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Alpha Lipoic Acid for Diabetic Neuropathy: Does It Work?

Alpha-lipoic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid naturally present in food. Some studies suggest that supplementing with ALA may play a task in treating diabetic neuropathy.



You already understand how essential food regimen is for keeping a lid on diabetes symptoms and glucose levels.

When you live with diabetic neuropathy, a style of nerve damage resulting from diabetes, certain natural compounds present in foods may help slow progression and relieve symptoms.

One is named alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), and a few studies suggest it might play a task in treating neuropathy. Moreover, as an antioxidant, it might be helpful for keeping your cells and organs like your brain and liver healthy.

What does research say up to now about ALA? Let’s discover.

What’s alpha-lipoic acid?

ALA is an antioxidant present in foods like broccoli, spinach, and beef. Your body’s cells also make it in small amounts.

Antioxidants are thought to guard cells against damage that, over time, can result in chronic diseases making them crucial components of your immune system. Fruit, vegetables, and nuts are a couple of examples of foods wealthy in antioxidants. ALA is one antioxidant that early research has found could also be helpful if you’ve got diabetes.

“ALA is taken into account more of a supplemental therapy which will affect diabetic neuropathy,” says Dr. Maamoun Salam, an associate professor of endocrinology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “It also has some glucose-lowering effects.”

Alpha-lipoic acid isn’t to be confused with alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid your body doesn’t make. Same initials, different compounds.

Alpha-lipoic acid and neuropathy

When you’ve got chronically high blood sugar, it might probably damage nerves and the small blood vessels that nourish your nerves. That’s how diabetic neuropathy is developed.

ALA may help neuropathy in multiple ways. By itself, it’s an efficient antioxidant. Taking an ALA dietary complement may also boost vitamin C and E levels, which in turn can increase your body’s supply of glutathione, one other antioxidant. Together, these two antioxidants may clear free radicals – molecules that could cause cell damage – more efficiently.

That’s particularly essential when you’ve got diabetes as individuals with the condition either produce more free radicals, clear them slower, or each. Fewer free radicals may mean less nerve damage and milder diabetic neuropathy symptoms.

Dr. Salam points to a trio of trials of ALA in individuals with diabetes that showed improvements in pain, numbness, and paresthesia. Nevertheless, he notes, the sample sizes were small and the study durations short, so it’s difficult to conclude whether ALA is effective for diabetic neuropathy.

Alpha-lipoic acid and glucose control

For individuals with diabetes, ALA may extend beyond diabetic neuropathy treatment and aid blood sugar management.

Researchers suggest ALA works by binding to certain insulin receptors in liver cells. The compound has been called an insulin-mimetic agent, meaning it mimics the results of insulin. Though research is restricted to animal studies, the rise within the antioxidant glutathione that results from ALA supplementation may play a role in glucose management.

Tips on how to get ALA

All cells within the body naturally produce some ALA. You’ll be able to get more through foods equivalent to:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Organ meats like liver
  • Beef
  • Rice bran
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Yeast

You may also get it from dietary supplements, though it’s essential to notice these are expensive. Since ALA is each water- and fat-soluble, you don’t have to take it with food like you’d with a purely fat-soluble compound equivalent to vitamin D.

Possible unwanted effects of ALA

ALA is a dietary complement and subsequently doesn’t require the identical level of evidence and rigorous scientific testing as a pharmaceutical medicine. Just like other dietary supplements, it only must be considered protected and effective by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be sold.

ALA isn’t generally present in tablets or capsules greater than 600 mg because studies suggest that higher doses are usually not simpler. Unwanted side effects can include:

  • Dyspepsia (indigestion, sour stomach)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Rare cases have been reported through which ALA appears to have induced insulin autoimmune syndrome, a rare style of hypoglycemia brought on by too many insulin autoantibodies.

Is ALA best for you?

“Sometimes I’ll offer it as add-on therapy for individuals who don’t wish to modify to a different approved agent or increase the dose of an agent they’re using because they wish to avoid unwanted effects,” said Salam.

Speak to a healthcare skilled before trying dietary supplements like ALA. Supplements aren’t any substitute for being mindful about food regimen, physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking any and all prescription medications as directed.

Learn more about treatments for diabetic neuropathy here:

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