Alpha-Lipoic Acid & Benfotiamine

I realized I hadn't looked for any additional studies from Dr. Brownlee in a while and I came across this one  (his work keeps me hopeful)...  I am not sure how close they are to publishing, but it certainly sounds promising...  Anyone know if you can buy time-release Alpha-Lipoic Acid or if that would be a lab/prescription item?



You can buy Alpha Lipoic Acid at any Vitamin Store.


You can and I usually buy my benfotiamine from (i had the URL wrong - .net NOT .com :P ) - that said, the study used a sustained relase Alpha Lipoic Acid so if one were to try to duplicate their methodology, you'd want to make sure you did that - I know Whole Foods has one that isn't too horribly expensive...



Ok I am not that dumb, but very new to this...with my little guy at home.  Went to the link but it is kind of beyond me.  What exactly does Alpha-Lipoic Acid do for a type one diabetic...pretend I am a kindergartner.  And by all means if you have to time to explain :)


The research item is actually talking about something that has been evolving since some originally JDRF sponsored research by a Dr. Brownlee on benfotiamine.  That research has evolved into the study of the combination of Alpha Lipoic Acid and Benfotiamine. 

The first thing I need to say is right now, there is no proof that there is any clinical benefit at all in people.  The theory is that the complications in diabetes are due to a series of chemical reactions - one sets off the next, which sets off the next which sets off the problems.  The idea, on paper initially was that if thiamine was introduced before the reactions got started that as they got under way, the thiamine would react with the substances produced as the chemical reactions started and create non-harmful things instead of continuing down the path of destructive components.  The first trial was a total bust.  They believed their equations were good and then it occurred to them that thiamine is flushed from the system pretty quickly.  It was at this point that one of the team remembered that the Japanese had been using a form of fat-soluble thiamine called benfotiamine to treat alcoholic neuropathies.  The advantage to using a fat soluble form is that it would stay in the system longer and was more likely to be available at the right time. 

The trial in rats was impressive-  avoiding the diabetes complications of kidney and eye damage at every testable level.  Later (much later) they started evaluating the chemistry in people.  What they found was that it didn’t seem to short-circuit the chemical reaction the way they had seen it in rats… That is when they tried adding the sustained release Alpha Lipoic Acid.  With this addition, it seems they had an impact at the chemical level.  This does not mean it prevents complications or has any effect on them.  It does mean they think it could have an effect.  Whether there are any side effects, or any negative effects – they have not tested for any of these things.  There is no clinical evidence that it will have any benefit to people – there is, right now, some suspicion that it may help and there is no evidence that it will hurt. 

On an editorial note, I take these two things as part of my supplement regimen but I am long past growing and my brain changes are limited to learning with no more gain in size or maturation.  If my son is diagnosed, I believe I would be hesitant to put him on something that was not yet fully vetted by clinical trials and some long term studies. 

This is my understanding as best I have been able to interpret what I have read.  That said, I am only as good as my ability to interpret what I have read and I am not trained in any of these areas so I am out of my element.  I hope anything I have wrong or misinterpreted someone else can jump in and correct…

P.S. - I think there are some other benefits to ALA - but I don't remember what I read...

Thank you so much for the information, that definitely helps me.  Although, like you said I am also heistant about "new" things for my little guy.  I have read a bit about insulin alternatives but those seem kind of 'out there' even.  I think pumping is our next goal, but we'll see.  I am one of those people that is even hesitant about Lasik for myself, first because it is still relatively new and second because they told me I would have to get it again after 5 years, which where is the benefit in that?  Anyways, good to know what is available or will be in the future for the greater good of type one diabetics.  Insulin and diet for now works just fine.

My generic understanding of Alpha Lipoic Acid's benefit for diabetics is that ALA is a good antioxidant and a lot of the damage done to the organs during hyperglycemic episodes is due to oxidative stress (free radicals are produced, which are toxic chemical species, and they damage cells and mechanisms).  Antioxidants combat those free radicals and the oxidative stress they cause and therefore make high blood sugar less harmful.  So the studies that indicate that ALA could prevent complications are basically stating that by curbing the harmful effects of high blood sugar over time they can decrease the risk for complications.

