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Greetings and welcome to my Lyme disease blog, a comfy cozy (and sometimes crazy!) place for cutting-edge information, encouragement and insight into the fastest-growing epidemic disease in the United States. In this blog you will find everything from bug-killing strategies to immune system and hormone help, as well as lifestyle and spiritual suggestions for healing from chronic illness involving Lyme disease. The information contained within this blog is based upon my own healing journey and what I have learned over the past eight years as I have been diligently digging and researching my way back to a better state of health. May you find it to be a source of hope, inspiration and wisdom in your own journey towards wellness.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Why Alpha-Lipoic Acid?

Alpha-lipoic acid is a nutrient I've pretty much ignored. It always seemed like one of those, "nice but not necessary" items for any Lyme supplement checklist. Recently, however, I have started to consider that it may be a more vital component to any Lyme disease protocol than I initially thought. In fact, J. Burrascano, M.D., in his 2008 revised treatment guidelines for Lyme disease, puts alpha-lipoic acid in the "required" supplement category.

So what's so great about alpha-lipoic acid?

Whenever you kill Lyme critters, you create a fireworks display of free radicals in the body. These free radicals damage cells and create inflammation, which in turn affects immune function. Alpha-lipoic acid is a potent catcher and destroyer of free radicals. And while so many nutrients have anti-oxidant properties, alpha-lipoic acid is at the forefront of anti-radical power. Other anti-oxidants, such as vitamin E, serve only to quench free-radicals in the fatty membrane of cells, while others, such as vitamin C, get 'em in the watery part only. Alpha-lipoic acid has the unique ability to quench free radicals in both the watery and fatty part of cells, which means that it can eliminate radicals generated from all kinds of metabolic processes. As if that weren't enough, it makes other anti-oxidants more effective, because anti-oxidants are thought to function synergistically; that is, they work together, and alpha-lipoic acid happens to play a central role in this anti-oxidant network.

What this all amounts to is less cellular damage and inflammation as a result of Lyme and the fouled-up metabolic processes it creates.

Another benefit of alpha-lipoic acid is that it lowers glucose and insulin levels as it improves insulin sensitivity (function). It does this by increasing the burning of glucose by speeding up the Krebs cycle(sometimes by up to one-third!), and by improving the efficiency of insulin, which moves glucose into cells. In fact, high doses of alpha-lipoic acid have shown to improve insulin's effectiveness by an average of twenty-seven percent in diabetic patients. Due to the HPA dysfunction that is found in Lyme disease, many Lyme patients suffer from some degree of insulin resistance. Alpha-lipoic acid may be one effective way to combat this.

Finally, alpha-lipoic acid reverses nerve damage in several ways. First, by restoring normal glucose levels and getting rid of the cell-damaging free radicals (and in this regard it also can reverse other kinds of damage in the body), but also by increasing nerve conduction. Studies have found that it can stabilize variable and erratic heart rates. I don't know whether the results of such studies apply to Lyme patients, too, but it would seem to also be beneficial for those of us with skippy hearts.

So what dosage should Lyme disease patients take? I don't know, but I have heard that doses higher than 600 mg per day can mobilize heavy metals in the body, and unless you are taking a strong metal binder in conjunction with it, such as DMSA, you might end up shifting metals around in your body. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but to be on the safe side, I would recommend not going above this dose. If you're hitting the bugs hard or wish to reverse insulin resistance, however, a higher dose, such as 500-600 mg might be necessary. Taking alpha-lipoic in lower doses, say 200-300 mg, is beneficial for maintenance of good health.


Anonymous said...

Great information. One caveat - be careful with ALA if you are heavily mercury toxic, as it is nearly as strong as DMPS and DMSA (chelators), and improper use can send mercury around like crazy. But I agree that ALA is a "miracle nutrient."


William James Croft said...

Also remember that when ALA is taken together with ALCAR, Acetyl L-Carnitine, it forms a powerful synergy that revitalizes mitochondria. This is Dr. Bruce Ames discovery.
Nat.Acad.of Sciences papers
Ames' Berkeley page
Popular article
My own site mentioning Ames' discovery and other energize/detox strategies.

Connie Strasheim (aka Killabugger) said...

Thanks, Bryan and William, for your informative thoughts.

William, I did not know that combination was so powerful for mitochondria. That is intriguing.


gloworm said...

"be careful with ALA if you are heavily mercury toxic, as it is nearly as strong as DMPS and DMSA (chelators)"

I agree. ALA is actually used with DMSA in Andy Cutler's Mercury Chelation Protocol. It is quite a powerful chelator. Hence, this protocol is only done:

1) No less than 4 days after all mercury amalgam fillings have already been removed. Otherwise, you may just chelate mercury out of your fillings or bloodstream and redeposit it elsewhere into other tissues. Needless to say, if you haven't gotten your amalgams removed yet, I would be very wary of taking any ALA.

2) In very small doses every 3 hours. Starting off with maybe just 12.5 or 25 mg doses. The key here is a steady, constant trickle...not huge doses once a day. Again, last thing you want to do is just redeposit all your mercury around. Then you may start overburdening your elimination organs, etc and create a domino effect that you really don't want.

Detoxing, and especially chelation, is a trickier business that must be closely-monitored and paced so you don't overtax your system. That said, its benefits are awesome in cleaning up your body. I think it's essential for longterm health. But, just do your homework first and take it with more respect and a measure of seriousness than other garden-variety, entry-level health practices.

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you! My LLMD just suggested I begin taking lipoic acid and this was just the information I was looking for.