The Facts About ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid)

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What is lipoic acid?

Alpha lipoic acid is a fatty acid found naturally inside every cell in the body. It’s needed by the body to produce the energy for our body’s normal functions. Alpha lipoic acid converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Other names for it include lipoic acid, thioctic acid, and ALA.

 

Alpha lipoic acid is also an antioxidant, a substance that neutralizes potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals. What makes alpha lipoic acid unique is that it functions in water and fat, unlike the more common antioxidants vitamins C and vitamin E, and it appears to be able to recycle antioxidants such as vitamin C and glutathione after they have been used up. Glutathione is an important antioxidant that helps the body eliminate potentially harmful substances.
Alpha lipoic acid increases the formation of glutathione.

 

Is all ALA the same?

Actually, no. There are two forms of alpha lipoic acid.

R-ALA is the form found naturally occurring within the body and is the biologically active form of alpha lipoic acid.

S-ALA is the unnatural, synthetic byproduct created during the production of alpha lipoic acid.

Nobody sells S-ALA by itself as it isn’t very effective, but you will get S-ALA anytime you purchase ALA. The ALA you buy from nutrition stores is in reality a 50/50 mixture of S-ALA & R-ALA. (though they won’t tell you that) Most companies don’t go through the complicated and expensive process required to purify and remove the synthetic S-ALA from their products. Be aware that unless the bottle specifically states 100% R-ALA, you are only getting a 50/50 blend.

It is important for you to know that R-ALA has been shown time an time again to be up to 12 times as effective as S-ALA. There have been many studies, doctors and researchers who have stated how much more effective R-ALA is.

 

Is ALA Beneficial for Tick Borne Diseases?

Yes! The study (below) is extremely important because it has determined that in the case of rickettsiae endothelial cell infection that ALA doesn’t allow the bacteria to shut down cellular metabolism and this is one of the bacteria’s defense mechanisms, to shut down what is processed into and out of the cell.
Rickettsiae
rickettsii (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) are gram negative rod shaped alphaproeobacteria, just like Bartonella are. Rickettsiae have a propensity to infect endothelial cells, just like bartonella do.
The use of ALA in conjunction with effective antimicrobials greatly increases cellular uptake resulting in killing the cellular infection.
The full study can be seen here.

 

The benefits of R-Lipoic Acid

· R-Lipoic acid is the only form of lipoic acid that your body synthesizes and can safely metabolize.
· R-Lipoic acid is the only form of lipoic acid that is proven to significantly reduce inflammation, an underlying cause of aging.
· R-Lipoic acid is the only form of lipoic acid that is proven to significantly increase your cellular and mitochondrial antioxidant activity for preventing mitochondrial decay. This effectively attenuates the reported increase in oxidative stress with aging.
· R-Lipoic acid is the only form of lipoic acid that is proven to improve memory, reduce brain damage, reverse cognitive dysfunction, and protect the brain from neurodegeneration associated with aging.
· R-Lipoic acid is the only form of lipoic acid that is been proven to significantly increase insulin sensitivity, enhance glucose transport, increase metabolic rate and reduce the gain in body fat from aging.
· R-Lipoic acid is the only form of lipoic acid that is proven to protect body fats against oxidative damage, chelate harmful metals and reverse stress damage in your heart.
· R-Lipoic acid is the only form of Lipoic that is proven to significantly increase or maintain levels of other antioxidants including Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione.
· R-Lipoic acid is the only form of Lipoic acid that is proven to expand total life span.

 

The problems of S-Lipoic acid

· S-Lipoic acid produces different biological actions than R-Lipoic acid that may be undesirable.
· S-Lipoic acid produces limited beneficial effects since it cannot bind with key enzymes.
· S-Lipoic acid is less effective than R-lipoic acid as an antioxidant.
· At high concentrations, S-Lipoic acid inhibits mitochondria metabolism and the antioxidant activity of R-lipoic acid.
· S-Lipoic acid is metabolized in the outer cell membrane. This may interfere with R-Lipoic acid’s ability to penetrate the inner mitochondrial membrane and energy production.
· R-Lipoic acid costs slightly more per unit than alpha-Lipoic acid. But it may be 10 times stronger than regular alpha-Lipoic acid at reducing inflammation, a primary cause of aging. And it is free of the problems from the S-form.

This is a simple explaination of why R-ALA is much more effective than ALA.

 

What Conditions Could Benefit from ALA?

Peripheral Neuropathy (caused by Lyme, Shingles, Thyroid disorders & diabetes)
Alpha lipoic acid is thought to work as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue, enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage.

