Used as a treatment for peripheral neuropathy in Europe for years, alpha-lipoic acid can protect nerve cells from further damage and assist in the repair of damaged nerve cells.
Discuss its use with your doctor because it may affect blood sugar levels. Other side effects may include stomach upset and skin rash.
Recommended doses may vary from 600 mg to 1200 mg per day.
Researchers in the Netherlands (1) found over a course of time, “Significant improvements in diabetic peripheral neuropathy symptoms were found with opioids, botulinum toxin A, mexidol, reflexology and Thai foot massage, but not with micronutrients, neurotrophic peptide ORG 2677 and photon stimulation therapy.”
Researchers from Italy (2) concluded in their study that, “Neuropathic patients who have used this dietary supplement noticed an improvement in their quality of life and a significant reduction was observed in a number of certain descriptive pain parameters (intensity, burning, unpleasantness, superficial pain).”
A four year study (3) proved “Better outcome in neuropathic impairments following 4-year treatment with α-lipoic acid was predicted by normal BMI and blood pressure and higher burden due to CVD, diabetes, and neuropathy, while improvement in cardiac autonomic function was predicted by ACE inhibitor treatment. Thus, optimal control of CVD risk factors could contribute to improved efficacy of α-lipoic acid in patients with higher disease burden.”
A review by a group from Qatar (4) noted, “A number of pathogenetic treatments have been evaluated in phase III clinical trials, including α-lipoic acid (stems reactive oxygen species formation), benfotiamine (prevents vascular damage) and aldose-reductase inhibitors (reduce flux through the polyol pathway), protein kinase C inhibitors (prevent hyperglycaemia-induced activation of protein kinase C), nerve growth factors (stimulate nerve regeneration) and Actovegin® (improves tissue glucose and oxygen uptake). However, none have gained US Food and Drug Administration or European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval, questioning the validity of current trial designs and the endpoints deployed to define efficacy.”
“Alpha-lipoic acid is a valuable therapeutic option for diabetic neuropathy. When compared with currently licensed analgesic drugs, it is better tolerated, has a more rapid onset of action, and improves paraesthesiae, numbness, sensory deficits, and muscle strength in addition to neuropathic pain. In clinical practice, alpha-lipoic acid may be chosen in patients with early neuropathic deficits and symptoms, in whom clinical improvement is more likely,” was the conclusion reached by researchers in Greece.
Alpha-lipoic acid research studies
- Systematic review of treatments for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Diabetic Medicine 2016 Jan 29. doi: 10.1111/dme.13083
- Increasing bioavailability of (R)-alpha-lipoic acid to boost antioxidant activity in the treatment of neuropathic pain.
Acta Bio Medica 2015 Dec 14;86(3):226-33
- Predictors of improvement and progression of diabetic polyneuropathy following treatment with α-lipoic acid for 4 years in the NATHAN 1 trial.
Journal of Diabetes And Its Complications 2015 Nov 10. pii: S1056-8727(15)00437-7.
- Burning through the pain: treatments for diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism 2015 Dec;17(12):1115-25.
- Efficacy of α-lipoic acid in diabetic neuropathy.
Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy 2014 Dec;15(18):2721-31.