Alpha Lipoic Acid improves diabetes and neuropathy

Alpha Lipoic Acid improves diabetes and neuropathy

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a natural anti-oxidant which is perhaps best-known as a supplement for treating peripheral diabetic neuropathy,1 a condition which causes burning, tingling, pain, numbness, etc. in the hands and feet of many diabetics.

But studies have also shown that ALA is beneficial for diabetics without neuropathy:

Human studies on oral ALA supplementation in diabetics

Dose of ALA

Duration

Subjects

Effects of ALA

300 mg/d or placebo 8 weeks Type 2 diabetics Reduced blood sugar and insulin resistance 2
600 mg/d or placebo 16 weeks Type 2 diabetics No beneficial effects 3
1000 mg/d 12 weeks Prediabetics No beneficial effects 4
1200 mg/d 4 weeks Type 2 diabetics Increased insulin sensitivity
600, 1200 or 1800 mg/d or placebo 4 weeks Type 2 diabetics Increased insulin sensitivity. No difference between dosages. 5
300 mg/d or placebo 90 days Type 2 diabetics Lower HbA1c 6
300, 600, 900, 1200 mg/d or placebo 6 months Type 2 diabetics Lower fasting blood sugar and HbA1c. Greater effect with higher dose.7

As you can see, 300-1800 milligrams per day of ALA improved blood sugar control in 5 of 7 studies. No study found that ALA was worse than placebo.

Alpha lipoic acid treats neuropathy

In addition to promoting weight loss and lowering insulin resistance, ALA can also improve painful neuropathy.

In Germany, ALA is actually a standard treatment for neuropathy, and covered by health insurance companies.8

In fact, studies have found that ALA can reduce neuropathic symptoms by 50% in just 3-5 weeks,8 which is quite impressive for a single nutrient.

To treat painful neuropathy, 600 milligrams per day of ALA seems sufficient. However, taking up to 1800 mg per day is better for weight loss. So if you want to lose weight as well, you might want to take the higher dose.

Sources

  1. Golbidi S, Badran M, Laher I. Diabetes and alpha lipoic Acid. Front Pharmacol.2:69.
  2. Ansar H, Mazloom Z, Kazemi F, Hejazi N. Effect of alpha-lipoic acid on blood glucose, insulin resistance and glutathione peroxidase of type 2 diabetic patients. Saudi Med J. Jun;32(6):584-588.
  3. de Oliveira AM, Rondo PH, Luzia LA, D’Abronzo FH, Illison VK. The effects of lipoic acid and alpha-tocopherol supplementation on the lipid profile and insulin sensitivity of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. May;92(2):253-260.
  4. McNeilly AM, Davison GW, Murphy MH, et al. Effect of alpha-lipoic acid and exercise training on cardiovascular disease risk in obesity with impaired glucose tolerance. Lipids Health Dis.10:217.
  5. Jacob S, Ruus P, Hermann R, et al. Oral administration of RAC-alpha-lipoic acid modulates insulin sensitivity in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus: a placebo-controlled pilot trial. Free Radic Biol Med. Aug 1999;27(3-4):309-314.
  6. Udupa A, Nahar P, Shah S, Kshirsagar M, Ghongane B. A comparative study of effects of omega-3 Fatty acids, alpha lipoic Acid and vitamin e in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Ann Med Health Sci Res. Jul;3(3):442-446.
  7. Porasuphatana S, Suddee S, Nartnampong A, Konsil J, Harnwong B, Santaweesuk A. Glycemic and oxidative status of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus following oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid: a randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled study. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr.21(1):12-21.
  8. Mijnhout GS, Kollen BJ, Alkhalaf A, Kleefstra N, Bilo HJ. Alpha lipoic Acid for symptomatic peripheral neuropathy in patients with diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Endocrinol.2012:456279.