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Alpha-lipoic acid

Generic Name: alpha-lipoic acid (AL fa lye POE ik AS id)
Brand Name: Alpha Lipoic Acid, Alpha-Lipoic-Acid-300, Alpha Lipoic

Medically reviewed on June 18, 2018

What is alpha-lipoic acid?

Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant also known as Acetate Replacing Factor, ALA, Biletan, Lipoicin, Thioctan, and many other names.

Alpha-lipoic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid that can be found in many foods such as yeast, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, and organ meats such as liver or kidney.

Alpha-lipoic acid has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in weight loss, treating diabetic nerve pain, healing wounds, lowering blood sugar, improving skin discoloration caused by vitiligo, and decreasing complications of coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Alpha-lipoic acid may have been combined with other plants or extracts in a specific preparation to treat these conditions.

Alpha-lipoic acid has also been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, alcoholic liver problems, altitude sickness, heart-related nerve problems, HIV-related brain problems, or eye problems caused by diabetes. However, research has shown that alpha-lipoic acid may not be effective in treating these conditions.

Other uses not proven with research have included treating glaucoma, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, heart failure, dementia, carpal tunnel syndrome, leg pain caused by sciatic nerve damage or peripheral artery disease (PAD), anti-aging of the skin, and other conditions.

It is not certain whether alpha-lipoic acid is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Alpha-lipoic acid should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Alpha-lipoic acid is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Alpha-lipoic acid may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.

Important Information

Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use this product if you have:

It is not known whether alpha-lipoic acid will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are pregnant.

It is not known whether alpha-lipoic acid passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without the advice of a doctor.

How should I take alpha-lipoic acid?

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to use alpha-lipoic acid, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with alpha-lipoic acid does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.

Do not use different forms (tablets and capsules) of alpha-lipoic acid at the same time without medical advice. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra alpha-lipoic acid to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking alpha-lipoic acid?

Avoid using alpha-lipoic acid together with other herbal/health supplements that can also lower your blood sugar. This includes devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, and Siberian ginseng.

Alpha-lipoic acid side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although not all side effects are known, alpha-lipoic acid is thought to be possibly safe when taken as directed.

Stop taking alpha-lipoic acid and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • low blood sugar--headache, hunger, weakness, sweating, confusion, irritability, dizziness, fast heart rate, or feeling jittery; or

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Alpha-lipoic acid dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Dietary Supplement:

Alpha-lipoic acid 300 mg oral capsule:
1 capsule once or twice daily.

Alpha-lipoic acid 50 mg oral tablet:
1 tablet orally per day with a meal.

What other drugs will affect alpha-lipoic acid?

Do not take alpha-lipoic acid without medical advice if you are using any of the following medications:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with alpha-lipoic acid, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this product guide.

Further information

  • Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before using any herbal/health supplement. Whether you are treated by a medical doctor or a practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines/supplements, make sure all your healthcare providers know about all of your medical conditions and treatments.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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