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Helping Your Liver With Alpha R-Lipoic Acid

Discover why Alpha R-Lipoic Acid is being taken by an increasing number of people with chronic liver disease.

In an effort to prevent liver damage, those with chronic liver disease are engaged in a continuous battle against free radicals. Thus, free radical neutralizers, otherwise known as antioxidants, are always advised to support liver health. A naturally occurring antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals, Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), is included in many practitioners’ recommended liver health regimens because it is known to protect – and even restore the integrity of liver cells.

Understanding Cellular Oxidation
Cellular oxidation is the natural process where either oxygen or disease breaks down a substance. By losing an electron, the broken-down matter produces free radicals. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture a needed electron to gain stability.

Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, stealing its electron. When the attacked molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Unless this cascade of free radical damage is stopped, cellular damage – or even cellular death – is likely to occur.

Because they can safely bind with free radicals, antioxidants are capable of terminating a destructive rampage before cellular damage is caused. By safely binding with free radicals, antioxidants can stop this injurious chain reaction. Thus, many health professionals suggest that their patients with chronic liver disease take supplements and foods rich in antioxidants to help prevent their hepatic cells from deteriorating.

Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant that is used to protect the liver for a variety of reasons.

·    Solubility – Unlike other antioxidants, ALA is both fat and water-soluble. Thus, this antioxidant can bind with free radicals in a lean liver or in a fatty liver, and it can confer free radical protection to both interior and exterior cellular structures.

·    Regeneration – Antioxidants are typically depleted as they attack free radicals, but there is evidence that ALA may help to regenerate other antioxidants so they can function once again. Such a capability is highly desired when constant liver inflammation threatens to form new free radicals.

·    Boosts Glutathione – A primary function of ALA is to increase the body’s production of glutathione, which helps dissolve toxic substances in the liver.

·    Reduces Liver Enzymes – According to research from the 1970s by Drs. Fredrick C. Bartter and Burton M. Berkson, ALA restores liver enzyme levels back to normal.

Alpha R-Lipoic Acid
Because of the functions described above, Alpha Lipoic Acid is well-known in the health supplement industry to help those with chronic liver ailments. However, information regarding the different forms of ALA – and which one is preferred – is just now being acknowledged.

ALA exists in two forms: Alpha R-Lipoic Acid and Alpha S-Lipoic Acid. Some facts about these two forms include:

·    Both forms contain the same number and composition of atoms but have different arrangements.

·    Naturally occurring lipoic acid is Alpha R-Lipoic Acid.

·    Synthetic lipoic acid contains a 50/50 mixture of the R and S forms.

·    Research indicates that the Alpha R-Lipoic Acid alone is far more effective than Alpha S-Lipoic Acid or the mixture.

ALA Cautions
In general, there is little evidence of ALA causing any harm. Although rare, one of ALA’s few reported side effects is a skin rash. Before supplementing with ALA, review the following specific concerns:

·    ALA can lower blood sugar levels, so those with diabetes should only take this supplement under the supervision of their doctor.

·    Several animal studies suggest that people who are deficient in thiamine (vitamin B1), a condition often associated with alcoholism, should not take ALA.

·    ALA may lower levels of thyroid hormone, thus those taking thyroid hormones should be monitored if they wish to take ALA.

Until a universal cure is discovered, chronic liver disease demands vigilant attention to preserving as many liver cells as possible. Due to its ability to protect the liver from free radical damage, Alpha R-Lipoic Acid is a logical choice for liver cell preservation. Because it scavenges free radicals, has a dynamic solubility, can regenerate other antioxidants, boosts glutathione and helps normalize liver enzyme levels, ALA should be a top contender in everyone’s liver wellness regimen., R Alpha Lipoic Acid, Retrieved July 5, 2009, Clear Springs Press, LLC, 2009., Alpha-lipoic acid in liver metabolism and disease, Bustamante J, et al, Retrieved July 5, 2009, Free Radical Biology & Medicine, April 1998., Antioxidants and Free Radicals, Retrieved July 5, 2009, Rice University, 2009., Alpha Lipoic Acid and Liver Disease, Burton M. Berkson, MD, MS, PhD, Retrieved July 5, 2009, Townsend Letter, December 2007., Alpha-lipoic Acid, Retrieved July 5, 2009, University of Maryland Medical Center, 2009.

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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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