Alpha lipoic acid (ALA), also known as thioctic Acid, is a natural compound which is produced in the body in small amounts. The form produced in the body is inactive and produced in small amounts. As we age the levels of ALA we produce in the body decrease. ALA is both a water and fat soluble antioxidant which means it is active in most tissues of the body. It is thought that supplemental forms (IV or oral) of ALA provide the greatest therapeutic benefit.
Alpha lipoic acid is powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body. Reactive oxygen species are the byproduct of regular cellular processes that can cause DNA damage. Exposure to environmental toxins/ toxicants, such as cigarette smoke or heavy metals, can increase the levels of ROS and free radicals in the body leading to DNA damage and cellular mutation. This can eventually lead to the formation of cancerous cells. ALA has been found to neutralize these as well as aid in the regeneration of other antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, glutathione and CoQ10.
ALA has been found to inhibit NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa B). This cellular complex is pro-inflammatory and when activated it can increase cancer metastasis, invasion, proliferation, chemotherapy resistance and radiation resistance. Chronic inflammation has also been implicated in the development of cancer. Additionally, ALA is a co-factor in mitochondrial enzymes. The mitochondria are organelles found within cells which are responsible for producing energy in the human body. Dysfunctional mitochondria have been implicated in the development and progression of cancer. ALA may improve mitochondrial function and may be considered a metabolic therapy.
Most of the data on ALA comes from studies done on cells and in animals. However, there are case studies in humans showing that ALA may benefit patients with cancer. Additionally, ALA may benefit patients with neuropathy, hepatitis, diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma, radiation injury and more. Depending on your diagnosis ALA may be included as part of your integrated cancer care plan.
Benefits of IV Alpha Lipoic Acid in Cancer Care May Include:
- Is a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS)
- Enhances the effects of other anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E
- May reduce the side effects from conventional oncology treatments such as neuropathy
- Improves metabolism and insulin signaling
- Protects liver cells
- Reduces inflammation
- Potential anti-cancer applications
- May improve quality of life (QOL)
Side effects and contraindications:
Administration of ALA is safe and well-tolerated in most patients. Side effects are rare but can include low blood sugar, nausea. vomiting, vertigo, gastric upset and allergic reactions. With any intravenous infusion there is risk of pain and inflammation at the injection site as well as risk of infiltration lV fluid leaking outside of the veins.
High doses of ALA have been administered in multiple studies and there have been no documented fatal overdoses or severe reactions to ALA in the literature.
Due to the hypoglycemia effects of ALA caution should be advised in diabetics who are receiving ALA Diabetics receiving ALA should closely monitor their blood glucose levels. One study found that ALA administration is safe in diabetic patients with hepatic impairment