Lipoic acid: The universal nutrient



In the normal body, thousands of chemical reactions are going on every second in order to keep us alive In these reactions we actually shift electrons around to make ATP (adenosine triphosphate) or energy out of food. We shift electrons around to make waste excretable and we shift electrons around to detox the chemicals that we ingest and inhale every day. Whenever electrons are shifted, there is always one left over. It is a sort of chemical musical chairs. This leftover electron doesn't get a seat on a molecule.

When this happens the electron will do anything to get seated. It will burn its way into a cell membrane trying to sit down on a molecule there and get a seat. It will burn its way into an enzyme trying to get a seat. In doing so it damages these membranes and enzymes. When the electron damages membranes we call this lipid peroxidation. The membrane is made out of lipids or fats (cholesterol, vitamin E, phosphatidyl choline, and much more) and the peroxidation merely means this electron has wildly attacked the membrane and burned a hole in it in its attempt to get seated on a molecule.

Electron shift is part of normal body chemistry, but when we are called upon to do extra work, like detoxify our daily chemicals, this produces an extra amount of left-over electrons. These leftover or free electrons are called free radicals. They are how we kill bacteria, but they are also the basis of many diseases and of aging itself. Therefore it is to our advantage to keep them to a minimum.

Free radical damage of membranes can be measured through lipid peroxidation. This measurement can actually determine one's vulnerability to developing disease and increased rate of aging. Not only can we measure this lipid peroxidation, but we can correct for excessive lipid peroxidation once we know that it is happening. These wild destructive electrons are analogous to the gay divorcee. They run around haphazardously trying to grab on to any molecule that has paired electrons and is stable. When an electron is not paired it becomes unstable and these unstable electrons (free radicals) are generated. Free radicals are constantly made in the metabolic work of being alive, but because of their destructive nature, extra amounts are basic to the chemistry of aging and all disease. Fortunately these wild, naked, destructive unpaired electrons or free radicals can be neutralized or sopped-up or deactivated with sponges known as antioxidants.

Another name for free radicals is Reactive Oxygen Species or R.O.S. There are many types of free radicals or R.O.S. They all have different functions and they all have different antioxidants that neutralize or control them. The single oxygen radical is one type of free radical that is generated but is fortunately quenched by beta carotene. That is why beta carotene is so useful in protecting against cancers and even helping to heal them once they have started. Another radical that is generated is the peroxyl radical, and this is quenched by Vitamin E. Another one is the hydroxy radical. This is quenched by glutathione. Yet another type of damaging radical is the oxy radical which can be quenched, for example, by CoQ10.

Other antioxidants such as vitamin C can scavenge heavy metals Vitamin C can also recycle vitamin E which quenches the peroxyl radical. Vitamin C is the chief anti-oxidant in the aqueous or liquid phase inside the cell, whereas vitamin E is the chief membrane anti-oxidant. There are hundreds of papers in the scientific literature showing that these antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, and beta carotene are important for attenuating disease, keeping us from getting cancers and arteriosclerosis, from restenosing or recloting newly by-passed arteries, protecting us from premature aging, and much more.

It is wonderful that we have antioxidants for every type of free radical that there is. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were an antioxidant that could quench all of these different types of free radicals? Well there is one that can do all of this plus what many of the others cannot do. It can recycle or restore once again to a useful form the very nutrients so crucial to the detoxification of all of our chemicals. This amazing nutrient can recycle glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin E, CoQ10, NADPH and NADH

The fact that there's a compound in the body that can recycle other antioxidants is very important. You see when vitamins C or E or glutathione or any of the other antioxidants are used to neutralize or quench or control a free radical, they stop its damage by donating an electron to it. However now they are missing an electron and they are no longer able to be used as antioxidants, because they have nothing else to donate. But there is a compound that can recycle them or regenerate them back to their useful form again. Does this sound to good to be true?

This orphan nutrient is one that is never tested for and rarely spoken of. It is called lipoic acid,and another name for it is thioctic acid. The body makes lipoic acid but not nearly in the amounts that we could use in this day and age, as the first generation of man ever to be exposed to so many chemicals. There is no other nutrient that has all of the activities that lipoic acid has. It is almost too good to be true.

In addition to being able to be the universal antioxidant and in addition being able to recycle many of the antioxidants, lipoic acid does much more. It is an inhibitor of HIV replication. In other words, it can decrease the activity of the AIDS virus. Lipoic acid also helps to increase the antibody response against HIV virus.

