Alpha lipoic acid (ALA or thioctic acid), is a sulfur-containing fatty acid. ALA is frequently used in conjunction with milk thistle (silymarin) and selenium to help treat hepatitis. Also, along with milk thistle, ALA has been used for therapy of Amanita phalloides poisoning. In Europe, it has long been used in the therapy of hepatic disorders because of its liver-sparing properties which can help the liver repair.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Liver Benefits
ALA has proved to help with fatty liver disease, hepatitis, cirrhosis and elevated liver enzymes. Intravenous forms of ALA are administered in hospitals to treat cases of acute mushroom poisoning and for other conditions of acute poisoning that affect the liver. Its combined usefulness in repairing the liver and working as an antioxidant has led to its extensive use in Europe for radiation sickness, medication poisonings, and chemical overdoses.
Alpha lipoic acid was used in the 1970s as a therapy for various forms of hepatitis. The scientists administered ALA intravenously to 79 people with acute and serious liver damage at medical centers across the United States, and 75 recovered full liver function. In a study, published in a 2008 issue of “Hepatology“, determined that Alpha-lipoic acid prevented fatty liver disease and may be used to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in insulin-resistant patients. Amanita is a extremely poisonous mushroom that causes liver damage. In the Amanita phalloides, amatoxins block the production of DNA, which causes cell necrosis particularly in those areas that first interact with the toxins and have a high rate of degeneration, like the liver and kidneys. The first symptoms of Amanita posioning appear 6 to 24 hours after ingestion. For 12 to 24 hours, the patient will have abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. ALA infusions were used in the therapy of amanita mushroom poisoning in 75 patients between 1974 and 1978. Normally, up to 50% of patients recover without intervention; but, 89 % recovered after ALA infusion.
This combination of alpha lipoic acid, silymarin, and selenium replenishes glutathione stores, promotes liver cell regeneration, and puts the brakes on viral replication. One study by Dr. Bert Berkson has shown efficacy for ALA as part of a combination “triple antioxidant” treatment for hepatitis C with liver failure. Dr. Berkson has utilized an antioxidant protocol consisting of alpha-lipoic acid 300mg, twice a day; oral selenium, 200 mcg, twice a day; and oral silymarin, 300 mg per day. Dr. Berkson reported his triple-antioxidant protocol in 1999, in the content of a pilot study involving 3 patients with cirrhosis, portal hypertension, and esophageal varies related to HCV. All 3 were candidates for liver transplant. After a year on Alpha lipoic acid, silymarin, and selenium, all were healthy, demonstrated improved hepatic function. (Also to the alpha-lipoic acid, selenium and silymarin, Dr. Berkson recommends a B vitamin complex because high dose alpha-lipoic acid will deplete thiamine, niacin and riboflavin.)