You've probably been suffering from neuropathic pain for more than you're willing to admit. And when it finally became overpowering, you went to the doctors only to find that they could do little to help.
Or worse, you were given some nerve pain relief soothe cream ,pain relief medications and realized that they had side effects that could further prevent you from leading a normal life.
So, you decided to take matters into your own hands.
And in your search, you found something that could alleviate nerve pain. This quest led you directly to alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), but you're not really sure what it is and how it can help.
Fortunately, this article is going to break down what this acid is and explore the acid's key components to help you understand why it's useful for nerve pain treatment.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant similar to vitamins. While it's commonly found in potatoes, spinach, liver, and broccoli, it could also be synthesized in lab conditions to create alpha-lipoic medicine.
ALA works by preventing cell damage and it's also known to improve levels of vitamins C and E. Studies also show that it can lessen the effects of nerve damage brought about by diabetes, so it may minimize the symptoms of diabetes-induced neuralgia.
The acid is so effective at reducing nerve pain that Germany, in particular, approved high doses for medical treatment.
With these, ALA has become common in nerve pain treatment, particularly with diabetics. Other than that, it can also help with maintaining the right cholesterol levels and dealing with secondary symptoms of obesity.
Additionally, its antioxidant properties could be helpful with a range of liver conditions. It may also protect the brain after an injury or damage.
However, you should know that there are two isomers (forms) of alpha-lipoic acid.
The R isomer form of the acid, which is produced naturally in the body, is the active component. This means that the R isomer gives the acid its antioxidant properties.
Studies show that it can significantly lessen the body's inflammatory response. But how does the R-alpha-lipoic acid do it?
First, this isomer boosts antioxidant activity at the cellular level. In other words, it helps your cells suffer less stress, particularly the cellular stress that comes with aging.
Additionally, R-ALA improves metabolic functions and reduces the chances of fat gain. Plus, it minimizes fat damage from oxidation, which helps prevent heart damage.
And there's more.
R-ALA helps insulin-resistant cells to receive enough glucose. Because of this, it can be said that the isomer has insulin-like properties.
Lastly, it's interesting how studies revealed that R isomer can also help you keep fat gain in check. It's because the acid improves the metabolic functions in your body, allowing you to absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Now, what about the S isomer?
Unfortunately, this variety isn't as biologically active as the R form and it has to be created under lab conditions.
Supplements with alpha-lipoic acid usually contain both isomers at a ratio of 50/50. For example, if you take a supplement that contains 100mg ALA, you'll be ingesting 50mg of the active form, with the other 50mg of S-ALA boosting its effectiveness.
The quick answer is yes, ALA can help with nerve pain. And the key lies in its amazing antioxidant properties.
For one, the acid boosts the production of glutathione, which is one of the antioxidants that gets reduced as a result of neuropathic damage. Antioxidants help alleviate nerve pain, so the increase in glutathione can lessen the pain you experience.
Even better, human trials have shown that taking 600mg of ALA for a few weeks can significantly reduce neuropathic pain. How?
With the increase in glutathione.
The fact is that the cells of a diabetic patient may be under too much oxidative stress, so the body wrongly programs the nerve cells to die. That triggers the numbing and tingling sensation at the start, which can turn into severe pain later on.
But when ALA treatment increases the production of glutathione, the two chemicals work together to reprogram your body. They look for the free radicals that cause oxidative stress and eradicate them.
It's worth pointing out that diabetics are more prone to oxidative stress due to high glucose levels. The condition triggers glycation - a process during which sugars attach to lipids and proteins and affect their function.
In other words, high sugar attacks the enzymes in your body that fight off free radicals. That stops the normal growth and regeneration of nerve cells, which then exacerbates the problem.
The great news is that ALA can help nerves grow normally. Plus, it boosts the regeneration capacity of different fibers in the body.
Of course, this doesn't only apply to diabetics but to anybody with peripheral neuropathy.
The point is that ALA restarts normal metabolic functions between the bloodstream and the nervous system. And once the body and metabolism are back to the normal balance of enzymes, the pain subsides and nerve cells begin to rejuvenate.
You already know that ALA can help with diabetes, fat gain, and nerve pain. But there are other auxiliary benefits that may surprise you.
According to research, oxidative stress is a top cause of memory loss. And the problem could be worse for older people and diabetics.
But since ALA is such a powerful antioxidant, it can slow down or even stop memory loss altogether.
In fact, a recent study showed that ALA benefits Alzheimer's patients. While it doesn't completely stop or reverse the nerve damage, it certainly slows down the progression of the disease.
However, further research is necessary to determine how ALA can be used for memory loss treatment.
Chronic inflammation can cause nerve pain, even if you don't have diabetes or any other condition.
But several studies confirmed that ALA has the power to lower specific inflammatory markers. For instance, it can drive down CRP (C-reactive protein) that goes up as a sign of underlying inflammation.
In lowering CRP, the acid actually helps your body fight inflammation. And again, it does that by improving metabolic processes and enzyme function.
Other inflammatory markers that ALA can improve include:
This is just to show you how powerful ALA is, with each marker tied to conditions other than neuropathy.
It's no secret that the skin deteriorates as you grow older. But alpha-lipoic acid can slow down that process.
In fact, there are various creams and ointments that contain the acid. That's because after applying for a few weeks, ALA can reduce skin roughness, wrinkles, and fine lines on the face and with no known side effects.
Additionally, the acid penetrates deep into the skin and boosts antioxidant protection there. That helps people cope with UV radiation when exposed to the sun.
A CDC study shows that 25% of all deaths in the US are due to heart disease.
But how can ALA help in this regard?
As before, the secret is in the acid's ability to remove free radicals and minimize oxidative stress. Because aside from damaging nerves, oxidative stress can harm the cardiovascular system and cause irregular heart rhythm and reduced blood supply to the heart.
What's more, alpha-lipoic acid is known to improve endothelial dysfunction, the condition where blood vessels lose the ability to dilate and which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
To summarize, alpha-lipoic acid is an uber-powerful antioxidant that promotes the production of other beneficial enzymes. ALA is capable of improving the nervous system, blood vessels, and metabolic functions.
Fortunately, ALA is naturally present in different kinds of food such as broccoli, potatoes, organ meats (kidney, liver, etc.), and green peas.
While adding these foods to your diet should help with the pain, why not include a supplement that can help speed up your recovery?
Nervexol contains vitamins D3, B12, B1, and B6 to revitalize your nerves. It also boasts corydalis - an herb used for centuries for its pain relief properties.
Plus, Nervexol contains a mix of other antioxidants that can further assist alpha-lipoic acid in relieving pain. And best of all, there are no side effects to using this supplement.