Lipoic acid or thioctic acid also decreases the damage done by sugars. Sugars promote arteriosclerosis by a process called glycation or glycosylation; lipoic acid helps neutralize this bad effect. Thus it is very important in reducing the arteriosclerotic complications of diabetes, as well as decreasing the development of arteriosclerosis in anyone.

In other words this nutrient actually attenuates the damage done by diabetes and arteriosclerosis that leads to heart disease, neurologic complications, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and blindness, and much more. This nutrient slows down these processes plus it slows down the chemistry of aging.

Studies also show that lipoic acids protect the liver in the face of chemical damage, and protects against aldehyde-induced changes. You recall that one of the ways that Candida produces brain fog and many of its other nasty symptoms is by making excessive aldehyde. Also, when people have chemical sensitivities and brain fog sometimes the biochemical defect is in the pathway that breaks down these resulting aldehydes.

Lipoic acid can help protect from the damage that these aldehydes cause. That is convenient since aldehydes can mimic any symptom, including brain fog. Aldehydes also promote arteriosclerosis, aging, the effects of alcoholism and all disease processes. They damage enzymes and membranes which have to with very fundamental body chemistry

This nutrient first attracted my attention when I read about amanita poisoning. Amanita poisoning or poisonous mushroom poisoning has no known treatment or anti-dote. Often people die from ingesting Amanita mushrooms. But lipoic acid is one of the few nutrients that can reverse the damage and save lives. To me this was exciting because it suggested that people with other types of mycotoxicoses, mold allergies, chemical sensitivities and other problems might be benefited by this as well. Lipoic acid has also been used in saving people from venom poisoning from snakes. As well it has it has helped reverse chemical poisoning with acrylamides (found in plastics and everyday adhesives for construction materials, furnishings, dental work and much more) and heavy metal (like mercury, aluminum, lead) poisoning

Lipoic acid has helped many symptom forms of chemical sensitivity. For example, hexane is a common chemical contaminant of auto exhaust. It can cause nerve damage leading to paresthesias (numbness and tingling) and even paralysis. However, lipoic acid can inhibit or delay the neurotoxicity or nerve damage from inhaled chemicals. Hence it is important for people with chemical sensitivity who do not process chemicals as well as others.

It can even protect against radiation damage. This is important for cancer patients because radiation often triggers the changes that will lead to death from cancer treatments. Years after radiation, leukemias and other cancers surface from the effects of radiation, and lipoic acid can protect for this. It also protects against anesthesia-induced hepatitis.

In the body lipoic acid is used for cellular metabolism. Its official name is dl-6, 8-dithio-octanoic acid. It is an essential co-factor in oxidative decarboxylation of alpha-keto acids. I'm really impressed with the biochemistry of thioctic or lipoic acid, needless to say. I cannot think of any other solo nutrient that rivals it in its ability to do so much good in the body. The recommended dose would vary according to a person's other nutrient levels and needs. A good starting dose might be 50-100 mg two to three times a day. But as with all nutrients, it should be balanced. (For more information about this read Dr. Rogers' just released 9th book, DEPRESSION CURED AT LAST!, Sand Key Publishing, P.O. Box 40101, Sarasota, Florida 34242, $19.95 plus $3 S&H, or 1-800-846-6687.


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(Ou P, Tritschler H J, Wolff S P, Thioctic (lipoic) acid: A therapeutic metal chelating anti-oxidant?, BIOCHEM PHARMACOL, 50(1):123-12G, dune 29 1995 and Teutsch C, Brennan RW, Amanita mushroom poisoning with recovery from coma, a case report, ANN NEUROL 3:177-179, 1978 and Vesconi S, Langer M, et al, Therapy of cytotoxic mushroom intoxication, CRIT CARE MED, 13:402 406, 1985).

(Altenkirch H, Stoltenburg- Didinger G, et al, Effects of lipoic acid in hexacarbon-induced neuropathy, NEURO-TOXICOL TERATOL, 12:619-622, 1990). And as would be expected by that fact, this amazing nutrient can prevent against the genetic changes that. lead to cancer as well Mizuno M, Packer L, Effects of alpha-lipoic acid and dihydrolipoic acid on expression of proto-oncogene c-fos, BIOCHEM BIOPHYS RES COMMUN, 200(2):1136-1142, Apr, 29 1994).

(Ramakrishnan N, Wollf WW, et al, Radio protection of hematopoietic tissues in mice by lipoic acid, RADIATION RESEARCH 130:360-365, 1992).




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