Brain Function
Alpha lipoic acid can cross the blood-brain barrier, a wall of tiny vessels and structural cells, and pass easily into the brain. It is thought to protect brain and nerve tissue by preventing free radical damage.

Age-Related Conditions
As an antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid can neutralize free radicals which can damage cells. Free radical damage is thought to contribute to aging and chronic illness.

Cataracts
Lipoic acid was found to offer notable protection against cataract formation in an experimental animal model. Scientists believe that lipoic acid may confer this benefit by increasing levels of essential endogenous antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase.

Glaucoma
A study in patients with open-angle glaucoma found that visual function and other measures of glaucoma were improved in a group that received either 75 mg of lipoic acid daily for two months or 150 mg of lipoic acid daily for one month, compared with a control group that received no lipoic acid.

Multiple sclerosis
Investigators found that lipoic acid supplementation improved a variety of inflammatory measures that are associated with the disease. Further evidence also showed that lipoic acid supplementation produced improvements in animals suffering from an experimentally induced form of multiple sclerosis.

Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers have identified a series of mechanisms through which lipoic acid may work in helping prevent or manage Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists believe that lipoic acid may increase the production of acetylcholine, an essential nervous system messenger that is deficient in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease victims.

Diabetes & Diabetic neuropathy
According to a just-released review of experimental studies, lipoic acid can help relieve several components of metabolic syndrome—a constellation of risk factors that often precedes full-blown types 2 diabetes. This review revealed that lipoic acid reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance, improves the lipid profile, and reduces weight. Scientists are encouraged by lipoic acid’s potential as a therapeutic agent for individuals with metabolic syndrome.
It has been found effective in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that occurs as a result of the toxic effects of high glucose levels on the nervous system in diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy is characterized by numbness, tingling, and pain best described as “burning” in the extremities.

Metal Chelation
Lipoic acid may also protect the body against toxic metal contaminants found in the environment and food supply. This multifunctional agent works by chelating these dangerous agents, such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury and rendering them inactive so that they can be removed by the body. In animal studies, lipoic acid has been shown to provide protection against arsenic poisoning and to safeguard the liver against the effects of cadmium exposure. Another study also showed that lipoic acid helped protect the delicate nervous system against the harmful effects of mercury poisoning.

Migraine Prevention
Preliminary evidence suggests that lipoic acid could offer welcome relief for migraine sufferers. When a group of these individuals received a supplement of 600 mg of lipoic acid each day for three months, the frequency and intensity of their migraines declined modestly, and they also reported suffering fewer headache days.

Cardiovascular Defense
Lipoic acid’s powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-lowering capabilities make it an ideal, multi-targeted nutrient for reducing cardiovascular risk. Lipoic acid helps protect the endothelium, the delicate, one-cell-thick lining of blood vessels. Additionally, lipoic acid improves blood vessels’ ability to relax, helping to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and reduce risk for cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

Anti-Cancer Mechanisms
Cancer scientists are growing increasingly interested in lipoic acid because cancer cells offer many targets for its anti-inflammatory attributes. These attributes allow lipoic acid to intervene at multiple points in the chain of carcinogenesis. In experimental studies, lipoic acid shows promise against cancers of the blood (leukemia), lung, breast, and liver. Preliminary research indicates that lipoic acid acts to halt the cell reproductive cycle of cancer cells, slowing or stopping tumor growth. Lipoic acid may also help induce apoptosis, the programmed cell death that is the body’s natural control mechanism for weeding out nascent cancers. Lipoic acid also protects against chemical-induced DNA damage that can lead to cancerous transformation. Lipoic acid may help prevent metastatic cancer spread by reducing activity of enzymes that tumors use to invade tissues.

Acne
Rosacea
Weight loss
Vitligo
Skin aging
Grey hair
Tinnitus
Restless leg syndrome
Gastroparesis
Hepatitis C
Protection Against Oxidative Stress

High cholesterol
High blood pressure
Tinnitus

The benefits of ALA are too numerous to cover in this post. As you can see there could be volumes written on this subject. If you are suffering with any tick borne infection it is definitely worth looking in to.

*** Remember to always check with your Dr before taking anything new, and check for any interactions with your current medications***

 

Sources:

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/alphalipoicacid/a/alphalipoicacid.htm

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Mickie Stacey is the founder of Stop the Lyme Lies; a patient advocacy and information website for Lyme & MSIDS (Multisystemic Infectious Diseases Syndrome). She holds a BA (Hons) Arts & Humanities degree and is also a qualified Naturopathic Nutritionist. Mickie freelances for several online publications. When she’s not writing she enjoys printmaking and spending time with her family.

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