Alpha Lipoic Acid: Possible Treatment for Neuropathy in Type 2 Diabetes

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) can simply be described as insulin resistance along with pancreatic cell dysfunction. It is expected to affect even more people by the year 2030; an estimated 400 million. Even today, with all the advancements in treatments, it still remains extremely challenging to keep blood sugar levels in control. Reasons for this may be the fact that medication regimens given to patients are just too overwhelming. Many individuals are now turning to integrative medicine and natural therapies to help with controlling this disease.

Micronutrients and how they benefit Type 2 Diabetes

Vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids are all imperative for good health. Not only that, they help with all the systems in the body; glucose control, insulin activity and regulating the glycation of cells. With blood sugar constantly being elevated, this can cause abnormalities and deficiencies within your body. Just by supplementing with certain micronutrients, you may be able to gain control of your health again. Vitamins and minerals such as Chromium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Zinc have been shown to improve lipid and glucose metabolism, stimulate insulin release from pancreatic B- cells, aid in synthesis, storage and release of insulin and also prevent further retinopathy and nephropathy.

Alpha Lipoic Acid & Neuropathy in Type 2 Diabetes

Alpha Lipoic acid (ALA) is an important antioxidant that is made by the body and found in all of your cells. It helps turn glucose into energy and helps lower blood sugar levels. It has been shown to improve blood flow to the nerves and reduce oxidative stress. ALA is able to banish free radicals, which in turn, aids with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (the numbness, burning, tingling which comes from nerve damage). ALA is found naturally in organ meats such as liver, red meat and brewer’s yeast.

Although ALA has been rigorously studied for quite some time and has been given orally and intravenously, the benefits seem to be better when given intravenously. “Initial investigations including the original ALADIN (Alpha Lipoic Acid in Diabetic Neuropathy) and SYDNEY (Symptomatic Diabetic Neuropathy Trial) trials, focused on treating diabetic neuropathy with IV ALA. Both Studies found that 600mg of IV ALA daily significantly improved symptom severity as compared with placebo when used for a periods of 2-3 weeks”. “These studies prompted additional investigations focusing on the use of oral ALA”. “The Sydney 2 trial compared three different doses of ALA (600mg, 1200mg, and 1800mg daily) against placebo”. “After 5 weeks, all three doses outperformed with near equal improvements in total symptom scores across the different doses”. Not too long ago, a 4 year, randomized, double blind trial of 600 mg of oral ALA daily found significant improvements in neuropathy and also slowed down progression. Both studies had great results using both oral and intravenous (IV), however, IV ALA seems to be absorbed at a better rate and showed significant results within just 2-3 weeks. Oral ALA is still quite beneficial; however, the treatment plan would be more of a long term plan.

Overall, ALA seems to offer the most significant of benefits when compared to other vitamins and minerals. However, this is not to say that diet and lifestyle changes should be ignored. It is still very important to monitor eating habits, get regular exercise and supplement with the appropriate micronutrients when necessary. Never start a plan without consulting you healthcare practitioner first.

 

Haas III, William. “Integrative Therapies for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Micronutrient Supplements.” AHC Media Continuing Medical Education Publishing RSS. AHC Media, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 2 Oct. 2015.

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