Exploring The Benefits Of Using Alpha-Lipoic Acid

What Is Alpha-Lipoic Acid?

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (α-lipoic acid, LA or ALA, also known as ‘thioctic acid’) is a fatty acid necessary for the human organism, a dithiol compound which is a naturally occurring substance in dietary sources (liver, lean meat, spinach), which also may be synthesized in a form of standardized dietary supplement. Also termed α-Linolenic acid (ALA), it is a fatty acid, which cannot be synthesized in the human body, but it has great implications for human health in general. Many Alpha Lipoic Acid benefits are subtle and don’t manifest themselves until rigorous exercise, studying, or general work has begun.

The benefits this substance provides for the human mind and body are well-studied and proven as positive, provided adequate source and dosage. Due to rapid reaction with oxygen (“oxidation”), which changes part of the Alpha-Lipoic Acid present into a conventional diet into useless and even relatively dangerous substances, usually the attempts to get it from a conventional diet in sufficient quantities are not enough for its wide range of health benefits. It helps the restoration of vitamin C in the human body and also regulates the metabolism of sugars essential for life, for a healthy mind and body. ALA is a potent long-term nootropic.

These benefits are mediated primarily through the powerful antioxidant properties of Alpha-Lipoic Acid. While it is available in the diet (liver, lean meat, flaxseed, nuts, spinach, etc.) it is recognized that the intake of this crucial substance is best achieved via supplements. Alpha-Lipoic Acid is soluble both in water and fat and easily and efficiently crosses the blood-brain barrier.

What Neurotransmitter Does This Effect?

Multiple modes of action upon neurotransmitters in the central nervous system (CNS) is proposed by extensive studies on Alpha-Lipoic Acid. Inhibition of AMPK in the hypothalamus (but not other parts of the CNS) causes mild appetite suppression effect, although the individually felt effect may vary.

Interference with glutaminergic complex seems to have an effect on delaying of biological aging of the brain. Higher glutamine concentration in the brain as a response to acute neurotoxic hazard is ameliorated by Alpha-Lipoic Acid. Experiments on animals regarding the effect on another neurotransmitter, dopamine, are showing either marginal or zero influence on its patterns of action. ALA benefits the dopamine pathways, as well as alters transmission between synapses.

Thus, Alpha-Lipoic Acid does not have any appreciable stimulatory/excitatory action nor it causes habit or craving even in very high doses. However, there is a minor increased action of adrenaline collateral to the intake of this substance.


Alpha-Lipoic Acid has a beneficial effect on the body and mind. It is an antioxidant with the ability to provide cell protections from the action of free radicals. High dosages of it are approved in some countries for diabetes-related problems. It also exercises a protective effect in the case of common eye diseases, a set of indications which are medically approved in Germany. It was also found as helpful in diseases of the liver and heart through supplementation of the basic pharmacological therapy focused on the actual pathological state of the aforementioned organs. Alpha Lipoic Acid has been shown in clinical trials to have significant benefits on depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

It improves the function of the healthy brain and markedly improves the symptoms of Alzheimer disease. Furthermore, it can improve the utilization of glucose, an essential sugar that provides energy to the body and its highest consuming organ, the brain. This reflects improved cognitive capability, focus, and delay of mental fatigue. In combination with vitamins in their RDA quantities as well as with another nutritional substance, L-Carnitine, the memory is greatly improved, together with a neuroprotective effect. In studies and medical practice, marked benefits on migraine and stroke prevention are recorded.

In relation to the work of the mind, studies show that Alpha-Lipoic Acid increases the production of the neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine, implied in improved concentration, memory and focus in healthy subjects. Overall health is further pronounced in the specific action that protects against toxic metals, which are a common feature of the atmosphere in industrial urban agglomerations. The cumulative effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid is termed ‘protection from oxidative stress’, a mixture of symptoms affecting a human, as a result of its broad action of antioxidant and neuroprotective nature.

It is held that it may increase nerve regeneration rates secondary to nervous system injury. The combined robust antioxidant, neuroprotective and especially metabolic actions are facilitating directly as well as indirectly a strong effect on cognition, memory and delaying mental fatigue.

