Test project (Alpha lipoic acid for diabetes)
What is alpha lipoic acid?
Alpha lipoic acid is a vitamin-like chemical that your body needs to help produce energy. People also refer to it as ALA, Biletan, Acetate Replacing Factor, Lipoicin, and Thioctan among others.
Wondering what are the sources of alpha lipoic acid? Well, if you regularly eat foods such as spinach, broccoli, potatoes, yeast, and organ meats such as liver and kidney, then your body has a healthy supply of this naturally-occurring fatty acid. Not much of a vegetable and organ-meat eater? You can also take ALA in supplement form since it is also produced in laboratories and sold in drugstores.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when a person’s blood glucose, or blood sugar, is too high. When your body produces little or no insulin, or does not use insulin well, glucose has a hard time reaching the cells and remains in your blood instead.
Types of diabetes
There are three common types of diabetes which require daily management:
• Type 1 diabetes results when the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas preventing it from making insulin. Although it can develop at any age, it most often develops in teenagers and children which is why it is also called juvenile diabetes.
• Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use insulin well and is the most common type of diabetes. Most people after the age of 35 develop this type of diabetes which is why it is also called adult onset diabetes. However, the younger generation is now developing this type of diabetes, probably because of their mismanaged food intake.
• Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women and when not managed properly can sometimes lead to type 2 diabetes.
How does alpha lipoic acid help people with diabetes?
Diabetes can cause a lot of discomfort and pain. If you have been experiencing burning sensation, pain, and numbness in the legs and arms, alpha lipoic acid might be able to offer you some relief. A lot of people use alpha lipoic acid (ALA) as an alternative remedy to ease the pain associated with diabetic polyneuropathy, which is the most common form of neuropathy in people who have diabetes.
Pain relief in diabetic polyneuropathy
Polyneuropathy causes the peripheral nerves to degenerate and spreads toward the center of the body. Unfortunately, this type of nerve damage is permanent and comes with symptoms such as foot and leg pain.
Although pain symptoms of peripheral neuropathy occur mostly in the feet and legs, people with diabetes also experience them in the hands and arms. Aside from pain, they also experience:
• numbness and lack of sensitivity to changes in temperature
• tingling or burning sensation
• weakness in the muscles
• loss of balance
• cramps or sharp pains
• foot problems that include ulcers and infections
• sensitivity to touch
If you are thinking of taking ALA, you will be glad to know that clinical studies and research backs up its effectiveness in dealing with diabetic neuropathy. Results show that a 5-week oral treatment with ALA improved neuropathic symptoms and deficits in patients with Distal Symmetric Polyneuropathy (DPS) (Study 1).
ALA helps lower blood sugar
Blood sugar, or glucose, comes from the food that you eat. It is the main sugar that is found in your blood and your body’s main source of energy. Your blood carries glucose to all of your body’s cells to use for energy. Without glucose, your body cannot produce energy.
People suffering from diabetes have abnormally high amounts of blood sugar in their body. This injures the nerves which when left untreated can be fatal.
How does alpha lipoic acid help? An eight-week randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted in Type 2 diabetic patients showed that taking 300 mg of lipoic acid per day lowered their fasting blood sugar levels (Study 2).
Another research study published in 2011 also showed that Type 2 diabetes patients who are treated with alpha lipoic acid resulted in lower fasting blood glucose levels and lower postprandial plasma glucose levels (Study 3).
ALA increases insulin sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas. It helps manage the nutrients absorbed from the food you eat and controls the consumption of blood sugar and carbohydrate. With a normal insulin sensitivity level, your body can effectively utilize carbohydrates and correctly determine how much insulin needs to be released in order to deposit a healthy amount of glucose in your blood.
People with diabetes have low insulin sensitivity. Since alpha lipoic acid can protect cells and neurons involved in hormone production, this helps people with diabetes improve insulin sensitivity and lower their blood sugar levels.
According to a study, alpha lipoic acid can improve the body’s ability to absorb and convert sugar into energy in Type 2 diabetes mellitus. The results showed that short-term oral ALA treatment increases insulin sensitivity in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (Study 4).
A powerful antioxidant organic compound
Antioxidants are substances that prevent or delay some types of cell damage and are naturally found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables. Some people opt to take them in form of dietary supplements to ensure that they have a regular dosage even if they skip meals.
Alpha lipoic acid is a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant which can be absorbed by all areas of your body. Since it is a potential natural method for relieving nerve pain that occurs due to diabetes, your blood glucose can be lowered which in turn protects your nerves from further damage.
A previous study has shown that the antioxidant properties of lipoic acid at the dose of 600 mg per day is beneficial for the nerves and neuropathy in Type 2 diabetic patients(Study 5). Another study also showed that ALA significantly improved the condition of patients with early neuropathic deficits and symptoms in clinical practice (Study 6).
Relief from diabetes at your fingertips
If you are looking for a therapeutic option for diabetic neuropathy, alpha lipoic acid can prove to be invaluable. When compared to currently licensed analgesic drugs, ALA proved to be fast-acting and showed better tolerance.
Alpha lipoic acid can be taken as oral supplements and is also available in intravenous (IV) form. It is continuously being studied for its effect on the complications of diabetes. An assessment of treatments conducted in 2016 for symptoms of diabetic neuropathy which included 2 studies of oral alpha lipoic acid also indicated its beneficial effects (Study 7).