Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that is made naturally in the body and also found in foods. It is used to break down carbohydrates and to make energy.
Alpha-lipoic acid can be eaten in foods, such as red meat, carrots, beets, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. It is also available in supplements. Because alpha-lipoic acid seems to work like an antioxidant, it might provide protection to the brain and also be helpful in certain liver diseases.
People most commonly use alpha-lipoic acid for nerve pain in people with diabetes. It is also used for obesity, altitude sickness, aging skin, high levels of cholesterol or other fats in the blood, and many other purposes, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these other uses.