Recommended Dosage

The process of intake of Alpha-Lipoic Acid should start with lower doses, in the range from 200mg to 600mg, spread at least three times a day. This initial dose may be increased over the course of several days to a couple of weeks anywhere from 300 mg to 6,000 mg, the larger dose is more efficient in the protection from oxidative stress. Most studies on humans are made with doses ranging from 300mg to 1,800mg. As described, side-effects are rare; however, individual reaction to a large degree determines the appropriate dose.

It should be pointed out that effects on memory and cognition will emerge steadily, but rather slowly. Effects on neurotransmitters coupled with superior utilization of glucose as brain’s metabolic fuel as well as facilitation of better utilization of Vitamin C are each having a role in the improvement of the memory and cognitive process in the context of increased mental performance. Ingested capsules are preferred as a route of consumption.

Side Effects

Neither counter-indication nor interaction with synthetic drugs is referred to so far. Individuals with Diabetes Mellitus should consult their physician about consequences and interaction in case they want to begin a regimen containing Alpha-Lipoic Acid. In healthy individuals, rash and migraine rarely occur as a result of an overdose, which are side-effects that can be corrected by adjusting the dosage to recommended levels.

While no side-effects are known for pregnancy and lactation, the current state of studies on the matter is inconclusive and it is best to avoid the use of Alpha-Lipoic Acid during pregnancy and nursing. Diarrhea and vomiting are a different set of side-effects which are also rare and dosage dependent.

Toxicity in the strict medical term is not established. Moderate supplementation with Vitamin B1 is advisable, especially for long term use of higher doses. Alpha Lipoic Acid benefits far outweigh any minimal side effects that may occur.

Long-Term Use

Among general benefits in healthy individuals, Alpha-Lipoic Acid provides strong neuroprotective effects which slow down the sort of neurodegenerative process seen in aging, whose initial onset start in the late 20s and early 30s. It facilitates and stabilizes the pattern of carbohydrate metabolism, which due to the importance of this process for the entire organism is of crucial significance for wellness and prevention of the decline in bodily strength and vitality as well as the performance of the brain.

Long-term use of this substance which is essential to humans is completely safe. Discrete, but all-pervading beneficial effects on the body and the mind of this essential substance are associated with long-term use. As an antioxidant that prevents free radicals from chronic and cumulative damage to human tissue, Alpha-Lipoic Acid has an effect of protecting the individual from cancerous cells (obviously this is very subtle).

Diabetic neuropathy, a condition that affects the ends of several large nerves and which may cause pain, a feeling of numbness, burning and ‘strokes by pins’ may be counteracted by this substance. Alpha-Lipoic Acid is considered promising in the management of multiple sclerosis. This is likely due to its inhibition of mitochondrial dysfunction followed by oxidation of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, which increase relative brain aging and are thought as the main causes of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson and Huntington diseases

Is Alpha-Lipoic Acid Legal?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. regulatory agency which establishes the legal status of nutritional substances and drugs, has not issued any classification of Alpha-Lipoic Acid. Currently, regardless of the plethora of human and animal studies which show marked health benefits, it is not classified as a cure for any disease.

It has no kind of effect which may cause health problems, whether somatic or psychiatric or others and is generally thought as safe. Obtaining, possessing and using Alpha-Lipoic Acid is legal in the U.S. As Alpha-Lipoic Acid, regardless of the form in which it is taken, is not a ‘recreational drug’, it is not screened for in athletic competitions or in some workplaces that practice drug screening. However, if you plan to obtain Alpha-lipoic acid from abroad, consult all available data on the legal status (prescription drug vs. OTC drug)

Final Thoughts

Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a natural nutritional substance with an essential role in providing a metabolic and neuroprotective function which is, however, quite difficult to consume in sufficient quantity even with a planned diet. Acting towards better utilization of glucose as well as exercising protective action on the brain and peripheral nerves from diseases which are manifest usually in a later age, but whose origin may be traced, at least partially, by bad nutritional and other lifestyle and environmental factors, it provides protection to both the mind and the body. It’s virtually non-existing toxicity even in higher doses is another factor affirming the benefits of its use.

It’s subtle action to a number of neurotransmitters as well as benefits emerging from its positive role on the metabolism secure general wellness, a health-protecting quality that includes anti-neurotoxic properties. While it is not a stimulant, the action of Alpha-Lipoic Acid subtly, yet noticeably improves cognitive function and memory in healthy humans. Supplementation with it, as a substance needed for a proper biological function, means a safe and nature-based fortification of the health of the consumer’s body and mind.

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