Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a naturally occurring fat and water-soluble antioxidant. It is considered a “universal antioxidant” since it demonstrates antioxidant function as well as contributes to the production of other important antioxidants such as glutathione and several vitamins. ALA is essential for cell metabolism through the mitochondria (power sources of cells). ALA contributes to cellular energy production by turning the nutrients from our food into energy.
Researchers are investigating it as a potential treatment for stroke and other brain problems involving free radical damage, such as dementia and because ALA can pass easily into the brain, it may help protect the brain and nerve tissue.
Studies also support that ALA helps lower blood sugar levels. It improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar, helping diabetics by aiding in damaged nerves and arteries. ALA has been used for years to treat peripheral neuropathy in Germany. Its ability to eliminate free radicals may help people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, who have pain, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness in arms and legs from nerve damage.
Intramuscular injections allow for higher doses of ALA to be administered, and some research found that higher oral doses may have an anti-cancer effect. ALA triggers mitochondrial respiration, which could contribute to cancer cell death, although the exact mechanism for this effect is not known – studies are promising.