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Alpha-lipoic acid (1,2-Dithiolane-3-pentanoic acid)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 1,2-Dithiolane-3-valeric acid, acetate replacing factor, ALA, Alipure®, alpha lipoate, 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.

Background

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is made naturally in the body and may protect against cell damage in a variety of conditions. Food sources rich in alpha-lipoic acid include spinach, broccoli, and yeast.
  • ALA, known as the "universal oxidant," has been used for decades in Europe to treat nerve conditions, including nerve damage resulting from poorly controlled diabetes.
  • There is strong evidence that ALA may help treat type 2 diabetes and neuropathy. According to a survey of 685 herbalists, ALA was one of the 10 most frequently recommended dietary supplements due to its efficacy in reducing high blood sugar levels.
  • ALA appears to be generally well tolerated, with minimal adverse effects.
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Evidence

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Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. 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. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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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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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.