Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Lipoic Acid


  • Also known as: alpha lipoic acid
  • Route and Dose of Administration: Oral (once daily at 1,200 mg)
  • Type: Anti-oxidant
  • Emerging Treatment for: Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
  • Status: Phase II clinical trials
How it Works

Lipoic acid (LA) is an over-the-counter supplement known to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants block the action of “free radicals”, which are by-products of the body that cause tissue injury in MS. In addition to supplements, LA can also be found in foods such as spinach, broccoli and potatoes. LA has been shown to reduce inflammation and disability in mice that have an MS-like disease.

Research and Results

Phase II Trials

In a single-site, phase II, double-blind preliminary clinical trial, researchers randomly assigned 51 individuals with SPMS to receive either 1,200 mg of LA orally or placebo daily for two years. The primary outcome measure was the percentage of brain volume loss as determined by MRI. The team also looked at changes in disability and safety of LA. The results showed that participants who received LA had a 68% decrease in the amount of brain volume loss compared to individuals on placebo. While individuals treated with LA showed slight improvements in the time taken to walk 25 feet compared to the placebo group, this finding was not statistically significant. Furthermore, participants who were given LA had fewer falls than individuals given placebo.

Another phase II multicenter, double-blind clinical trial, supported by the National MS Society and MS Society of Canada, will expand on the preliminary results to confirm the effects of LA compared with placebo. The research team will recruit 100 participants to determine if LA alters mobility, falls, whole brain atrophy, neurological disability, cognition, mood, and quality of life. Furthermore, the trial will monitor the safety, tolerability and adverse events of treatment with LA. The results of the study are expected to be available in 2021.

Adverse Effects Reported

In the initial clinical trial, researchers reported greater occurrence of upset stomach in the LA group versus the placebo group, as well as occurrence of dehydration and skin rash.


Spain R, et al. Lipoic acid in secondary progressive MS: A randomized controlled pilot trial. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 4(5): e374.

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