I have written this post after reading a beautifully written article on Miranda’s MS Blog on the subject of Lipoic acid as a neuroprotector in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
“Lipoic acid for neuroprotection in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: results of a randomised placebo-controlled pilot trial,1” was reported on by Dr. Rebecca Spain, MD, MSPH, a neurologist in the Oregon Health & Science University Multiple Sclerosis Center, also working with the VA Portland Health Care System, at ECTRIMS 2016.”
Miranda includes an image demonstrating how antioxidants work, but I have not included it here. You will need to visit her post to find it.
I have long been aware of the importance of diet for multiple sclerosis management. Kale, spinach and all berries have produced significant improvements in my brain health, when I remember to take them.
Miranda advises we should “Eat the Rainbow”, a phrase I first encountered in The Wahls Protocol, a book by Dr Terry Wahls who expounds the importance of diet for mitochondrial health.
Why Lipoic acid?
I am not generally a fan of supplements, believing that getting the nutrients from a natural source is far better than any form of tablet.
But, the results of the recent trial were compelling enough to take the matter more seriously.
The first thing I did was research where lipoic acid comes from. And was surprised to find that lipoic acid does not come from plants, it is made in the body. A good explanation is given by the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Lipoic acid is an antioxidant and antioxidants, in various forms, are available in certain fruit and vegetables.
Now, I believe that I follow a good dietary regime. But, I am always willing to be proved wrong, or at least, misguided.
I have taken these lipoic acid supplements in the past. But, I don’t think I took them for a long enough period to accurately assess them.
It is unlikely that I will be able to reach any real conclusion about the potential brain health benefits of lipoic acid as I am not medically qualified.
Brain Shrinkage or brain atrophy is the nub of the matter. It is of particular concern to me, as it must be for the thousands of others, with a shrinking brain.
In multiple sclerosis, the immune system is wrongly targeting the central nervous system (CNS) causing nerve damage in the brain or spinal cord.
If the neural damage is extensive, brain mass is lost causing shrinkage of this critical organ.
Now, lipoic acid should be produced in our bodies but, multiple sclerosis causes our bodies to do strange things. Maybe, and this is pure speculation, something in the MS body is inhibiting this normal production.
If I can successfully complete my own trial of lipoic acid supplements, then I may get closer to an answer.
Non-Clinical Assessment of Lipoic Acid
I have recently had an MRI scan but, have yet to discuss the results with my specialist. It is most unlikely that my specialist, on this occasion, will shed any light on my possible brain atrophy. Why? Because the specialist who ordered the test was my ophthalmologist not my neurologist.
He wants to see if there is any reason, other than my multiple sclerosis, for my current visual problems. He accepts that the most likely cause of my optic nerve degradation is the action of the multiple sclerosis but, he wants to rule out any other possible cause.
I completely agree with this course of action. I have been too ready, in the past, to blame MS for all my woes and this has proved to be incorrect.
How will I assess the possible benefits of taking the Lipoic acid supplements? It will be unscientific, it has to be. I cannot book myself in for a monthly MRI and even if I could it would reveal nothing.
It is not possible for me to accurately analyse the MRI results. I also believe my visible brain atrophy will oscillate with the ebb and flow of the multiple sclerosis disease activity.
So, my assessment will be subjective. It can only be based on how I feel and what improvements, if any, I perceive.