A Whole-Body Approach to Your Health
Thoughtful patient care integrating conventional Western medicine with complementary alternative, medically-proven treatments.
ALPHA LIPOIC ACID THERAPY
This powerful antioxidant treatment helps those suffering from diabetes and is a proven anti-cancer agent. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a natural substance produced by the cells throughout our liver...more when we are younger and diminishing with age.
Primarily, ALA’s function is to help metabolize glucose from the food we eat. This may account for part of ALA’s role in relieving diabetic neuropathy, the pain and numbness endured by diabetics in their hands and feet.
ALA also recycles vitamins C and E, helping to prevent deficiencies of these vitamins, while also aiding in the formation of the body’s master antioxidant, glutathione — which acts mainly in the liver to detox the body of current toxic exposures, as well as improve brain function and prevent premature aging.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA, thioctic acid), among other actions, is an essential coenzyme in the conversion of pyruvate to acetyl co-enzyme A. Therefore, it is necessary for the production of energy for aerobic organisms. Scientists have found that it can be used medically to help regenerate liver tissue, reverse the complications of diabetes mellitus, slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, and chelate heavy metals, among other actions.
HOW ALPHA LIPOIC ACID CAN KILL CANCER CELLS AND SOMETIMES OUTPERFORMS CHEMOTHERAPY
Although Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is not a very well-known nutrient, it is a naturally occurring thiol antioxidant, or simply stated, a sulfur-containing chemical produced in plants and animals.
It has been shown to have a remarkable ability to regenerate other major anti-oxidants and protect the body from oxidative stress. Research has also shown that it has the potential to outperform chemotherapy in its ability to reduce cancer cell formation, with little to no side effects or collateral damage. (Read NIH information here.)
Alpha lipoic acid is found in food and many alternative-health doctors use higher dose supplemental forms to help those with diabetes, neurodegenerative conditions, auto-immune diseases, cancer, and heart disease. Alpha lipoic acid in supplemental form is also used to improve human performance in otherwise healthy individuals.
Where Do We Find Alpha Lipoic Acid?
Alpha lipoic acid is available from the following dietary sources:
Fruits & Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables including spinach and broccoli are some of the highest sources of ALA. Other sources are tomatoes and potatoes.
Organ Meat: Kidney, heart, and liver (from grass-fed animals is recommended).
Supplement: Supplement dosage size can range from 50-600 mg per day depending on the desired therapeutic effect you wish to achieve. As with any dietary supplement, you should speak with your health care provider to learn if ALA dietary supplementation is right for you.
Foods with high concentrations of thiol can also be incorporated into the diet to promote the body’s natural ability to produce ALA. Examples of foods high in cancer-fighting thiols are:
Antioxidants Are Essential for Health
The average Western diet is lacking the basic nutrients that our bodies require to not only sustain health but ensure both physical and psychological well-being.
Antioxidants are not merely recommended for healthy living but rather are essential. Antioxidants are one of the body’s defense mechanisms designed to protect cells from the burden of oxidative stress. Hence the word can be broken down into "anti" "oxidants". Think of other words such as anti-aging, antibacterial, and antidepressant. Can you think of anyone who wants signs of aging or who desires oxidative stress?
Antioxidants are one of the body’s defense mechanisms designed to protect cells from the burden of oxidative stress. A study performed on patients with Down Syndrome concluded that a high antioxidant diet consumed over two years had a significant improvement in the patients’ cognitive abilities.
The primary defense strategy of antioxidants is to neutralize free forms of oxygen known as free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS). Free radicals are lonely atoms that will do anything for a partner including stealing other atoms from their already tight-knit relationships. As a result, these highly reactive atoms create cellular damage and disturb biochemical processes necessary for maintaining health.
