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Lipoic acid Review Article

 

Lipoic acid is both water and fat-soluble antioxidant. It lowers oxidative damage to proteins and protects mitochondria from oxidative stress. Increase glutathione level. It has lipotropic effect, protects against potential damage by heavy metals.
Keywords: Lipoic acid vitamin, carnitine lipoic acid, lipoic acid acetyl carnitine, lipoic acid supplements, lipoic acid diabetes, lipoic acid dosage, lipoic acid liver, lipoic acid weight loss, lipoic acid food source.

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Lipoic acid is also known as Alpha Lipoic Acid abbreviated as ALA and is also referred to as Thioctic acid. It is an antioxidant found in every cell and is made by the body. It is responsible for helping to turn glucose into energy. Antioxidants are materials that attack free radicals, waste products are end results that are formed when glucose is converted into energy. Harmful chemical reactions are caused by free radicals by which cells of the body can be damaged, making it difficult for body to fight against infections. These can also damage tissues and organs. Antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C can work only in water or fatty tissues. However, Lipoic acid is both water and fat soluble that is why it is often referred to as “universal antioxidant”. This means that Lipoic acid can work throughout the body. Antioxidants deplete as soon as they attack free radicals, but proof suggests that Alpha-Lipoic acid may help revitalize these other antioxidants resulting in making them reactive. Lipoic Acid is a powerful and natural antioxidant.

Antioxidants are often used as ingredients in dietary supplements. These have also been investigated for the prevention of diseases such as cancer, altitude sickness and coronary heart disease. Even though preliminary studies recommended that antioxidant supplements might endorse health; however, later large clinical trials recommended instead that excess supplementation may be harmful. High doses of the supplement containing Lipoic acid is often taken by bodybuilders, athletes and by those undergoing treatment for AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). This antioxidant helps to split down and dissolve toxic substances circulating in the liver. It also helps neutralizing free radicals in the body, which can reduce the risk of ailments and prevent certain types of cancer. In addition to the use of these natural antioxidants in medicine, they are also used for many industrial purposes, such as preventing the degradation of gasoline & rubber and these are also used as preservatives in food and cosmetics.

In the last few years, the number of people seeking liver transplantation for hepatitis C has been increased and the count is rapidly going up. There is no effective and reliable treatment for chronic hepatitis C since antivirals and interferon work no more than 30 percent of the time, and liver transplant surgery is tentative and uncertain over the long run. This is because, eventually, residual hepatitis C viremia infects the new liver. In addition to this liver transplantation can be disabling, painful and extremely expensive.

A conservative triple antioxidant approach to the treatment of hepatitis C. Combination of Alpha-Lipoic acid (Thioctic acid), Selenium and Silymarin: 3 case histories.

Efficacious and low cost treatment program in three patients with portal hypertension, cirrhosis and esophageal varices secondary to chronic hepatitis C infection is described in the case history. This efficacious and conventional regimen combines 3 potent antioxidants (Alpha-Lipoic acid (Thioctic acid), Selenium and Silymarin) that possess antiviral, free radical reducing and immune boosting qualities. These substances protect the liver from free radical damage, increase the levels of other fundamental antioxidants, and interfere with viral propagation.

The 3 patients followed the triple antioxidant program, recovered speedily and their laboratory values amazingly improved. In addition to this liver transplantation was avoided and the patients get back to their work, feeling healthy and executing their normal activities. One year of the triple antioxidant therapy costs less than $2,000, as compared to that of liver transplant surgery amount i.e. $300,000 a year. It appears sensible to consider conservative triple antioxidant treatment approach prior to liver transplant surgery assessment or during the transplant evaluation process. With the use of this alternative liver transplant surgery can be avoided.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid: A New Cancer Fighter

Several studies have proved that intravenous infusions of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can enhance survival times among terminal cancer patients. Bio-Communications Research Institute’s researchers report on a test tube experiment designed to see if vitamin C actually kills cancer cells in vitro. SW620 human colon cancer cells exposed to various concentrations of vitamin C solutions after being grown in cell cultures. A 2 day treatment with vitamin C at a concentration of 33.7 mM killed 75 % of all cancer cells while a concentration of about 10 mM (200 mg/dL) killed about 50 %. Regrettably, even infusions of up to 60 grams of vitamin C solution in a human volunteer did not result in a analogous level (10 mM) in blood plasma.

It was concluded by the researchers that it may not be possible to kill enough cancer cells by vitamin C infusion. However, they discovered that vitamin-K and, particularly, Lipoic acid were highly efficient in killing colon cancer cells. Use of 10:1 ratio of vitamin C to Lipoic acid had a synergistic effect and this mixture at a concentration of only 4.5 mM killed 50 % of all cancer cells.

The researchers also conclude that it would be practicable to obtain this concentration by intravenous infusion and insist on further work to investigate the use of a combination of Lipoic acid and vitamin C as an anti-cancer agent in humans.

Recommendation:

There is no RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for Lipoic acid, but studies have found that 100 mgs taken twice a day is enough to provide extra free-radical protection throughout the body, and may help in prevention or treatment of lot of health problems, including Stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Glaucoma, Atherosclerosis and HIV infection. Intravenous forms of Lipoic acid are used by many hospitals to treat acute poisoning cases that affect the liver. Alpha-Lipoic acid has been proposed as a treatment for alcohol related liver disease.

Precautions:

• Because of the possible side effects and interactions with medications, it is advisable that dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a physician or a health care provider.

• It is not evident whether or not Lipoic acid is safe for women who are breastfeeding or pregnant, so it is recommended that such women should not take Alpha-Lipoic acid or containing supplements.

• Side effects are usually rare and can include skin rashes.

• Lipoic acid can lower blood sugar levels, so people with hypoglycemia or diabetes should take Lipoic acid only under the supervision of their physician.

• It is suggested that people, who are deficient in Vitamin B1 (thiamine) a condition often related with alcoholism, should not take Alpha-Lipoic acid.

Some natural supplements, prescription medications and drugs may cause an adverse reaction when taken with Lipoic acid. Always consult your physician to find out if there may be any conflicts with supplements or medications that are already circulating in your system. If you are experiencing some side effects after taking Lipoic acid, then it is recommended that stop taking the supplement ALA and immediately consult your doctor.

References:
Androne L, Gavan NA, Veresiu IA, Orasan R. In vivo effect of Lipoic acid on lipid per-oxidation in patients with diabetic neuropathy.
Med Klin (Munich). 1999 Oct, A conservative triple antioxidant approach to the treatment of hepatitis C. Combination of ALA, Silymarin and Selenium.
Casciari, J.J., et al. Cytotoxicity of ascorbate, Lipoic acid, and other antioxidants in hollow fibre in vitro tumours. British Journal of Cancer, Vol. 84, No. 11.


 

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