Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Antioxidant for Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Unattached, free moving oxygen atoms around the body are called free radicals. These free radicals are like icebergs that damage cells by accelerating their deterioration. As the free radicals navigate through the body, every cell in their way is susceptible to damage; in particular, neurons or brain cells are more vulnerable.

The process of free oxygen molecules damaging cells is called oxidation, and the damage it causes is called oxidative damage. You can see proof from an example of a cut apple exposed to air; where the exposed surface oxidized and turns brown rather quickly.

But if you rub the apple surface with lemon, it slows down the oxidation and keeps the apple fresh for longer. Lemon juice is rich in antioxidants which prevent the oxygen in the air to react with the apple and spoil it.

Antioxidants, like name suggests, are compounds which prevent the cells from oxidizing and deteriorating. They naturally occur in different foods, and prevent the free radicals from causing harm to cells.

Alpha-Lipoic acid or Lipoic acid is a naturally occurring antioxidant which is available in over-the-counter supplement form; is used as therapeutic supplement for diabetic neuropathy. Lipoic Acid protects the cells from any incoming damage from free radicals and acts as a strong antioxidant.

Since Lipoic acid had shown improvements and positive effects on neurological activity, it was suggested to be used in treatment and therapy for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a neurodegenerative disease which occurs when the myelin sheath (fatty layer) around the axons of neurons is damaged.

This interrupts electrical impulses and triggers multiple symptoms which can later life. The symptoms include fatigue, weak bladder, leaky-gut syndrome and difficulty in creating hand-eye coordination; and even complete or partial paralysis in progressive stages.

A pilot study explored the effects of the potent Alpha-Lipoic acid on patients with secondary progressive MS (SPMS). The study involved 51 patients diagnosed with secondary progressive MS, which were entered into a clinical trial to test the theory over the course of two years.

The study began with 27 patients receiving 1,200 mg doses of Lipoic acid daily while the others were given placebos. The average age of the test group was 58.5 years old and had an average Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score of 6.

The scope of the study to test was to study whether the Lipoic acid lowered brain atrophy. Secondary objectives included measurements of neurodegenration in spinal cord and eyes; and also measured neurological functions.

After two years of administrating Lipoic acid, study found that the treated group had a significantly lower rate of brain tissue loss, compared to the control group. The treated group was also found to be walking faster while the control group fell more often.

Although the study found promising results, it was not conclusive. This area of study requires more research on a bigger scale to find whether Alpha-Lipoic acid can reduce brain atrophy in patients with SPMS and lessen the intensity of their symptoms and progression of MS.

Currently there is another study being conducted to test the effects of Lipoic Acid in combination with omega-3 fatty acids. The study aims to test how a combination of both affects brain atrophy in patients with SPMS.

April 04, 2018 by

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