Health Guide

Alpha lipoic acid

What is it?

Alpha lipoic acid is a vitamin-like substance that helps to make energy in your body. As an antioxidant, it is used to treat acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Alpha lipoic acid may also be used to treat diabetes and burning mouth syndrome.

Other names for alpha lipoic acid include: ALA, lipoic acid, and thioctic acid.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breast feeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse about how much alpha lipoic acid you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking alpha lipoic acid. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more alpha lipoic acid or take it more often than what is written on the directions.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take alpha lipoic acid without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Medicines used to lower blood sugar (examples: metformin (Glucophage(R)), glyburide (DiaBeta(R), Glynase(R)), glipizide (Glucotrol(R)), pioglitazone (Actos(R)))
  • Cisplatin (Platinol(R))
  • Take alpha lipoic acid on an empty stomach


  • Before taking alpha lipoic acid, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects.

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash.

Other Side Effects:

This medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • A feeling of "pins and needles" in your body
  • Headache
  • Hives, skin rash
  • Muscle cramps


1. Murray MT: Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA; 1996.

2. Nagamatsu M, Nickander KK, Schmelzer JD et al: Lipoic acid improves nerve blood flow, reduces oxidative stress, and improves distal nerve conduction in experimental diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes Care 1995;18:1160-1167.

3. Jacob S, Henriksen EJ, Schiemann L et al: Enhancement of glucose disposal in patients with type 2 diabetes by alpha-lipoic acid. Arzneim Forsch 1995;45: 872-874.

4. Fuchs J: Studies on lipoate effects on blood redox state in human immunodeficiency virus infected patients. Arzneim forsch 1993; 43:1359-1362.

5. Baur A, Harrer T, Peukert M et al: Alpha-lipoic acid is an effective inhibitor of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV-1) replication. Klin Wochnschr 1991; 69:722-724.

6. Suzuki YJ, Aggarwal BB & Packer L: Alpha-lipoic acid is a potent inhibitor of NF-kB activation in human T cells. Biochem Biophus Res Comm 1992; 189:1709-1715.

7. Fachinformation: Pleomix-Alpha(R), alpha-Liponsaeure. Plantorgan GmbH & Co OHG, Bad Zwischenahn; 1993.

8. Gleiter CH, Schug BS, Hermann R et al: Influence of food intake on the bioavailability of thioctic acid enantiomers. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1996; 50(6):513-514.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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