March 12, 2011

090 A Story of ALA [22 November 2010]

Last week I wrote about Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits. This week I want to tell you the story of how Dr. Burt Berkson, a medical doctor and research scientist, first encountered ALA.

Dr Berkson, as a young resident in a teaching hospital in Cleveland Ohio, was approached by the chief of medicine who said he was “upset” that Berkson had not had any deaths on his service. To remedy the situation, the chief sent him two people who had eaten poisonous mushrooms and were dying of acute liver disease. He was told that a transplant was unavailable and nothing else could save them. Dr Berkson, who had a PhD in microbiology in addition to his medical training, contacted the National Institutes of Health and asked if they knew of anything that might regenerate a liver. Dr. Fred Bartter, head of NIH Internal Medicine, suggested alpha lipoic acid which he had found to reverse diabetic neuropathy and promote organ regeneration. He sent some to Dr Berkson who injected it into the patients by IV. In only 2 weeks both had fully regenerated their livers and were still alive, now in their 80s, 30 years later. Dr Berkson was impressed but his medical chief was not. Berkson was reprimanded for not following orders and using an unapproved drug (and for embarrassing the hospital staff who had told the patients’ families that they would die).

Instead of excitement for the discovery of a possible cure for an incurable condition, Berkson was branded a medical outlaw. There was absolutely no interest in the procedure within the American medical community. Instead, he and Dr Bartter were invited to speak at the prestigious Max Planck Institute in Germany and later, in Europe, published a paper on the recovery of 74 out of 79 patients with terminal liver disease treated with ALA. Dr. Berkson has since published many papers and 4 books including The Alpha Lipoic Acid Breakthrough. He operates a busy integrative medicine practice in Las Cruces, New Mexico and is a professor of applied biology at New Mexico State University.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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