7 Studies That Show Benefits Using Alpha Lipoic Acid for Neuropathy

7 Studies That Show Benefits Using Alpha Lipoic Acid for Neuropathy

Alpha-lipoic acid is a very important antioxidant. It is found naturally in a range of different foods, and our bodies produce it as well. In various parts of Europe, high dosage supplements with ALA have been used for a range of different conditions, including neuropathy. This is supported by a wealth of scientific evidence. New studies now also suggest that the antioxidant helps people with type 2 diabetes.

Studies Showing Pain Reduction

Numerous studies have shown that there is a clear link between taking ALA as a supplement and reduced levels of nerve pain. Those studies include:

Alpha lipoic acid: a new treatment for neuropathic pain in patients with diabetes? [1]

In this study, evidence was collected that demonstrated that intravenous injections of 600mg of alpha-lipoic acid ever day for a three week period, lead to a clinically relevant, statistically significant lowering in neuropathic pain. So much so, in fact, that scientists have given it a grade of recommendation A, meaning they recommend that physicians consider it as a treatment option. However, the study was unable to show whether oral administration for a period of three to five weeks, and/or at a level above 600mg per day would lead to a clinically relevant improvement.

Oral Treatment With α-Lipoic Acid Improves Symptomatic Diabetic Polyneuropathy – The SYDNEY 2 trial [2]

In this study, it was found that people who accessed a five week oral course of ALA who suffered from symptomatic diabetic polyneuropathy (DSP) would notice a significant improvement in the presentation of their neuropathic symptoms and in their nerve activity deficits. It appears that the greatest risk-to-benefits ratio is obtained by taking 600mg orally, once per day.

Assessment of the antioxidant effectiveness of alpha-lipoic acid in healthy men exposed to muscle-damaging exercise [3]

This study concluded that taking ALA supplements led to a significant reduction in oxidative damage. It also showed that differences between trained and untrained subjects in their glutathione antioxidant system remained. It seemed to modulate a response that was pro-antioxidant, thereby reducing the damage to muscles caused by exercise.

Effects of 3-month treatment with the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid in diabetic peripheral neuropathy [4]

This study concluded that there was clear evidence of the efficiency of ALA in treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy and that the treatment was completely safe as well. Results showed that nerve conduction velocity and clinical manifestations were clearly improved. That said, scientists are pushing to have placebo controlled trials in place as well so that it can be determined whether it can be used as a medication in treating people who suffer from diabetic neuropathy.

Studies on How Alpha-Lipoic Acid Helps Fight Nerve Damage and Supports Regeneration

Various studies have also shown that there are tremendous benefits offered by ALA in terms of how it supports the regeneration of the nerve system, while fighting new nerve damage at the same time. 

Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Diabetic Neuropathy [5]

This study looked at patients with diabetes and neuropathy, who were all treated with 600mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day for a thee week period. All noticed significant improvements in their numbness, paresthesias, and pain levels. Additionally, a meta-analysis was conducted that looked at a total of 1,258 individual patients, and they noticed that the same 600mg daily also improved neuropathic deficits and symptoms within just a three week period.

The studies also demonstrated that acute ALA infusion helped levels of endothelium-dependent nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation in patients with diabetes. Furthermore, patients with diabetic polyneuropathy also experienced improved microcirculation.

Possible role of alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries [6]

This study used laboratory rats that had a crush injury on their sciatic nerve. Scientists found that if they pre-treated the area with alpha-lipoic acid, its antioxidant effects were clearly noticeable. So much so, in fact, that the scientists concluded that it should be considered in human patients who have injuries to the peripheral nervous system.

The scientists who had completed this study ad also looked at employing ALA and y-linolenic acid and noticed that patients who suffered from compressive radiculopathy syndrome noticed marked improvements in their sensory symptoms and in their neuropathic pain after receiving treatment for a six week period. Specifically, it improved the conflict between the disc and the nerve. Compared to those patients who did not receive the treatment but only took part in rehabilitation, the differences were highly significant.

