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Alpha Lipoic Acid Helps Ease Liver-Related Fatigue

People with chronic liver disease who are struggling with fatigue could reclaim their energy levels by supplementing with Alpha Lipoic Acid.

Fatigue is by far the most common symptom of liver disease. Interestingly, fatigue does not correlate with illness severity – since it can be just as debilitating to an individual in the early stages of liver disease as in an individual with advanced cirrhosis. Although scientists are still trying to understand exactly why a profound lack of energy is so prevalent in those with liver problems, there are ways to help those suffering from low energy levels. Supplementing with Alpha Lipoic Acid is one such approach that is helping many with chronic liver disease ease their fatigue.

Energy and the Liver
Due to the liver’s role in energy conversion and storage, it is logical that those with liver problems may have insufficient energy. One of the liver’s many physiological functions, this organ is intimately involved in supplying the body with energy:

·    The liver converts food into glucose, storing it for later use.
·    When the body needs energy, the liver releases glucose it had stored.
·    Glucose provides fuel for creating a burst of energy.

By producing, storing and supplying the body with glucose, the liver is a key player in preventing fatigue. A liver unaffected by disease releases glucose between meals, or whenever the cells need nourishment and energy. While a healthy liver maintains a steady level of energy throughout the day, one hampered by advanced disease and scarring has a reduced ability to produce glucose, and less space to store it.

About Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid is a fatty acid that is needed to produce energy for our body’s normal functions. Alpha lipoic acid converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Known casually as ALA, alpha lipoic acid was discovered by University of Illinois enzymologist Irwin Gunsalus in 1948 and described and characterized by University of Texas biochemist Lester J. Reed in March 1951. It is a natural substance that, according to ALA pioneer Burt Berkson, MD, in the December 2007 edition of the Townsend Letter, is the “rate-limiting factor for the production of energy from carbohydrates.”

Berkson further characterizes alpha lipoic acid’s role in converting glucose into energy: “A two-year-old, climbing the walls after an evening meal, produces very large amounts of ALA in his liver, while a 60-year-old man after the same meal can be found asleep on the couch; he does not synthesize much ALA and must get it through supplementation.”

Mitochondria and Energy
The mitochondria are structures inside each individual cell that produce the energy the cell needs to function. With age or disease, mitochondria activity decreases – a major factor in lowering an organism’s metabolism. As metabolism declines, energy production also diminishes. This unfortunate decline in mitochondrial activity, metabolism and energy is believed to occur in those with chronic liver disease. In 1999, California researchers investigated alpha lipoic acid supplementation’s effects on metabolism. They found that a diet infused with ALA drastically improved mitochondrial function, metabolism and energy levels.

Practitioners have found that helping the body convert glucose into energy is instrumental in easing fatigue. Since those with chronic liver disease are particularly vulnerable to low energy levels, many are reaping the benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid’s assistance in mitochondrial function and energy conversion. Thus, it is not surprising that Alpha Lipoic Acid is revered by many with chronic liver disease who had at one point struggled with fatigue and exhaustion., Alpha Lipoic Acid, Cathy Wong, Retrieved August 29, 2010,, 2010., Be a ”˜liver lover’ with alpha-lipoic acid, Burt Berkson, MD, PhD, Retrieved August 29, 2010, CBS Interactive Inc., 2010., R Alpha Lipoic Acid, Retrieved August 29, 2010, Clear Springs Press LLC, 2010., Fatigue and Hepatitis C, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved August 29, 2010, Natural Wellness, 2010., Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Retrieved August 29, 2010, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 2010., Love Your Liver with Alpha Lipoic Acid, James J. Gormley, Retrieved August 29, 2010, Natural News Network, 2010., (R)-alpha-lipoic acid-supplemented old rats have improved mitochondrial function, decreased oxidative damage, and increased metabolic rate, Hagen TM, et al, Retrieved August 29, 2010, The FASEB Journal, February 1999., Alpha Lipoic Acid and Liver Disease, Burton M. Berkson, MD, MS, PhD, Retrieved August 29, 2010, Townsend Letter, December 2007.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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