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Alpha Lipoic Acid May Help Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Can Alpha Lipoic Acid help with multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. People with MS have periods where the condition is inactive. However, the disease progressively worsens and can cause permanent disability. MS may also increase the risk for other conditions (such as erectile dysfunction). (iii.2970)

Although what causes MS isn't completely understood, genetics and certain dietary choices can increase the risk of developing it. The good news is that antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid, quercetin, turmeric, and resveratrol could actually help protect you from MS. (iii.2971)

How Does Multiple Sclerosis Damage the Brain?

In active MS, over-stimulated immune system cells create chronic inflammation and too many free radicals that injure brain tissue. Signs of injury show up as lesions (commonly called plaques) in the brain. (iii.2972)

Table III.4: Neuron-Damaging Effects of Multiple Sclerosis
Effect What It Does


  • Strips off the protective myelin sheath that covers the ends of neurons. (iii.2972)
  • Destroys the brain cells that make myelin. (iii.2972)

Mitochondrial Damage

Damage to the blood-brain barrier

Allows more inflammatory immune system cells to cross into the brain to attack neurons. (iii.29)

Release of Toxic Iron Deposits

MS typically worsens between ages 40-50, which experts believe may be linked to age-related excess iron in the brain. (iii.2972)

It's thought that the excess iron released from myelin and cell destruction could be why lesions continue expanding even though inflammation is actually reduced at later stages of MS. (iii.2972)

Figure iii.8 Neuron Cell

Figure III.8: Neuron

How Can Alpha Lipoic Acid Help?

Free radicals promote the progression of multiple sclerosis. People with MS often have lower antioxidant levels, leaving them vulnerable to free radical damage. Studies suggest alpha lipoic acid's powerful antioxidant properties could help safely slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis. (iii.215)

Alpha lipoic acid is also a potent anti-inflammatory sulfur-based compound that helps maintain cell energy in the brain. Preliminary research suggests it may also help suppress inflammation in MS by: (iii.15297173)

  • Levels of MMP-9, an enzyme that allows inflammatory immune cells to cross the blood-brain barrier into the brain. (This effect, however, was not found in a later clinical trial at a dosage level of 1200 mg/day of alpha lipoic acid.)
  • Adhesion molecules that also help inflammatory molecules move into the brain.

Clinical Evidence

Some of these benefits were demonstrated in results from a recently published clinical trial. In it, patients were divided in 2 groups - one to take 1200 mg/day of alpha lipoic acid, while the other group took a placebo. Although alpha lipoic acid did not reduce levels of enzymes that are markers for oxidative stress, it did: (iii.2373)

  • Significantly antioxidant levels in patients
  • Substantially production of inflammatory cytokine proteins and adhesion molecules (compared to levels in patients that took a placebo).

Clinical Trial

Recommended Dosage for MS

Nutritional experts suggest taking 100 mg/day of alpha lipoic acid for its antioxidant effects, along with beta carotene, coenzyme Q10, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E(iii.73-74)

Primarily CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell lymphocytes, Th17 lymphocytes, activated microglia, and macrophages. (iii.2971)
Oligodendrocytes. (iii.2972)
Mitochondria are the organelles in cells responsible for converting the food we eat into energy. (iii.29)
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