Pharmacological enhancement of peripheral nerve regeneration in the rat by systemic acetyl-L-carnitine treatment. [7]

This study took an enhanced look at morbidity caused by trauma to the peripheral nerve. This morbidity is believed to be caused by the fact that around 40% of the innervating sensory neurons have died and, once repaired, their regeneration is very slow. By offering ALA through acetyl-A-carnitine (ALCAR), an important physiological peptide, they found that sensory neural death was virtually eliminated in full. Scientists also found that, after primary repair of the nerves, it may improve speed of regeneration as well.

In the study, the impact of ALCAR on regeneration was also studied in cases of secondary nerve repair. In so doing, scientists could determine exactly its impact is on the capacity of the nerve system to regenerate itself. The study offered 1cm repairs on the sciatic nerve through nerve grafts, while also providing patients with 50mg/kg per day of ALCAR. This continued for six weeks, after which harvest would commence.

Quantitative immunohistochemistry was used to determine regeneration distance and area. It showed that providing people with ALCAR treatment resulted in a statistically relevant increase of immunostaining for Schwann cells, which saw a 111% increase in total area and 229% increase in percentage area; and in nerve fibers, which saw a 264% increase in total area and 229% increase in percentage area as compared to those who received no treatment at all.

The study also showed that there was a greatly increased regeneration noticed in the distal stump. In fact, this was a 2242% increase in total area and 3034% increase in the percentage area. The conclusion was that ALCAR greatly increases the capacity of neurons to regenerate themselves after they have survived trauma to the peripheral nerves, while offering neuroprotective effects at the same time.

Reviews from Customers Online

People have been taking ALA supplements for quite some time in this country, mainly because they have been made aware of their benefits from Europeans, where the supplement has long been used as a treatment of neuropathic pain.

People regularly confirm that they have noticed a significant reduction in their pain and tingling sensations, while also increasing their overall levels of well-being. This may be in part due to the fact that living with significant pain has a tremendous impact in people’s overall quality of life.

On WebMD, one reviewer says:

“ALA is magic. This morning my Fasting Blood was 92. My blood sugar 2 hours after eating was 125. Unbelievable. I am taking 300mg ALA, 3x a day, one hour before meals. An hour before I take the ALA I take Pepcid for "protection" of my stomach. I have so much energy! I feel great. I've been on ALA for exactly two weeks. Began with 300mg, 2x a day and increased after a week or so. I take my thyroid medication in the evening. Next office visit I will ask my doctor to monitor my thyroid.” 

On Drugs.com, one reviewer says: 

"I suffer from Neuropathic pain (Neuropathy) for the past 11 years, with severe implications. I've been taking 600mg/day of ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid) for the past 2 years (23 months). I've enjoyed noticeable IMPROVEMENT as I was also treated with HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) in the past year. I keep a daily symptom chart journal. (The HBOT was conducted as a preTrial to find if there's a possibility for improvement/cure of different neuropathies and a reason to conduct a full scale trial.) My improvement started before the HBOT, and increased during. Pain levels are about 35%-40% less than before!"

On Everyday Health, one reviewer says: 

“I've been taking 100 mg of Natrol brand daily. I was thrilled to see my latest A1C results were awesome, and I am convinced it's because of this supplement.”

One iHerb.com, one reviewer says:

“I decided to try ALpha-Lipoic Acid after reading about its potential to help people manage living with Relapsing Remitting MS, as well as, a variety of other chronic health challenges. I selected the Doctor's Best Brand because I know of them to be reputable from previous experience with some of their other products. I was amazed at how quickly I experienced results. This product has helped to reduce MS fatigue. It is also helping to decrease neuropathic pain that I have in one foot. I will definitely keep using it.”

Adverse Side Effects 

While this compound seems to have tremendous benefits, it is important to understand that it has also some side effects in higher dosages, which include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Low blood sugar
  • Weakness
  • Hunger
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling jittery
  • Increased heart rate
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Skin rashes
  • Nausea

If you experience any of these symptoms after taking it, you should stop taking the supplement and seek medical attention. Do bring the bottle with you, so that a physician can investigate what is causing your symptoms.

