Image for Alpha-lipoic acid (1,2-Dithiolane-3-pentanoic acid)
Alpha-lipoic acid (1,2-Dithiolane-3-pentanoic acid)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 1,2-Dithiolane-3-valeric acid, acetate replacing factor, ALA, Alipure®, Alpha Lipoic Sustain® 300, alpha-lipoate, Alpha-lipon 300 Stada®, Berlithion®, Bertilium®, Biletan®, Byodiniral 300 QR, Byodinoral® 300, dexlipotum, DHLA, dihydrolipoic acid, Glucotize™, Lipo-A HR, lipoic acid, Lipoicin®, Liponsäure (German), Thioctacid®, Thioctacid 600 HR®, Thioctacid® T, Thioctamide®, thioctan, Thioctic®, thioctic acid, Thioderm®, Thiogamma® 600, Tiobec®, tioctic acid.
  • Combination product examples: DermaVite™ (alpha-lipoic acid, marine proteins, pine bark extract, vitamins, and minerals), Metabloc™ (hydroxycitrate and alpha-lipoic acid).
  • Note: Alpha-lipoic acid should not be confused with alpha-linolenic acid, which is also abbreviated ALA.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (also known as ALA or alpha-lipoic acid) is an endogenous dithiol antioxidant (1;2) and is naturally synthesized in the body. Experts suggest that, due to its hydrophilic and lipophilic properties, alpha-lipoic acid provides protection from oxidizing processes in a wide range of physiological conditions. It is an essential cofactor for mitochondrial bioenergetic enzymes (2). According to secondary sources, food sources rich in alpha-lipoic acid include spinach, broccoli, and yeast (particularly brewer's yeast).
  • There is promising evidence that alpha-lipoic acid may help treat type 2 diabetes and neuropathy. Also, according to secondary sources, the potential antioxidant properties of alpha-lipoic acid suggest that it may offer benefit as adjuvant treatment for conditions in which oxidative damage plays a pathophysiological role. According to one survey of 685 herbalists, alpha-lipoic acid was identified as one of the 10 most frequently recommended dietary supplements due to its efficacy in reducing glycemia (3).
  • Popular uses, with a lack of good scientific evidence (for or against) include liver damage, hepatitis, and Amanita poisoning (a poisonous mushroom that causes liver damage). Conclusions related to other uses of alpha-lipoic acid are lacking due to insufficient evidence. The therapeutic use of alpha-lipoic acid has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or corresponding regulatory agencies of other countries.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid appears to be generally well tolerated, with minimal adverse effects (4;5;6), although adverse events may occur more frequently with alpha-lipoic acid doses of 1,200mg and 1,800mg (6;7). Although the effects of alpha-lipoic acid on blood glucose levels and glucose hemostasis are mixed, with decreases or no effects occurring, alone or in combination with antidiabetic agents (8;9;10;11;12;13;14;15;16;17;18;19;20;21;22;23;24;25;26;27;28;29), alpha-lipoic acid has improved steady state plasma insulin, glucose infusion rate, and insulin sensitivity index (13) and reduced the need for antidiabetic medication, potentially causing short-term hypoglycemia (15) in clinical studies.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.