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The Health Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant found naturally in the body, and it has been gaining popularity recently as a supplement for its potential health benefits. It has been used to treat diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, cancer, liver disease, aging, and more. 

Being such a powerhouse substance in both the cosmetic and medical world, it only makes sense that alpha lipoic acid has made a name for itself.

What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

ALA is a fatty acid that can be found in every cell in the body. As an antioxidant, it is part of a group that helps to remove waste products (free radicals) that are made when the body turns what we eat into energy. While it can be found in foods like organ meats, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes, supplemental ALA can provide up to 1,000 times more of it than food sources can.

While its primary purpose is to help the body produce energy, ALA has been shown to have many other health benefits.

What is Alpha Lipoic Acid good for?

From diabetes to neurological diseases, many alpha lipoic acid benefits have been studied and it is thus used for a variety of medical issues. It has additionally been studied for its potential anti-aging and skin care benefits. A few of the more extensively researched benefits include:

Lower blood sugar levels

Alpha lipoic acid has been studied for its potential to help lower blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. It is thought to do this by ameliorating the oxidative mechanisms involved in diabetic complications. Other animal studies showed that ALA can lower blood sugar levels by up to 64%. Of course, while it shouldn’t be marketed as a solution for high blood sugar levels or diabetes, it can certainly be used as an adjunctive treatment with caution. 

Reduce inflammation

By decreasing inflammatory markers in the body, ALA has been shown to reduce inflammation and help treat an array of chronic diseases. It does this by scavenging free radicals and lowering, among other markers, levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) – an inflammation marker linked to harmful diseases such as cancer.

Help with neurodegenerative diseases

Alpha lipoic acid is shown to have a neuroprotective effect that could be therapeutic for those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Due to the tissue-specific mechanisms of ALA, it prevents damage to the neurons and promotes neurotransmitters, working to aid the nervous system as a whole.

Lower heart disease risk factors

Supplementing with ALA could have positive effects on heart disease risk factors. A meta-analysis of studies found that it had the potential to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower triglycerides. Another study demonstrated that ALA, alongside an antioxidant diet, can improve endothelial dysfunction – where blood vessels are unable to dilate properly. This issue can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Fight signs of aging

Topical ALA has been shown to be efficient in reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and skin texture. Not only that, it can also offer antioxidant protection for the skin by incorporating itself into the deeper layers of the skin. It can consequently raise certain antioxidant levels to reduce signs of aging and prevent the possibility of skin damage.

Ways to supplement with ALA

There are two primary ways to supplement with alpha lipoic acid: through injection and supplementation. 

Injectable ALA

Injectable ALA has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it is quickly absorbed into the body and can be used as an adjunctive treatment for a variety of medical issues. It’s important to note that injectable ALA should only be administered by a properly trained healthcare professional under strict guidelines.

Supplemental ALA

The other way to supplement with ALA is through supplementation. Available in capsule, powder, and tablet form, it can usually be found at most health food stores or online retailers. Formulations typically range from 100 milligrams to 600 milligrams, and it is recommended to start with a lower dose and work your way up.

Conclusion

For clinic owners, adding ALA to your portfolio of treatments could provide you with an additional service offering that your patients may benefit from. Its plethora of potential benefits make it a great addition to any clinic, and its availability in both injectable and supplement forms allows you to tailor your treatments to the individual needs of each patient. Whether you are looking to offer a new treatment option or want to stay up-to-date with the latest health trends, ALA is worth considering.

Taylor Froiland is the president of Legere Pharmaceuticals in Scottsdale, Arizona and serves on the Board of Directors for RK Logistics Group. He also owns and operates Medmetrics Compounding Pharmacy in Chandler, Arizona, specializing in various pharmaceutical services. Taylor holds a PharmD and has expertise in compounding, medicinal chemistry, and quality control.
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