Lipoic Acid Proven to Clear Acetaldehyde in Humans

By Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

June 8, 2013

Lipoic Acid Proven to Clear Acetaldehyde in Humans
R-alpha-lipoic acid is a versatile small molecule antioxidant, an important member of your overall antioxidant team. A new study found that treatment with lipoic acid could dramatically improve heart protection by increasing the activity of the aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme. I will endeavor to explain the extreme importance of this study, highly relevant to any person with brain fog, chemical sensitivity, Candida albicans issues, alcohol sensitivity and related symptoms.

The classic example of a toxic aldehyde is acetaldehyde, which is produced as your liver metabolizes alcohol. It has nothing to do with the pleasure of alcohol and everything to do with the hangover symptoms. Individuals with an overgrowth of Candida albicans have their own "auto-brewery" in their digestive tract and/or sinuses, cranking out a steady supply of acetaldehyde in direct proportion to the degree of overgrowth – with no pleasure and just the hangover in varying degrees.

If acetaldehyde is not detoxified, it readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and causes a type of brain stress that results in the primary symptom of brain fog. In addition to the fog, many other uncomfortable mental health symptoms can occur. The fog, however, is the defining characteristic of acetaldehyde overload.

The other common toxic aldehyde exposure is formaldehyde, present in plywood, carpet, paint and many other building materials and industrial chemicals. A person struggling with excess acetaldehyde typically has trouble tolerating formaldehyde exposures, since they are already overburdened by a similar toxin.

Your body processes many non-toxic aldehydes on a regular basis from intake of alcohol and sugar compounds. Unfortunately, when toxic aldehydes overload the system, even normal aldehyde metabolism can struggle, such as the ability to metabolize carbohydrates without unpleasant symptoms or easy weight gain.

Non-toxic aldehydes are also part of many fragrances. Sensitivity to smells is a further sign of progressive aldehyde issues. Alcohol sensitivity may indicate aldehyde overload and therefore any additional exposure causes unpleasant issues.

As toxic aldehyde levels build up, a chain reaction of damage to fatty acid structures, such as cell membranes, takes place. This causes an increase in free radical damage. While I have mostly been discussing the impact of this on the brain, the study I am referencing focused on aldehyde's impact on the heart. This is also interesting, as it indicates that long-term aldehyde problems, if left unmanaged, are very stressful to the cardiovascular system.

Acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and even normal aldehydes are all cleared out by the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase. The new study conclusively proves that lipoic acid upregulates this enzyme. Prior to this human study only pantethine, the special form of vitamin B5, had been shown to effectively perform this task. Now we have two proven nutrients to help with a problem that is burdening the health of millions of Americans. Of course, working to clear out Candida albicans, reducing general exposures to toxic aldehydes, and keeping alcohol intake within reason are also important steps to take, especially if you struggle with brain fog and any other related issues covered in this article.

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