There is currently no health policy and no effective medical treatment for memory loss. Yet the National Institutes of Health predict that up to 50% of all Americans living today will lose their memory and spend their latter years in nursing homes unable to care for themselves.(3) If you want to avoid it happening to you, you have to learn to save your memory – now.
R+ Lipoic Acid
At the Colgan Institute we have been developing our brain program since 1997, applying it first to athletes who had suffered concussions.( 4) We have added 16 natural, non-toxic nutrients to the formula, all shown by multiple controlled trials in other laboratories to improve memory and cognition. To date we have applied the program successfully to more than 1500 cases.
There are very exciting studies now going on at universities across the country. A similar program to ours has just been used in a controlled trial at the Medical School of the University of California, Irvine, to restore memory and cognition in 30 brain damaged NFL players.(5)
To obtain the strongest effects, we have developed formulas to take advantage of synergistic reactions between certain nutrients. In Part 1, we covered the nutrient acetyl L carnitine. In this section we cover one of its important synergists, R+ lipoic acid. The combination of acetyl l carnitine and R+ lipoic acid was first proven to be more powerful than either nutrient alone in 2007.(6)
Over the last 20 years alpha-lipoic acid has become a common addition to brain formulas, and multi-vitamins. Problem is, most of it doesn’t work.
Because the molecular formula of alpha lipoic acid includes what is called an asymmetric carbon, it can exist in two enantiomers (different molecules that are mirror images of each other), R+ and S-. Only the R+ form occurs in nature. R+ lipoic acid is an essential nutrient produced by the human body. It is a necessary cofactor for enzymes called alpha-ketoacid dehydrogenases, and serves a critical role in energy metabolism.
But most supplements contain only synthetic alpha lipoic acid, because it is cheap to manufacture, and also has longer shelf life than the natural chemical. Synthetic alpha lipoic acid is a mixture of R+ and S- enantiomers.
S-alpha lipoic acid does not work in living systems, and also inhibits the action of R+. Unless your supplements are certified R+, you are missing the benefits of this potent aid to memory function, and may also be interfering with your body’s own R+ lipoic acid.
I feel confident in writing this, despite a risk of backlash from supplement makers. Three leading researchers in the world on alpha-lipoic acid are Professor Lester Packer, and Professor Bruce Ames of the University of California, Berkeley, and Professor Tory Hagen at Oregon State University, All three agree that the S- alpha lipoic acid found in most supplements, not only does not work, but also inhibits the action of R+ alpha lipoic acid.(6-11)
To quote Bruce Ames:
“R+ is the natural form and S- is an unnatural form.
And in our hands, R+ works and S- doesn’t.” (6)
There is a mound of recent evidence that oral R+ alpha lipoic acid acts not only a metabolic cofactor, but also triggers a unique set of biochemical activities with benefits against a host of neurologic insults. It is now being used widely in experimental studies for treatment of traumatic brain injury, diabetic neuropathy, age-associated memory decline, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.(12-22)
In our program we use 600-900 mg of R+ lipoic acid in combination with 1000 -2000 mg of acetyl L carnitine taken only in the morning with food. Over 16 years and more than 1500 cases, we have not seen adverse effects beyond occasional mild intestinal distress. We have recorded large improvements in memory with just the combination of these two nutrients, measuring with standardized tests prior to supplementation, and then three and six months later. In cases we have been able to measure long-term, this improvement has been sustained for as much as six years.
Any use you make of this information must of course be at your own choice and risk. I have included some major references to the science and urge you to read them. They are all available at the US National Library of Medicine. Simply put PUBMED into your browser to get there. Our goal is to provide the science in a free and understandable format that will guide you towards a smarter, happier, and healthier life.
Part 3 coming soon.
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2. Salthouse TA. When does age-related cognitive decline begin? Neurobiol Aging. 2009 Apr;30(4):507-14.
