needed to confirm this.
ALA is a potent antioxidant. This antioxidant function is thought to protect nerve tissue from damage. Diseases or conditions such as diabetes that cause oxidative stress appear to be helped in varying degrees by antioxidants such as ALA.
Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.
ALA may also be useful in helping to prevent cataracts.
ALA is available in commercial preparations for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy.
Typical doses of ALA range from 200 to 800 mg per day.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a physician before taking any dietary supplements.
There are no side effects at recommended doses. Toxicity is extremely low.
There are no known significant food or drug interactions, except for the fact that ALA can reduce the required insulin or oral diabetes drugs doses. Close monitoring of blood sugar levels is recommended.
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