Alpha Lipoic Acid, A Novel Therapeutic Agent for Intervention of Childhood Allergies
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
- 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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