Peripheral neuropathy is a painful medical condition that affects the nerves of the hands, feet, arms, and legs. People with diabetes have an increased chance of developing nerve pain. Even though there is no cure for nerve pain, there are several ways for you to manage it.
Apart from maintaining a proper diet and performing light exercises, you can use supplements that contain the ingredient alpha lipoic acid.
You need to consult with your doctor prior to taking supplements for nerve pain. Once approved, you can take supplements for nerve pain alongside your treatment plan developed by your doctor.
How ALA Alleviates Symptoms of Neuropathy
Alpha lipoic acid relieves symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, as it is an antioxidant.
Researchers claim that alpha lipoic acid reduces high glucose levels, improves nerves function, and relieves uncomfortable nerve pain symptoms in the arms and legs. This is one of the primary reasons why the creators of the neuropathy supplement Nerve Renew decided to add Standardized R-ALA to their formula.
The symptoms of nerve pain include itching, pain, burning, prickling, tingling, and numbness.
You can take an alpha lipoic acid either in supplement form or intravenously. If you opt for the last option, you will need to schedule an appointment with your doctor and let them administer it to you.
However, out of the two, the first option to take alpha lipoic acid in the supplement form is the easiest way to take it. If you’re considering taking it as a supplement, you need to take 600 to 1,200 mg each day or as instructed by your doctor.
You can also add food, containing alpha lipoic acid, to your diet. You can get this nutrient from the following food sources — red meat, liver, broccoli, brewer’s yeast, spinach, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli.
There have been studies performed by researchers in the past, detailing the benefits of alpha lipoic acid on treating people suffering from peripheral neuropathy. Here are five incredible studies on how it can treat peripheral neuropathy:
Study #1: Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid Supplementation on Oxidative Stress Markers and Antioxidative Defense in Patients with Diabetic Neuropathy
The researchers discovered that alpha lipoic acid reduced nerve pain and had a positive influence on nerve conduction. The study revealed that ALA could protect against nerve oxidative damage. They attributed ALA's quality in improving nerve pain and conduction to its antioxidant properties.
To come to this conclusion, the researchers tested the effects of alpha lipoic acid on 42 participants with diabetic neuropathy. They used Neurometer CPT/C to test the nerve conduction velocity. Patients who were treated with alpha lipoic acid showed a decrease in the ADMA levels. Increased ADMA levels have shown an increase in the symptoms of nerve pain in people with diabetes.
They also discovered that the paraoxonase and arylesterase levels in participants with diabetic neuropathy were higher than in participants not treated with alpha lipoic acid. For this reason, ALA is one of the main ingredients that you will find in supplements for nerve pain.
The researchers did conclude that more research into the beneficial properties of alpha lipoic acid needs to be performed but all the research that has been done up till now has shown it in the positive light of helping people with nerve pain.
Study #2: ALA for Symptomatic Peripheral Neuropathy in Patients with Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
The aim of the research was to examine the effects of alpha lipoic acid on patients with diabetes suffering from peripheral neuropathy. The researchers received a confirmation on ALA being used to treat nerve pain, concluding that it reduced the symptoms of nerve pain.
The researchers found out that the participants with nerve pain who were given a 600 mg dose of alpha lipoic acid intravenously each day over three weeks displayed a significant improvement in the reduction of symptoms of nerve pain.
However, the researchers were unable to find out if people with nerve pain who were given supplements of alpha lipoic acid showed significant improvement in the reduction of symptoms of nerve pain.
To reach their conclusion, they used existing literature and studies. They examined the quality of each study using systematic reviews and standardized evaluation form used for RCTs.
Based on their results, the researchers stated that doctors should consider administrating alpha lipoic acid intravenously to people with diabetic neuropathy, as it can improve the symptoms in the short term, especially in people who do not respond to common neuropathy treatments. They also said that more research on using ALA in treating nerve pain needs to be done.
Study #3: Oral Treatment With α-Lipoic Acid Improves Symptomatic Diabetic Polyneuropathy
The researchers performed a clinical trial to examine the effects of alpha lipoic acid on diabetic participants suffering from neuropathic pain. They performed a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial with 181 participants with diabetes participating in it.
The study took place in two countries, Russia and Israel. The researchers provided the participants with a 600 mg, 1,200 mg, and 1,800 mg oral dose of alpha lipoic acid, giving it to them once a day for five weeks after giving them a placebo for one week.
The researchers concluded that on average neuropathic pain reduced by 51% in the 600 mg group, 48% in the 1,200 mg group, 52% in the 1,800 mg group, and 32% in the placebo group. The researchers noted seeing an improvement in the burning and stabbing pain experienced in peripheral neuropathy in the participants being treated with alpha lipoic acid.
However, people who were given an increased dose of alpha lipoic acid exhibited symptoms such as vertigo, vomiting, and nausea. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that oral treatment of alpha lipoic acid given for 5 weeks could improve symptoms of nerve pain in people suffering from diabetes.
Out of all the doses given to the participants, the researchers recommended giving people with nerve pain a 600 mg dose to balance the risk and benefit ratio.
Study #4: Antioxidant (ALA) Significantly Improves Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
Mayo Clinic collaborated with a medical clinic in Russia to discover that alpha lipoic acid significantly and quickly decreased the frequency and severity of the symptoms related to diabetic neuropathy. The participants involved in the study reported a reduction in numbness, burning and prickly sensations, and pain.
The researchers also discovered a few improvements in the neurologic indications and nerve conduction. They treated diabetic participants with alpha lipoic acid, which improved the symptoms of diabetic sensorimotor polyneuropathy or DSPN, which causes damage to several nerves.
Next, they measured the improvement of the symptoms of nerve pain and observed that participants who took alpha lipoic acid noticed a 5.7-point improvement from the beginning of the clinical trial. The participants who took the placebo, their symptoms improved by 1.8 points.
The researchers stated that the participants who were on ALA did not experience any unfavorable side effects. They went on to say that it is safe and effective for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy.
People with diabetes who have not developed nerve pain yet should take alpha lipoic acid supplements as a preventative measure. Additionally, ALA also eliminates oxidative stress caused by diabetes from the body, thus decreasing the risk of diabetic people developing nerve pain.
Study #5: Study of Comparative Effects of Antioxidants on Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
In a study, 94 participants with type 2 diabetes participated in a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study for three months. The aim of the study was to test three antioxidants — alpha lipoic acid, metformin, and glimepiride.
They provided the participants with a 300 mg dose of alpha lipoic acid each day for three months, 180 mg plus docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, 400 mg of vitamin E each day, and 120 mg of omega 3 fatty acids each day. The researchers divided them into three groups.
The participants who took alpha lipoic acid had reduced weight and waist size, whereas participants who took omega-3 fatty acids also reduced weight with increased control over their blood sugar levels. The participants in all three groups noticed an improvement in their cholesterol levels.
Therefore, a decreased weight and more control over blood sugar levels can decrease the risk of a person with diabetes to develop neuropathy in the future.
Further research on the benefits still needs to be performed. The information that is available on using alpha lipoic acid to alleviate nerve pain states that it is a safe and effective supplement to use for reducing the symptoms of nerve pain.
If you want to take alpha lipoic acid supplements, you need to discuss this with your doctor before you take supplements to reduce your nerve pain symptoms.