3. Centers for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6218a1.htm.
4. Colgan M. Save Your Brain. Vancouver: Science Books, 2008.
5. Amen DG, Wu JC, Taylor D, Willeumier K. Reversing brain damage in former NFL players: implications for traumatic brain injury and substance abuse rehabilitation. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2011 Jan-Mar;43(1):1-5.
6. Milgram NW, Araujo JA, Hagen TM, Treadwell BV, Ames BN. Acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid supplementation of aged beagle dogs improves learning in two landmark discrimination tests. FASEB J. 2007 Nov;21(13):3756-62.
7. Ames BN, Lin J. Delaying the mitochondrial decay of aging with acetyl L carnitine. Ann NY Acad Sci, 2004;1033:108-116.
8. Pick U., Haramaki N., Constantinescu A., Handelman G.J., Tritschler H.J., Packer L. Glutathione reductase and lipoamide dehydrogenase have opposite stereospecificities for alpha-lipoic acid enantiomers. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 1995;206:724–730. [PubMed]
9. Haramaki N., Han D., Handelman G.J., Tritschler H.J., Packer L. Cytosolic and mitochondrial systems for NADH- and NADPH-dependent reduction of alpha-lipoic acid. Free Radic. Biol. Med.1997;22:535–542. [PubMed]
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11. Shay K.P., Moreau R.F., Smith E.J., Smith A.R., Hagen T.M. Alpha-lipoic acid as a dietary supplement: Molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential. Biochim. Biophys. Acta.2009;1790:1149–1160. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
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13. Liu J, Head E, Gharib AM, Yuan W, Ingersoll RT, Hagen TM, Cotman CW, Ames BN. Memory loss in old rats is associated with brain mitochondrial decay and RNA/DNA oxidation: partial reversal by feeding acetyl-L-carnitine and/or R-alpha -lipoic acid. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002;99:2356–61.[PMC free article] [PubMed]
14. Suh JH, Shenvi SV, Dixon BM, Liu H, Jaiswal AK, Liu RM, Hagen TM. Decline in transcriptional activity of Nrf2 causes age-related loss of glutathione synthesis, which is reversible with lipoic acid. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004;101:3381–6. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
15. Tommassoni D, et al. Brain Activity of Thioctic Acid Enantiomers: In Vitro and in Vivo Studies in an Animal Model of Cerebrovascular Injury. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 March; 14(3): 4580–4595.
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17. Hager K., Kenklies M., McAfoose J., Engel J., Münch G. Alpha-lipoic acid as a new treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease—A 48 months follow-up analysis. J. Neural Transm. Suppl. 2007;72:189–193.[PubMed]
18. Holmquist L., Stuchbury G., Berbaum K., Muscat S., Young S., Hager K., Engel J., Münch G. Lipoic acid as a novel treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Pharmacol. Ther.2007;113:154–164. [PubMed]
19. Rocamonde B., Paradells S., Barcia J.M., Barcia C., García Verdugo J.M., Miranda M., Romero Gómez F.J., Soria J.M. Neuroprotection of lipoic acid treatment promotes angiogenesis and reduces the glial scar formation after brain injury. Neuroscience. 2012;224:102–115. [PubMed]
20. Di Geronimo G., Caccese A.F., Caruso L., Soldati A., Passaretti U. Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome with alpha-lipoic acid. Eur. Rev. Med. Pharmacol. Sci. 2009;13:133–139. [PubMed]
21. Zaitone S.A., Abo-Elmatty D.M., Shaalan A.A. Acetyl-l-carnitine and α-lipoic acid affect rotenone-induced damage in nigral dopaminergic neurons of rat brain, implication for Parkinson’s disease therapy. Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 2012;100:347–360. [PubMed]
22. Aliev G, et al. Neuronal mitochondrial amelioration by feeding acetyl-L-carnitine and lipoic acid to aged rats. J Cell Mol Med. 2009 Feb;13(2):320-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2008.00324.