Alpha lipoic acid can be broken down in the body into a form known as dihydrolipoic acid. Both forms of ALA act as potent antioxidants for biological reactions taking place in the mitochondria of our cells. Often referred to as the powerhouse of our cells for their role in generating energy, a deficiency in ALA has been associated with various chronic disorders and different types of cancer.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Has Anti-Cancer Properties
The potential for ALA to treat chronic disease includes various types of cancers. Researchers propose that ALA may benefit individuals with leukemia, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and possibly breast cancer.
Combined with its numerous antioxidant capabilities, ALA has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation as well as apoptosis (programmed cell death) in healthy cells. ALA may actually promote the destruction of cancerous cells.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Increases Oxygen Production Within Cancer Cells
A 2005 study showed that ALA increased mitochondrial respiration within colon cancer cells. This is significant because cancer cells are known to have mitochondrial dysfunction and an inability to produce oxygen through aerobic respiration.
Oxygen is the nemesis of cancer cells which are characterized as anaerobic or living without oxygen. ALA was shown to increase oxygen production within the cancer cell. The increased oxygen induced the apoptosis genetic mechanism and killed the mutated cells.
Alpha Lipoic Acid Versus Chemotherapy
Conventional cancer therapy treatment today involves processes that further increase DNA damage and create free radicals. Mitomycin C is a chemotherapy drug and antibiotic that is very efficient at causing cellular damage and depleting available antioxidant sources. Radiation treatment damages cells and is also responsible for initiating the growth of secondary tumors.
Alpha lipoic acid works against cancer by improving mitochondrial respiration and protects against DNA damage that causes cancer cell production. It protects against metastatic cancer spread by reducing the activity of key enzymes that are used by tumors to invade tissues. It also reduces angiogenesis or the growth of new blood supply for cancer cells.
If you happen to be taking chemotherapy, lipoic acid protects against many of the side effects by protecting normal cells from the free-radical stress and inflammation caused by chemotherapy. In particular, ALA protects against chemo-induced neuropathy, intestinal damage, and diarrhea.
ALA increases the availability of antioxidants to cells, reduces cellular damage, promotes health, and targets cancer cells and cancer-promoting factors for destruction.
FROM THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH:
An increasing body of literature highlights the potential application of ALA in cancer therapy. Cancer cells convert glucose preferentially to lactate for ATP generation, a phenomenon known as the Warburg effect or aerobic glycolysis.
The persistent activation of aerobic glycolysis in cancerous cells leads to oncogenes activation or loss of tumor suppressors, thereby causing cancer progression. In this respect, the inhibition of the aerobic cycle may contribute to anticancer effects. Pyruvate dehydrogenase catalyzes pyruvate to acetyl CoA conversion, thus preventing lactate production. Feuerecker et al. investigated whether ALA is capable of activating pyruvate dehydrogenase in tumor cells. The results show that ALA inhibited cell proliferation, [18F]-FDG uptake and lactate formation, and increased apoptosis in neuroblastoma cell lines Kelly, SK-N-SH, Neuro-2a, and in the breast cancer cell line SkBr3. In the mouse xenograft model with subcutaneously SkBr3 cells, daily treatment with ALA has delayed tumor growth.
ALA suppressed thyroid cancer cell proliferation and growth through activation of AMPK and subsequent down-regulation of mTOR-S6 signaling pathway in BCPAP, HTH-83, CAL-62, and FTC-133 cell lines. In the same study, it was also found that ALA significantly inhibited tumor growth in mouse xenograft models using BCPAP and FTC-133 cells. In lung cancer cells, ALA inhibited cell proliferation through Grb2-mediated EGFR down-regulation.
Studies have also shown that ALA is able to generate ROS, which promotes ALA-dependent cell death in lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer, suggesting that it triggers the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis in cancer cells. Recently, the effects of ALA on the migration and invasion of breast cancer cells were assessed. The results have shown that ALA inhibited metastatic breast cancer cell migration and invasion, partly through ERK1/2 and AKT signaling. In summary, the scientific data show that ALA could be applied for cancer management and prevention.