Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA), also known as thioctic acid, has been used to treat diabetes-related neuropathies. Since it acts as a free radical scavenger and since complications are thought to be secondary to oxidative stress, ALA may help with polyneuropathy symptoms. The ALADIN trials (Alpha lipoic acid in diabetic neuropathy) have demonstrated improvement in different parameters of neuropathy. These trials have shown a decrease in HbA1c although the results were not significant. Long term trials are necessary to determine whether ALA shows progression of neuropathy versus only improvement of neuropathy symptoms. The Neurological Assessment of Thioctic Acid in Neuropathy Study (NATHAN) is an ongoing multicenter trial in Europe and North America to evaluate the ability of oral ALA to slow progression of neuropathy in diabetes.

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Laura Shane-McWhorter, PharmD, BCPS, FASCP, CDE, BC-ADM
November 24, 2001

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Last Updated: Fri Aug 30 10:33:14 2002
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