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LMU 121 – Alpha-Lipoic Acid: A Promising Supplement for Managing Diabetic Neuropathy


LMU 121 – Alpha-Lipoic Acid: A Promising Supplement for Managing Diabetic Neuropathy

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (January, 2016)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (March 8, 2019)


Diabetes, a chronic metabolic disorder affecting millions worldwide, presents a host of complications that significantly reduce the quality of life for those afflicted. One of the most distressing complications is diabetic neuropathy, a condition that affects around a third of diabetics and manifests as symmetrical sensorimotor polyneuropathy (DSPN). DSPN not only impairs the daily lives of those affected but also increases the risk of severe consequences such as foot or leg amputations and mortality. The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, including persistent pins and needles sensations, loss of sensation, imbalance, muscle weakness, and Charcot’s foot, paint a picture of the considerable burden this condition poses. Despite the plethora of available treatments and lifestyle adjustments, the progression of diabetic neuropathy often remains unhindered, sparking a fervent search for novel solutions to combat its devastating effects.

The Quest for Effective Solutions

Conventional treatments for diabetic neuropathy, encompassing medications, nutritional interventions, and lifestyle modifications, along with the management of cardiovascular risk factors, have struggled to comprehensively address the issue. This shortcoming has inspired researchers to explore innovative agents capable of halting, stabilizing, or even reversing the course of diabetic neuropathy in patients. Amidst this pursuit, a breakthrough surfaced, demonstrating the potential of a supplement that holds promise in transforming the landscape of diabetic neuropathy management.

The Alpha-Lipoic Acid Revelation

In the March 2019 issue of the esteemed journal “Diabetic Care,” a research paper showcased a remarkable discovery in the field of diabetic neuropathy treatment. The study, which stands as a milestone in the endeavor to combat neuropathy, highlighted the substantial benefits of a daily supplement—alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)—in patients grappling with neuropathy complications. While prior investigations had suggested the efficacy of ALA in managing diabetic neuropathy, this study marked the first long-term inquiry into its potential.

Conducted as a multicentred, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the research engaged 460 diabetic patients exhibiting mild-to-moderate neuropathy symptoms. Half of the participants received a daily dosage of 600 mg ALA supplement, while the remaining half ingested a placebo pill. Over the course of four years, the outcomes painted a clear and encouraging picture: the ALA group displayed a reversal of muscular weakness and other neuropathy-related issues, in stark contrast to the placebo group’s continued deterioration.

Unravelling the Mechanism of ALA’s Success

The question that naturally arises is, how does alpha-lipoic acid bring about such impressive results? This antioxidant powerhouse, when administered at a sufficient dosage of 600 mg per day, wields the ability to enhance blood flow to nerve fibers. This augmented circulation empowers nerve fibers to access a heightened supply of oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream, a critical factor in impeding the progression of neuropathy. Furthermore, the reparative capacity of damaged nerve fibers receives a boost, contributing to a certain degree of self-repair.

ALA’s impact transcends its role as an antioxidant. It exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, curbing inflammation within both blood vessels and nerve fibers. Additionally, this supplement has demonstrated its prowess in regulating blood sugar (glucose) levels in diabetic patients. The culmination of these multifaceted effects collectively contributes to the positive outcomes observed in patients integrating ALA into their neuropathy management regimen.

Promising Conclusion and Future Implications

In the words of the researchers, “four-year treatment with ALA in mild-to-moderate symmetrical neuropathy (DSPN) resulted in a clinically meaningful improvement and prevention of progression of neuropathic impairments and was well tolerated.” This assertion underscores the profound potential of ALA in alleviating the burdensome impact of diabetic neuropathy, all while eliciting minimal side effects. The study even indicated a lower mortality rate among patients receiving ALA treatment compared to those in the placebo group, further highlighting the potential life-saving implications of this intervention.

Accessible Solution on the Horizon

A noteworthy aspect of this revelation lies in the accessibility of the solution. Alpha-lipoic acid is an over-the-counter supplement readily available in various drugstores and health food outlets. This accessibility, coupled with the substantial positive impact exhibited by the study, accentuates the importance of disseminating this information to diabetic patients worldwide. Engaging in a conversation with their healthcare providers about this groundbreaking research can empower patients to make informed decisions that might redefine the trajectory of their neuropathy management.


The battle against diabetic neuropathy—a menacing adversary that compromises the lives of countless individuals—has witnessed a significant breakthrough in the form of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation. The four-year study published in “Diabetic Care” stands as a beacon of hope, illuminating a path toward improved neuropathy management and prevention. By unravelling the mechanism behind ALA’s success and highlighting its accessibility, this research invites diabetics to explore a novel avenue that promises to transform their experience with neuropathy. As this revelation ripples through medical discourse and patient communities, it is poised to rewrite the narrative of diabetic neuropathy, offering a glimmer of optimism amidst the challenges posed by this debilitating complication.


Ziegler D et al. Efficacy and safety of antioxidant treatment with alpha-lipoic acid over 4-years in diabetic polyneuropathy. *Diabetic Care*. 2019, 42 (3): 2054-2060.

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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