I take anywhere from 200-400 mg of ALA a day in pill form.  If I go high I take one pill right then to try to curb the damage that the high is doing right then.  It has been used pretty widely by diabetics in Europe, and some studies have showed neuropathy prevention with a 600 mg dose.


Here's a quote from a Dr. in an article I found:

"It is known that ALA is a very strong antioxidant," says Dr. Dyck. "High glucose in diabetes leaves trace chemicals harmful to cells — that process is called oxidative stress. If you burn something in the oven, it leaves soot. Similarly, in disease, there is 'soot,' and there are mechanisms that relieve 'soot.' Antioxidants promote getting rid of oxidative stress products.

Also I don't think you guys need to worry about using this stuff with your kids.  ALA is one of the best antioxidants out provide some context both vitamin C and E also work as antioxidants.  Pomegranite juice, tea, blueberries all have antioxidants.  Just because research hasn't empirically proved that tea and blueberries will definitely prevent disease doesn't mean they're risky to take.

Same with ALA.  Relatively risk-free since it has no serious side effects even when you overdose.  100mg/day won't do any damage.  The only side effects you'll feel if you overdose are the same type of side effects you feel with too much vitamin C: upset stomach, nausea, etc.

I've been taking this stuff for 6 years and it's never given me any problems.  Nothing changes with the way I feel whether I take 50 mg or 400 mg.



First, a lot of my concern and hesitation may be due to the fact that all of these items are so far afield from things I know a great deal about that I have a bundle of “fear of the unknown” tied to every bit that I try to read through and pick up.  I did want to make sure that I explained myself regarding some of my points earlier, though.  The comments I made, were made in regard to children taking Benfotiamine in combination with Alpha Lipoic Acid.  I think anyone considering the incredible number of cell replications happening in growing kids has to, in my opinion, be wary about introducing new elements into the equation.  Benfotiamine had little effect in humans without the Alpha Lipoic Acid and combined the effect to seem dramatically different than either item alone.  I think they are safe to take and I am taking both, however, I still would be cautious adding anything new to growing bodies and brains.  For me, I would want studies, research and more than a group, however large they may be, of anecdotal stories saying “no harm,” before I would start introducing this to my child.  We all make the best decisions we can with the information we have available and in accord with our tolerance for risk.  My risk tolerance where it concerns me is fairly high but it is and will likely remain remarkably low with my children.  We have watched the results of food intake somewhat empirically, however, the scientific observation of these two items in concert when introduced to the human body is still (I think) a chemistry experiment and it seems one that is in the early stages of evaluation. 

All of that to say that the preliminary research certainly looks promising and the anecdotal information is nearly glowing but the information I’ve seen leaves me feeling like the studies nailing down conclusively that this combination is safe in young growing bodies with results tracked over time, are lacking.  The effects they are talking about with these two combined are more significant and more concentrated than that of eating blueberries (which I do think are a great food addition for any diet).  I wouldn’t cringe if I heard someone was giving these things to their toddler/child nor would I advise them not to but I would choose differently.  Now would my decision change if I had a child who was showing early signs of complications…  Ooh, I desperately hope not to have to wrestle that mental tiger…




Great post A-D,

I agree that all of the studies I've read on ALA (Haven't read but your article on the Benfotiamine) seem relatively harmless.  But as you said, the evidence is not sufficient: "the information I’ve seen leaves me feeling like the studies nailing down conclusively that this combination is safe in young growing bodies with results tracked over time, are lacking."  They did a study with vit A (which is also fat-soluble) given to smokers in attempts to reduce oxidative damage and guess what they found?  An increase in the incidence of cancer.  They actually had to stop the study half-way through the results were so obvious.  They have found similar results with vitamin E and beta-carotene.  So, I can completely relate to what you are referring to about giving it to a child.  I wouldn't be too concerned about dosing myself, but introducing an dose of a supplement still VERY early in its clinical trials does seem a bit risky.  I'm glad there are some out there that are as fascinated in research developments as I am.  Keep them coming!!!

On the other hand, check out this article posted by the AMA.  It makes me hesitant to introduce any fat-soluble anti-oxidant to myself or my future children (vit A, vit E, and beta-carotene were all found to increase mortality)...