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A
lpha Lipoic Acid
 
Lipoic Acid: A Powerful and Unique Antioxidant

© Ray Sahelian MD

Lipoic acid, also known as alpha lipoic acid, is a powerful, natural antioxidant slowly becoming recognized as having some unique properties in the therapy and prevention of a broad range of diseases. In addition to being an antioxidant, lipoic acid helps the body use glucose, hence lipoic acid's potential role in improving blood sugar control. Lipoic acid is readily absorbed from the diet or as a supplement.

Lipoic Acid has a variety of benefits:

Antioxidant
Lipoic acid can regenerate vitamin C from its oxidized form, dehydroascorbic acid. Lipoic acid can also potentially regenerate other antioxidants. Lipoic acid increases the levels of glutathione, a very important antioxidant normally found in our cells and responsible for mopping up all types of toxins and free radicals. Glutathione supplements, however, are not helpful since glutathione does not have the ability to cross cell membranes. Fortunately, both laboratory and animal studies have shown that lipoic acid can stimulate the production of this antioxidant. This is particularly important during periods of excessive stress or exposure to radiation or toxic substances.

Lipoic acid also acts as a powerful antioxidant in the brain and is likely to protect brain cells from toxins.

Burning Mouth Syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) has features of a neuropathy and could be related to the production of the toxic free radicals that are released in stress situations. Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant able to increase the levels of intracellular glutathione and eliminate free radicals. A study conducted for two months on 60 patients with constant BMS showed treatment with alpha-lipoic acid significantly improved symptoms compared to placebo. This improvement was maintained in over 70% of patients at the 1 year follow-up.

Diabetes
Lipoic acid is helpful in diabetics, including those with diabetic neuropathy and diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease). Oxidative stress plays a central role in the pathogenesis and progression of late microangiopathic (small vessel) complications in diabetes mellitus. Treatment of diabetic patients with the lipoic acid reduces oxidative stress and urinary albumin excretion, and slows the progression of endothelial cell damage. The dose for diabetics may range from 50 to 300 mg daily.

Diabetic Neuropathy
High blood sugar levels for prolonged periods can be toxic to nerves in the body. Diabetics who don't control their blood sugar eventually start losing sensation in their feet. Other problems follow resulting from damage to various nerves that supply internal organs. Even impotence can result due to loss of nerve sensation in genital organs. However high blood sugar may not be the only culprit. Diabetics are usually under high oxidative stress and this probably contributes to their neurological problems.

Several studies indicate that lipoic acid has beneficial effects on diabetic neuropathy, party due to its actions as an antioxidant, and also by improving the circulation to tiny blood vessels supplying nerve tissue.

Erectile Dysfunction
Lipoic acid and gamma-linolenic acid interact synergistically to improve nitric oxide-mediated neurogenic and endothelium-dependent relaxation of corpus cavernosum in experimental diabetes. Whether lipoic acid helps those with sexual dysfunction is not known.

Memory
Feeding lipoic acid and acetyl-l-carnitine to old rats improves performance on memory tasks by lowering oxidative damage and improving mitochondrial function.

Loss of Smell (Olfactory)
Lipoic acid may help regenerate loss of smell after a cold.

Additional conditions where lipoic acid may be helpful Research in humans with lipoic acid is still incomplete. However, lipoic acid may theoretically be useful in a variety of medical conditions, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease, and Huntington's disease.

Dosage
The ideal dose of lipoic acid is not known at this time. As a daily maintenance, a dose of 20 to 50 mg seems reasonable. Higher doses may be required to treat or prevent diabetic complications or other medical conditions.

Dr. Sahelian's personal experience
When I take about 30 to 50 mg of lipoic acid in the morning, I notice a slight visual enhancement along with a mildly relaxed sense of well-being. I think lipoic acid is one of the most important and beneficial supplements available.


Ray Sahelian
Ray Sahelian, M.D. is the best selling author of several books including Natural Sex Boosters, Mind Boosters, and The Stevia Cookbook.
Get a free copy of Dr. Sahelian's new book Natural Sex Boosters. It discusses supplements, herbs, and hormones to enhance stamina, sensation, and sexuality for both men and women.

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About The Author
Ray Sahelian, M.D., is a popular and respected physician who has been seen on numerous television programs including NBC Today, Dateline NBC, and CNN, and quoted by countless major magazines such as Newsweek He is the bestselling author of Mind Boosters, Natural Sex Boosters, and ...more
 
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