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Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) may help to treat liver damage caused by poisoning from alcohol, mushrooms, heavy metals and carbon tetrachloride (1) and nerve damage caused by diabetes (2,3,4, 5). ALA helps to convert glucose into energy. It lowers blood sugar levels. High intravenous doses help to reduce the burning, itching, tingling, and numbness of nerve damage in diabetics. Lower doses taken by mouth are not as effective. ALA is found in red meat, liver, and yeast.

Side effects: If taken with medications to treat diabetes, ALA may cause low blood sugar levels. It may lower levels of thyroid hormone. A German study reports that six months of lipoic acid causes vitamin B12 deficiency that can cause nerve damage (6). See report #D222.

1)Mitsui Y , Schmelzer JD , Zollman PJ , Mitsui M , Tritschler HJ , Low PA Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA. J Neurol Sci 1999 Feb 1;163(1):11-6.

2)Borcea V , Nourooz-Zadeh J , Wolff SP , Klevesath M , Hofmann M , Urich H , Wahl P , Ziegler R , Tritschler H , Halliwell B , Nawroth PP .Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Heidelberg, Germany. Free Radic Biol Med 1999 Jun;26(11-12):1495-500.

3)Kishi Y , Schmelzer JD , Yao JK , Zollman PJ , Nickander KK , Tritschler HJ , Low PA .Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA. Diabetes 1999 Oct;48(10):2045-51.

4) Diabetic neuropathy: clinical and experimental progress in its pathogenesis and treatment] Maeda K , Yasuda H Third Department of Medicine, Shiga University of Medical Science. Nippon Rinsho 1999 Mar;57(3):578-83.

5) Future prevention and treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Tomlinson DR Department of Pharmacology, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, UK. . Diabetes Metab 1998 Nov;24 Suppl 3():79-83.

6) M Siepmann, W Kirch. Decreases lipoic acid serum levels of vitamin B-12?. Aktuelle Neurologie, 2000, Vol 27, Iss 1, pp 33-35.

Checked 1/20/10

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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