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Alpha Lipoic Acid, A Novel Therapeutic Agent for Intervention of Childhood Allergies Print E-mail
by P.K.L. Lam, MBBS(H.K.), FAAP, FRCP(Edin), Suite 1023B Argyle Centre, Phase 1, 688 Nathan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China


A spectrum of bizarre illnesses including chronic anorexia, poor growth, disturbed sleep, frequent infection and severe allergies were not well treated conventionally. Elevated heavy metals (Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Antimony and Arsenic) could be identified in mineral hair analysis in these patients. Alpha Lipoic Acid, a potent antioxidant has been applied to treat these patients with remarkable result. A retrospective review from April, 2002 to December, 2003 of 416 consecutive infants and children so managed was carried out. Of these, 42 had severe allergic diseases including chronic tic- like cough, steroid dependent asthma with frequent exacerbation and intractable severe eczema. The excellent result could be explained by the potent antioxidant action of Alpha Lipoic Acid in chelating the heavy metals, thus breaking the allergic propagation.


Like the rest of the world, Hong Kong has experienced an ever rising incidence of allergies in children.1) Environmental pollution has been incriminated as causative but the exact mechanism is obscure. In the quest of an alternative method of solving an emerging spectrum of bizarre illnesses including severe allergies, the patients¡¦ hair were subjected to mineral analysis by a U.S. based federally licensed laboratory (Trace Element). Patients with elevated heavy metal were treated by a regime including Alpha Lipoic Acid. Result of this novel treatment has been gratifying and seemed superior to conventional management.

copyright 2004 by MEDIMOND S.r.l. EX04C0011, The 6th Asia Pacific Congress of Allergology and Clinical Immunology

Material and Methods

A retrospective review of consecutive 416 infants and children who had undergone mineral hair analysis from April 2002 to December 2003 were carried out. Of these, 42 patients were noted to have severe allergies, classified into the following categories:

  • 13 (age range: 4 to 9 year): had chronic tic-like cough not responding to conventional anti-allergic treatment.
  • 18 (age range: 8 month to 5 year)): had severe asthma dependent on inhalational steroid yet experiencing frequent exacerbation.
  • 11 (age range: 10 month to 3 year): had intractable eczema involving large areas not responding well to topical steroid and frequently associated with disturbed sleep. All of these severely allergic patients showed elevation of one to multiple heavy metals in their hair. These were caused by ingestion of contaminated fish or from transplacental passage of heavy metal from asymptomatic mother during pregnancy.

These patients were treated by avoidance of the sources of heavy metals implying the abstinence of fish, and a regime of Alpha Lipoic Acid, supplementary zinc and magnesium, and vitamin B complex.

The mean duration of treatment was 79 days. The response of the severely allergic patients to this novel regime was good, with 78% having an excellent response. Apart from the complete eradication of the allergy, the overall health of the patients such as growth, sleep

History of Lipoic Acid

  • 1951 First isolated by Lester Reed in Texas, U.S.A..
  • 1960-70s First shown to be clinically effective in treating liver cirrhosis, diabetes, heavy metal toxicity and neuropathy in Europe. Also used successfully in treatment of Amanita mushroom poisoning.
  • 1988 Shown to be a potent antioxidant, able to regenerate & lengthen the life-span of other antioxidants: vitamin E & C, Co-enzyme Q10 & glutathione. It helps to maintain cell integrity in the face of biological insults.
  • 1990 Approved in Germany for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy, dosage up to 600 mg intravenous preparation without adverse side effects.

Results of Study

Quality of life, emotional balance and immune resistance to common infection also improved. From this review, the earlier the recognition and intervention, the higher the chance of a complete remission of the allergy.


As contrast to the predominant neurological damage reported from the mercury toxicity in Minamata Disease in 1953, this report described a spectrum of diseases with heavy metal overload affecting various systems amenable to therapy. Heavy metals induce an oxidative stress. They promote a Th-2 dominant immune response and down regulate a Th-1 immunity. Allergic reactions have been shown to be associated with oxidative stress. So it is rational to use anti-oxidant to intervene the allergy cascade. The potential role of Alpha Lipoic Acid in the management of chronic illnesses associated with oxidative stress has been cited. By nature of its high bioavailability, potent antioxidant capability and a brief half-life, it deserves to be studied further on its potential to treat early childhood allergies.


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The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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