The Proper Dosage for Neuropathy

Several vegetables that contain the nutrient alpha lipoic acid

It is also important for those who want to take this amazing nutrient for neuropathy to take it at the right dosage. In February of 2004, the journal Diabetic Medicine published a piece of research in which a meta-analysis of available studies and clinical data was made available. Those studies looked specifically at patients who had been treated with alpha-lipoic acid intravenously.

What they found was that 600mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day for a three week period led to a significant improvement in the symptoms associated with diabetic neuropathy. It also found that those who had this treatment did not suffer from side effects.

The Journal Diabetes Care Research Article

Meanwhile, in November 2006, the journal Diabetes Care published a piece of research that looked at a clinical trial in which oral administration of ALA was investigated. This was a multi-centered trial conducted in Israel and in Russia.

Three groups of patients took part who received different dosages of alpha-lipoic acid per day (600mg, 1200mg, 1800mg). Patients received their dosage once per week for five weeks. After this time period, they found that those who took 600mg not only had the best improvements in neuropathy symptoms, but they were also the ones with the fewest side effects, including vertigo, vomiting, and nausea.

In Germany, it is possible to purchase oral formulations. These products are not currently available in the US. Indeed, here, R-ALA is only approved as an OTC (over the counter) dietary supplement. 

What this means is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t yet know how safe or efficient it is for any other treatment. It is very important, as well, that you speak to a physician about whether or not you can take not just it as a dietary supplement, but any other kind of supplement as well.

Best Brands

Because there have been so much research on this compound and because it is readily available in European countries, there are now numerous brands of supplements available on the market. They include, Bronson Laboratories, Country Life, Jarrow Formulas, NOW, Solgar, Vitacost and Nerve Renew.

Our Favorite R-ALA Supplement

The supplement Nerve Renew has a form of R-ALA that has been widely accepted as the best and for good reason. This is a nutritional supplement that has been developed specifically to reduce the symptoms of neuropathy.

Some people who have used it claim they have been cured completely of the condition, but this is rare given the complexity of the condition. The symptoms that it is able to address include burning sensations, tingling, pain, and numbness in the legs, hands, and feet.

Nerve Renew offers a number of other benefits as well, one of which is that it lowers stress and anxiety, improves balance and coordination, and supports and strengthens the linings of the nerves. This is not just a statement by the company, but rather something that has been scientifically proven.

Indeed, the company cites numerous studies for each ingredient, offering sufficient evidence. Additionally, they have made sure that the ingredient levels that were used in the various clinical trials are the same as what they are in the actual product.

Natural Ingredients

The company prides itself on being able to provide 100% natural ingredients only. While the supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA, the company still ensures that all ingredients are tested in the lab for purity and cleanliness. Additionally, they ensure there are no pesticides, heavy metals, or other toxic chemicals included.

The government and the FDA have set a number of standards for each of the ingredients included and the company meets all of those and exceeds them where possible. They also disintegrate and dissolve all the ingredients so that they are more bioavailable and easy to absorb by the body.

Third Party Testing

It is clear that the manufacturers are focused on quality and truly offering a solution to customers. They test each bottle individually and, straight after testing, seal it while also marking it with its own expiration date. This means that those who purchase the supplement are guaranteed to have a fresh, potent product that will last them long enough to have a noticeable impact.

It is interesting to see that science supports the notion that alpha-lipoic acid, which is a completely natural substance, is as effective as what it claims to be. Usually, natural products are seen as much less potent and incapable of working properly.

However, it seems that this belief is incorrect. Those who try the product in particular can also enjoy a 365 day 100% money back guarantee. This ensures they can try for themselves whether they can benefit from it, just like thousands of others have benefited from it so far.

Nerve Renew isn’t the only brand out there, but it is certainly the most recommended. Should you wish to try a different brand instead, make sure you search for one that includes R-Alpha Lipoic Acid, as this is the type that has been proven to be efficient.