Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Neuropathy

11Alpha-lipoic acid is a chemical called an antioxidant. Yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes are good sources of alpha-lipoic acid. It can also be made in a laboratory for medicinal purposes. Alpha-lipoic acid is used for diabetes and nerve-related symptoms of diabetes including burning, pain, and numbness in the legs and arms. However, it can be used for other medical conditions as well. Furthermore, high doses of alpha-lipoic acid are actually approved in Germany for the treatment of these symptoms.

How Does It Work?

Alpha-lipoic acid helps to prevent cell damage in the body, and also restores vitamin levels. There is also evidence that alpha-lipoic acid can improve the function and conduction of neurons in diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid is used in the body to break down carbohydrates and to make energy for the other organs in the body. Alpha-lipoic acid also works as an antioxidant, which means that it might provide protection to the brain under conditions of damage or injury.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy, or foot neuropathy, can be caused by injury, nutritional deficiencies, chemotherapy, Lyme disease, alcoholism, shingles, thyroid disease, and kidney failure. Symptoms can include pain, burning, numbness, tingling, weakness, and itching. Alpha-lipoic acid is thought to work as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue, enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage. 

Side Effects

Side effects of alpha-lipoic acid may include headache, tingling or a “pins and needles” sensation, skin rash, or muscle cramps. The safety of alpha-lipoic acid in pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with kidney or liver disease is currently unknown.

Possible Drug Interactions

Alpha lipoic acid may improve blood sugar control, so people with diabetes who are taking medication to lower blood sugar, such as metformin, glyburide, should only take alpha-lipoic acid under the direct supervision of a health professional and have their blood sugar levels carefully monitored. Additionally, animal studies indicate that alpha-lipoic acid may alter thyroid hormone levels, so it could have the same effect in humans. People taking thyroid medications should be monitored by their healthcare provider.



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