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Lipoic Acid
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Lipoic Acid Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

Therapeutic Uses

Lipoic acid has been widely used for decades in Germany to treat diabetic peripheral neuropathy . This is a condition caused by diabetes in which nerves leading to the arms and legs become damaged, resulting in numbness, pain, and other symptoms. Free radicals are hypothesized to play a role in neuropathy, and, on this basis, lipoic acid has been tried as a treatment. However, the evidence for benefit is largely limited to studies that used the intravenous form of this supplement. 1 Another set of nerves may become damaged in diabetes, as well: the autonomic nerves that control internal organs. When this occurs in the heart (cardiac autonomic neuropathy), it leads to irregularities of heart rhythm. There is some evidence that lipoic acid supplements may be helpful for this condition. 2 Preliminary and sometimes contradictory evidence suggests that lipoic acid may improve other aspects of diabetes, including blood sugar control and the development of long-term complications, such as diseases of the heart, kidneys, and small blood vessels. 3 Mixed evidence exists for the benefits of lipoic acid in the treatment of burning mouth syndrome (BMS) , a condition characterized by unexplained scalding sensations in the mouth. 4 Weak evidence hints that use of lipoic acid might help prevent migraine headaches . 5 A cream containing 5% lipoic acid has shown promise for the treatment of sun-damaged skin . 6 One animal study suggests that lipoic acid might help prevent age-related hearing loss. 7 Similarly weak evidence hints that lipoic acid might be helpful for glaucoma, 8 as well as for reducing the side effects (specifically, cardiac toxicity) of the cancer chemotherapy drug doxorubicin . 9 Other uses for which lipoic acid has been proposed include preventing cancer and heart disease , and treating or preventing cataracts .


  1. Ziegler D, Hanefeld M, Ruhnau KJ, et al. The ALADIN III Study Group. Treatment of symptomatic diabetic polyneuropathy with the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid: a 7-month multicenter randomized controlled trial (ALADIN III Study). Diabetes Care. 1999;22:1296-1301.
  2. Ziegler D, Gries FA. Alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of diabetic peripheral and cardiac autonomic neuropathy. Diabetes. 46 Suppl 2():S62-6.
  3. Jacob S, Henriksen EJ, Schiemann AL, Simon I, Clancy DE, Tritschler HJ, Jung WI, Augustin HJ, Dietze GJ. Enhancement of glucose disposal in patients with type 2 diabetes by alpha-lipoic acid. Arzneimittelforschung. 45(8):872-4.
  4. Femiano F, Scully C. Burning mouth syndrome (BMS): double blind controlled study of alpha-lipoic acid (thioctic acid) therapy. J Oral Pathol Med. 31(5):267-9.
  5. Magis D, Ambrosini A, Sándor P, Jacquy J, Laloux P, Schoenen J. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of thioctic acid in migraine prophylaxis. Headache. 47(1):52-7.
  6. Beitner H. Randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind study on the clinical efficacy of a cream containing 5% alpha-lipoic acid related to photoageing of facial skin. Br J Dermatol. 149(4):841-9.
  7. Seidman MD, Khan MJ, Bai U, Shirwany N, Quirk WS. Biologic activity of mitochondrial metabolites on aging and age-related hearing loss. Am J Otol. 21(2):161-7.
  8. Filina AA, Davydova NG, Endrikhovskiĭ SN, Shamshinova AM. [Lipoic acid as a means of metabolic therapy of open-angle glaucoma] Vestn Oftalmol. 111(4):6-8.
  9. Balachandar AV, Malarkodi KP, Varalakshmi P. Protective role of DL alpha-lipoic acid against adriamycin-induced cardiac lipid peroxidation. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2003;22:249-254.


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