(NaturalNews) With diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders reaching epidemic proportions, natural remedies that combat these health concerns are in high demand. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can help with these pressing issues and more. This formidable antioxidant has also shown promise in curbing osteoporosis, reducing the damage caused by stroke, as well as preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease.
A broad-spectrum wonder
In "Nutraceutical Update: Lipoic Acid," Mark A. Mitchell, M.D., lists the following benefits of ALA:
Reduces oxidative stress in the body via powerful antioxidant activity
Improves several components of the metabolic syndrome - a combination of risk factors that increases one's risk for diabetes
Reduces blood pressure
Reduces insulin resistance
Improves the lipid profile
Increases insulin sensitivity
Improves diabetic neuropathy
Protects against cataract formation
Improves visual function in glaucoma
Helps prevents retinal cell death when combined with vitamin E in retinitis pigmentosa
Reduces brain damage after a stroke
Prevents bone loss, possibly through an anti-inflammatory effect
Reduces frequency and intensity of migraines
Improves skin texture
And this study found that supplementing with ALA can help reduce inflammatory reactions associated with multiple sclerosis. Additionally, lipoic acid helps to safeguard against heavy metal toxicity. Chelating arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, ALA renders the metals inactive and safely expels them from the body. An animal study in Toxicology also found that ALA shielded the liver against arsenic exposure.  Likewise, research has verified the protective properties of lipoic acid against mercury poisoning. 
Please note: before attempting a heavy metal detox with ALA or any other substance, it's important to consult with a qualified practitioner to avoid potential side effects.
Dosage and use
The most potent form of lipoic acid is R-dihydrolipoic acid. The recommended dosage ranges from 300 to 1,800 mg per day. Taken with a B-complex vitamin, the bioavailability of ALA is given a significant boost.
Dr. Mitchell concludes, "[l]ipoic acid offers broad-spectrum protection against some of society's troublesome health conditions, ranging from painful neuropathy and migraine headaches to disabling cataracts and neurodegenerative conditions. You can begin optimizing your body's levels of protective antioxidants today using supplements of lipoic acid or its high-potency cousin, R-dihydrolipoic acid."
Sources for this article include:
Muller L. Protective effects of DL-alpha-lipoic acid on cadmium-induced deterioration of rat hepatocytes. Toxicology. 1989 Oct 2;58(2):175-85
Anuradha B, Varalakshmi P. Protective role of DL-alpha-lipoic acid against mercury-induced neural lipid peroxidation. Pharmacol Res. 1999 Jan;39(1):67-80
About the author: Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.