Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a natural compound made in the body and present in many plant foods.   It’s a highly versatile antioxidant because of its ability to reach tissues composed mainly of fat, such as the nervous system, as well as those made mainly of water, such as the heart.  ALA has the unique ability to protect many body systems, and it is constantly working to recycle other antioxidants, thus making them much more effective.  It is currently being studied as a tool for the prevention of various age-related diseases.

In terms of cancer, ALA has been shown to trigger “cell suicide” or apoptosis in many types of cancer cells.  In case reports, intravenous ALA resulted in prolonged survival in patients with advanced metastatic pancreatic cancer, an extremely aggressive malignancy.   There is also some evidence that ALA’s ability to kill cancer cells may be enhanced by the addition of vitamin C, hydroxycitrate, and low-dose Naltrexone (see details below).

At this time, ALA is being provided both orally and intravenously to aid in cancer treatment, though clearly more research is needed to determine the ideal way to administer this treatment.  The intravenous approach (600 mg) is thought to be more effective for tumor control.  The main concern with ALA infusions is the potential to lower blood sugar levels dramatically after the treatment. Therefore, your physician must carefully monitor your blood sugar levels during and after the infusion, and a half-dose infusion (300 mg) is usually done first as a test dose.

Field of thebaine poppies in Tasmania. This variety is used to produce naltrexone for the management of alcohol and opiate dependence.

The clinical reports to date have all included the combination of intravenous ALA with low-dose Naltrexone, which has been used in for decades to help reduce alcohol and drug (opioid) addiction.  Low doses of Naltrexone have been reported to be effective in enhancing natural killer cell activity against cancer, thus possibly helping to extend remissions.  A best-case series analysis found that Naltrexone provided some preliminary evidence of therapeutic benefit for patients with a variety or advanced cancers.   Naltrexone may improve the treatment response to interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy for advanced kidney cancer.

Researchers in Italy observed that the combination of IL-2, melatonin and Naltrexone helped boost the anti-cancer immune defenses in patients with various advanced cancers. This approach may be even more effective when used in combination with intravenous ALA, based on the case series of advanced pancreatic cancer patients mentioned in the preceding section.   For more information about Naltrexone, readers are encouraged to visit the site of Dr. Bihari: