Alpha Lipoic Acid for Diabetic Neuropathy
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
When it comes to taking care for diabetes, it’s not just keeping the blood sugar levels within the normal ranges, but also managing and preventing critical associated conditions such as diabetic neuropathy, hypertension, and diabetic cardiomyopathy among a lot more other complications that may seriously impact on the quality of life.
Alpha lipoic acid, also known as lipoic acid, is one of the most-studied compounds for treating diabetic neuropathy naturally nowadays. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of diabetic neuropathy and how alpha lipoic acid can help in diabetic neuropathic conditions. So, let’s get started.
What is diabetic neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy typically refers to nerve damage in diabetes, which is a very common and potentially serious associated complication of diabetes.
The most common form of diabetic neuropathy is polyneuropathy which affects the peripheral nerves of the human body and causes severe leg and foot pain. Most nerve damages are permanent and their symptoms can be challenging to reduce.
Types of diabetic neuropathy
Several different types of nerve damages or neuropathies can occur in diabetes, including -
- Peripheral neuropathy – nerve damages occur in the extremities; therefore, numbness with pain may occur in hands, arms, feet, legs, and toes.
- Proximal neuropathy – nerve damages occur in the upper legs, specifically hips, buttocks, and thighs.
- Autonomic neuropathy – nerve damages occur in the autonomic nervous system and affect sweating, sexual response, digestive, and urinary functions.
- Focal neuropathy – sudden weakness and pain in the muscles caused by loss of nerve functionality.
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy
The signs and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy appear gradually over time, sometimes even take decades to show any symptoms of neuropathy. In most cases, the first type of neuropathy to appear involves the nerve cells of the feet.
Though symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may vary depending on the nerves affected, common symptoms include:
- Pain or often numbness in the hands and feet
- Burning or pins like sensation in the feet
- Loss of sensation in the affected area
- Sensitivity to touch
- Weakness of muscles
- Difficulty in coordination while walking
- Indigestion, nausea, or vomiting
- Fullness or bloating
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Dizziness while standing up
- Bladder issues such as incomplete urination
- Excessive or decreased sweating
- Erectile disfunction
- Vaginal dryness
- Rapid heart rate
- Vision problems like double vision
What is alpha lipoic acid?
Alpha lipoic acid is a naturally occurring substance that’s produced in the body. It’s a powerful antioxidant that has a vital role in producing energy at the cellular level.
Alpha lipoic acid or ALA is also found in trace amounts in several food sources such as broccoli, potatoes, brewer’s yeast, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, rice bran, beets, and red meats specifically organ meats like heart and liver.
Benefits of alpha lipoic acid in diabetic neuropathy
The antioxidant properties of alpha lipoic acid can protect nerve cells from damage by neutralizing free radicals that are the major substances for damaging cells in the body. Besides, lipoic acid may lower blood glucose and support the body for being more sensitive to insulin.
ALA is both a fat-soluble as well as a water-soluble antioxidant that can be easily absorbed by all areas of the body, thus, effective in alleviating nerve pain in diabetes.
In diabetic neuropathy, ALA can be helpful for relieving –
Other benefits of alpha lipoic acid
Along with promoting healthy nerve function and preventing nerve cell damages that are often associated with diabetes, as an excellent antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid has many other health benefits. It can reduce skin aging and inflammation, lower the risk factors that develop heart diseases, slow down the process of memory loss disorders.
Besides, alpha lipoic acid has been believed a potential complementary aid in slowing or stopping the damage done by various other medical conditions such as liver disorders and AIDS. It’s also respected as an effective weight loss supplement as it has a vital role in breaking down carbohydrate molecules for producing energy in the process of metabolism.
How to use alpha lipoic acid supplements
Alpha-lipoic acid is available in several different forms such as oral supplements including tablets and capsules, and intravenous versions (IV) for people with diabetes. To administer alpha lipoic acid IV, a healthcare professional is required. However, since IV administration has a certain level of risks, oral supplements are mostly recommended by healthcare professionals as they don’t have any risk of administration.
Since certain foods may interfere with the bioavailability of alpha lipoic acid, it’s better to take ALA supplements on an empty stomach or at least 1 to 2 hours before meals. Though the adequate dosages may vary depending on the purpose and severity of the conditions, most studies suggest that 300 mg to 600 mg is safe and sufficient.
It’s highly recommended to seek the direct supervision of a health care practitioner prior to use alpha lipoic acid supplements especially if you have diabetic neuropathy or are taking any medications.
Possible side effects
Alpha-lipoic acid or ALA is generally safe in low doses. ALA is a natural substance in the body and is required in small quantities. Excessive doses may produce certain adverse effects on the body.
The most common adverse effects of alpha-lipoic acid include –
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rashes
- Nausea or vomiting
Alpha lipoic acid has promising effects in alleviating pain that’s often associated with diabetic neuropathy. But managing blood sugar levels within normal ranges is the key to prevent or reduce diabetic neuropathy and prevention is always the best option.
Considering the potential side effects of prescription pain relievers, that are sometimes even addictive and life-threatening, ALA supplements can be a great alternative treatment option with no or a very few side effects.
Besides, ALA is a potent antioxidant that may help replenish antioxidant levels in the body and help enhance the body’s own detoxifying system and improve overall wellbeing.
But, before choosing any ALA supplement, make sure the product is pure and natural and doesn’t have any artificial additives, dairy substances, glutens, and yeasts.
Disclaimer - This article contains only generic information for educational purposes, and cannot be used to treat, diagnose, or cure any medical conditions.