Alpha-lipoic acid is a fatty acid that can be found inside the cells. This fatty acid plays a very important role in the conversion of glucose into energy. It is also a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize the free radicals, and thus, protect the body cells and tissues from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals.
Today, this fatty acid is widely known for its effectiveness in treating neuropathy, which is caused by the damage of the peripheral nerves. Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, burning pain, and muscle weakness are some common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, and these symptoms can be alleviated to a great extent with the help of this fatty acid.
Effectiveness in Treating Neuropathy
This fatty acid is a potent antioxidant, and as an antioxidant, it can neutralize both water and fat soluble free radicals. It can protect the nerve cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. Many research and studies conducted in this regard have suggested that nerve disease may be associated with the damage caused by the free radical. So, alpha-lipoic acid can help treat peripheral neuropathy by protecting the nerve cells from the damage caused by the free radicals.
Peripheral neuropathy can be associated with several conditions, including, diabetes, chemotherapy, alcoholism, Lyme disease, and nutritional deficiency. This fatty acid can be effective in treating both diabetic neuropathy and chemotherapy-related neuropathy. Chemotherapy-related neuropathy is mainly caused by drugs like, paclitaxel, bevacizumab, oxaliplatin, and gemcitabine. The symptoms produced by this neuropathy are similar to the signs an symptoms of diabetic neuropathy
Though there are several drugs that can be used for treating neuropathy, they can cause some side effects. Alpha-lipoic acid, on the other hand, can help treat neuropathy without producing serious side effects. One study has found that a oral dose of 600 mg alpha-lipoic acid considerably reduced the symptoms of neuropathy. Another study, which was released in 2002 in the 'Journal of Clinical Oncology', revealed that more than half of the patients taking the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin, experienced fewer symptoms of neuropathy after they were treated with this fatty acid.
If taken in high dosage, this fatty acid can cause a few side effects, like nausea and indigestion. Additionally, it can reduce the level of some minerals in the body. Headaches, skin rash, muscle cramps, and a low level of blood sugar can be some other undesirable effects that can be produced by this fatty acid.
So, diabetic people should maintain caution, and monitor their blood sugar levels regularly while taking the supplements of this fatty acid. The safety of this fatty acid in pregnant and nursing women has not been established. So, they should talk to their health care provider before considering to take the supplements of alpha-lipoic acid. Individuals having liver and kidney disease should also consult their physicians before using this supplement for the treatment of neuropathy.
This fatty acid can have some additional benefits, especially for the skin. It is believed that alpha-lipoic can protect the skin from free radicals and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, besides improving the skin tone and texture.