A Powerful Natural Antioxidant for Health and Beauty

Counteract Liver Damage from Toxins with Alpha Lipoic Acid

Chemical toxins, parasites, and viruses can damage the liver and cause liver disease and liver failure.

Studies suggest alpha lipoic acid could help protect the liver against harmful toxins in the liver and help improve liver regeneration after surgery. Alpha lipoic acid may even help treat acetaminophen overdose. (ii.9699-103)

The liver makes enzymes that break down and remove potentially dangerous compounds from the body. These include: (ii.9699-102)

  • Compounds known to cause cancer.
  • Toxic chemicals.
  • Heavy metals (such as lead, cadmium, and mercury).
  • Pathogens (such as the hepatitis C virus and parasites).
  • Certain drugs (including over-the-counter pain relievers).

How Can Alpha Lipoic Acid Help Protect Your Liver?

Lab, animal, and some human study results show that alpha lipoic acid has a number of beneficial effects in the liver.

Table II.6: Alpha Lipoic Acid's Effects on Liver Conditions
Liver Condition Antioxidant Antiviral/Anti-pathogen Boosts Immune System Anti-Inflammatory Normalizes Liver Enzymes and Functioning. ↓ Fibrosis or Lesions
Hepatitis ✓ (ii.96) ✓ (ii.96) ✓ (ii.85) ✓ (ii.96) ✓ (ii.96)  
Indium poisoning ✓ (ii.104)   ✓ (ii.104)   ✓ (ii.104)  
Aflatoxin exposure ✓ (ii.105)       ✓ (ii.105)  
Exposure to carbon tetrachloride ✓ (ii.106-107)       ✓ (ii.106-107) ✓ (ii.106)
Schistosoma mansoni infection ✓ (ii.108) ✓ (ii.108)       ✓ (ii.108)
Tumor-promoting thioacetamide       (ii.109)   (ii.109)
Acetaminophen overdose (ii.100)     ✓ (ii.100-101) ✓ (ii.100) ✓ (ii.101)
Lead poisoning ✓ (ii.102)       ✓ (ii.102)  
Malathion pesticide exposure ✓ (ii.110)       ✓ (ii.110) ✓ (ii.110)

Alpha lipoic acid supplements could also protect the liver from radiation. In one study, 400 mg/day alpha lipoic acid supplements helped restore normal liver function in children exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor incident. (ii.111)


Can You Use Alpha Lipoic Acid to Treat Hepatitis C?

Experts say that alpha lipoic acid supplements may help fight liver damage from the hepatitis C virus. On the other hand, it's been argued that alpha lipoic acid may be too expensive, and that it hasn't been tested in enough clinical trials to recommend it for patients with hepatitis C. (ii.112)

Despite these concerns, integrative doctors recommend alpha lipoic acid for those with abnormal liver enzyme levels to protect against further liver damage. Case reports by medical doctors suggest that a twice-daily regimen of the following combination may help patients with hepatitis C: (ii.97112)

The natural treatment appears to inhibit viral replication, protect the liver from free radicals, and avoid the need for liver surgery. It's also a lot less expensive than a liver transplant. (ii.97)

In one study, oral doses of alpha lipoic acid with other herbs and vitamins also proved beneficial. The combination was used for 20 weeks and included: (ii.96)

The hepatitis C patients showed improved test results following treatment. (ii.96)


Can Alpha Lipoic Acid Prevent Liver Failure from Poisonous Mushrooms?

Eating the wrong mushroom can be deadly. The most common cause of death from mushroom poisoning involves the Amanita phalloides species. These mushrooms contain amanitins, a toxic compound that blocks crucial enzyme production in the liver. Although rare, this can lead to fatal liver failure. (ii.113)

There have been case reports claiming the benefits of alpha lipoic acid in helping treat poisoning from toxic mushrooms. However, animal studies and a statistical review of human case reports suggest this is questionable. Combining alpha lipoic acid with benzylpenicillin, a common conventional drug used to treat mushroom poisoning, actually showed the lowest benefit and greatest mortality amongst a number of treatment combinations. (ii.22113-115)

According to some scientists, taking alpha lipoic acid to counteract amanitin mushroom poisoning could perhaps even be dangerous. That's because alpha lipoic acid lowers blood sugar, which may exacerbate the effects of the toxin also has on glucose levels. (ii.116)

Recommended Dosage for Hepatitis and Poisoning

For hepatitis, some medical experts recommend 300 mg of alpha lipoic acid twice a day for its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects. Other helpful herbs and nutrients include turmeric, astragalus, selenium, zinc, and vitamin E(ii.117)

In addition to or following emergency medical care for poisoning, you may want to discuss taking 100 mg 3 times a day to help prevent further liver damage. (ii.117)

Beneficial Combinations

Alpha lipoic acid and N-acetylcysteine has been shown to counteract liver damage from acetaminophen overdose. N-acetylcysteine is the conventional initial treatment for acetaminophen poisoning. Researchers suggest this may be particularly useful in patients who cannot tolerate N-acetylcysteine. That's because using alpha lipoic acid could lower the dosage of N-acetylcysteine needed. (ii.100)

However, researchers say using high dosage levels of alpha lipoic acid for acetaminophen overdose treatment isn't useful. What's a high dose of alpha lipoic acid in these circumstances? The high dose used in the animal studies translates to the following human dose: (ii.100118)

The high dose used in the animal studies translates to the following human dose

Acetaminophen is found in many pain medications, and too much of it can cause life-threatening liver damage. (ii.101)
Quenches free radicals and/or increases natural antioxidant levels. (ii.104-107)
Oral doses of alpha lipoic acid with vitamin C, vitamin E, silymarin, and other herbs improved symptoms in some patients with hepatitis C. (ii.96)
Working in the semiconductor industry or from radiodiagnostic tests can increase the risk of indium poisoning. (ii.104)
Cancer-causing substances produced by fungal organisms found in grains. (ii.105)
Carcinogenic compound used in pharmaceutical, petroleum, and rubber industries and to make solvents, pesticides, and cleaning chemicals. (ii.99)
Carcinogenic compound used in textile industries and to make metal salt nanoparticles. (ii.99)
Lower doses of alpha lipoic acid seem effective; higher doses are not. (ii.100-101)
Alpha lipoic acid fully reversed liver damage when combined with DMSA, and partially reversed it when used by itself. (ii.102)
Equivalent to a person weighting 132 pounds.
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