Lipoic acid (LA), an over-the-counter antioxidant supplement, helps to mildly delay a decline in walking speed in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) patients, particularly those with lesser disability, analysis of a small, two-year clinical study reports.
No improvements were seen in balance among SPMS patients taking oral LA and those given a placebo, but the findings were of enough interest to justify further studies, researchers said.
The study, “Effects of lipoic acid on walking performance, gait, and balance in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis,” was published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.
Few therapies are known to benefit walking abilities and sense of balance in people with MS, and only a minority of potential treatments have been specifically tested in SPMS patients.
Complementary or alternative medicines are often proposed, but little evidence to date supports their use.
LA is a readily available dietary supplement (naturally present in food and produced in our body) with antioxidant activity. In animal models of MS, LA was seen to reduce disability, inflammation, demyelination, and infiltration of immune cells in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
A recently concluded clinical trial (NCT01188811) in 51 SPMS patients at the Veterans Affairs Portland Health Care System in Oregon suggested that 1200 mg of oral LA, taken daily, improved walking abilities and reduced the extent of brain volume loss compared to placebo, while being safe and well-tolerated.
Led by researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University, the goal of the present study was to investigate the effect of LA in walking and balance metrics of SPMS patients in that Veterans Affairs clinical trial.
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