Researchers are excited about its therapeutic potential; it is now used successfully to treat diabetes and its complications.
A little known vitamin-like substance called alpha-lipoic acid or lipoic acid is making a name for itself on two fronts: as the "ideal antioxidant" and as a treatment for diabetes. Researchers are excited about its therapeutic potential which they have just begun to explore - in a number of other areas as well. Alpha-lipoic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body. It is essential in the production of cellular energy.
Lipoic acid is a very effective antioxidant for several reasons. We know that antioxidants, which include vitamins C and E and the carotenoids, are of major significance in preventing many diseases, including cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. Antioxidants work by attacking free radicals. These free radicals are the result of various biological and environmental processes; they roam throughout the body and exert destructive effects on the cells, thereby causing disease. Antioxidants "mop up" the damage done in our bodies by free radicals.
Lipoic add appears to be superior to the other antioxidants. It destroys both water-soluble and fat soluble free radicals; other antioxidant are effective against one or the other. Furthermore, lipoic add promotes a synergistic action among all the antioxidants. It helps thebody to "recycle and renew" other antioxidants and vitamins, making them work more effectively and extending their metabolic lifetimes.
In addition to its antioxidant benefits, lipoic acid has received a great deal of attention in the last few years as a treatment for diabetes. It has been approved in Germany, where it has undergone clinical trials for treating diabetes and diabetic complications It works by reducing glycation, which is the initial pathological event that leads to diabetic complications, such as blindness, peripheral neuropathy, and kidney and heart damage. In a large research study, it was confirmed that high doses (600 mg.) daily will improve glucose utilization and blood sugar control in type 11 diabetics. So effective is it that those diabetics taking insulin or other medication for diabetes, may have to lower the dosage if they begin supplementation with lipoic acid.
In laboratory experiments on mice, researchers have ascertained that lipoic acid may prevent the damage that occurs to the brain with a stroke or to the heart after a heart attack. In other tests on mice, lipoic add has been shown to affect brain function; large doses improved their long-term memory.
Lipoic has been utilized in treatment of AIDS, and may have beneficial effects as a therapy for liver cirrhosis heavy metal toxicity, detoxification support, and as an energy enhancer.
Lipoic acid is found in red meat, especially liver, and yeast. To work as an antioxidant, lipoic acid must be present in higher quantities than are normally found in the body, so it is necessary to take it as a supplement. For antioxidant benefits, the recommend dosage is 20 to 50 mgs.
[an excerpt from "Cardiovascular Wellness," The Newsletter of Dr. F. Vagnini, (5:6)
Dr. Vagnini is a Cardiac/Thoracic Surgeon, who after 25 years of conventional medical practice, expanded his expertise to include Preventive Medicine and Clinical Nutrition.
He hosts a popular radio program, the Heart Show, airing from 4-5 pm, Sunday, on WOR Radio. He has also developed a cutting-edge line of nutritional s