Peripheral neuropathy refers to a condition where nerves are damaged and are characterized by numbness, pain, and tingling of the nerves. Neuropathy is a common disorder that can occur due to a number of factors, which include:
Hereditary: People who have a family history of neuropathy have a higher risk of developing the disorder.
Diabetes: Diabetes is one of the #1 factors contributing to the development of neuropathy, affecting over half of diabetes sufferers. This is the result of unregulated blood sugar levels, obesity, and high blood pressure in the diabetes patients over the age of 40.
Autoimmune diseases: Disorders affecting the immune system such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are known to contribute to the development of neuropathy.
Disease: Other diseases such as liver disease, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, and connective tissue disorders may lead to the development of neuropathy.
Alcoholism: People with severe alcoholism are at a higher risk for developing neuropathy as alcohol can have a toxic effect on nerve tissue.
Medications: Taking certain medications may result in developing neuropathy. These drugs may include medications that treat cancer, seizures, blood pressure, and blood pressure.
Toxins: Exposure to insecticides, solvents, and toxic chemicals can result in nerve damage. Exposure to heavy metals such as mercury and led can also contribute to the disorder.
Infections: Certain viruses and bacterial infections can cause neuropathy, which include Lyme disease, herpes simplex, hepatitis C, leprosy, chicken pox, shingles, Epstein-Barr virus, and HIV.
Vitamin deficiencies: Lacking vitamins E, B1, B6, and B12 may cause neuropathy. These vitamins are vital to nerve health and functioning.
Injury: Suffering physical injury is the most common way people damage their nerves. This may be the result of car accidents, falls, sports injuries, and fractures. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of neuropathy, which is the result of placing increased pressure on the nerves of the wrist from repeated motions such as typing.
Tumors: The development of tumors can create pressure on surrounding nerves, causing damage.
Around half of people suffering from neuropathy are actually diabetic. The damaged nerves can cause misfiring messages which transfer pain signals to the brain despite there being no physical reason for pain. If a person’s autonomic nerves are damaged, they may experience palpitations, heat intolerance, sweating problems, blood pressure issues and dizziness as well as problems with digestion and the bladder. Neuropathy has proven a very difficult condition for the medical profession to tackle and with that in mind, many sufferers are looking towards alternative remedies to improve or at least control their symptoms.
Certain vitamins and supplements may be able to play a significant role in the treatment of diabetic and peripheral neuropathy and this article will examine the evidence to date.
What is Neuropathy?
When these nerves are damaged or destroyed, they fail to perform their job effectively which results in the condition we know as neuropathy. As a result, people with the condition may not feel pain when they should or experience feelings of pain when there is no physical reason for it.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
The symptoms of neuropathy will vary depending on which nerves are affected. The following are some of the most common symptoms.
This type of neuropathy affects the muscles and causes the following symptoms:
Vitamins and Supplements for Neuropathy
Alpha Lipoic Acid
An essential fatty acid known as Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a compound produced in the body which is present in all of our cells. ALA plays a vital role in the performance of many of our body’s functions especially with regard to the metabolism of glucose; it is both a powerful antioxidant and helps produce energy from blood sugar.
Alpha lipoic acid is already used to treat diabetic neuropathy in Germany and is an approved treatment in that country. According to research, it can help those suffering from diabetic neuropathy by positively influencing the metabolism of glucose. Research has also demonstrated that lipoic acid improves the flow of blood to the nerves allowing them to use energy efficiently.
The results of clinical trials have been promising so far. One particular trial demonstrated that alpha lipoic acid taken at doses of 600 mg 3 times daily for a 3 week period led to very significant improvements in neuropathic symptoms. Both the sensations of burning and pain were significantly reduced after around a week.
Another trial, found that a dose of just 600 mg a day taken for 4 years improved symptoms and slowed down the progression of neuropathy. The results seem very promising especially with regards to diabetic neuropathy and alpha lipoic supplements are readily available online if you cannot find them locally.
The B vitamins are a group of vitamins that play many vital roles in the body including nerve function and generating cellular energy.
Thiamine and Benfotiamine
According to research, a thiamine deficiency can directly lead to neuropathy and there is some evidence that thiamine supplements can help treat the condition, especially diabetic neuropathy. Benfotiamine is a derivative of thiamine which is fat-soluble and more easily absorbed into the digestive system.
According to the research so far, benfotiamine modulates the pathways that cause neuropathy. It regulates cellular damage caused by high levels of glucose and prevents vascular problems that also contribute to neuropathy. Several trials have demonstrated that benfotiamine taken at doses between 300 and 600 mg a day can significantly relieve the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6
Vitamin B12 is absolutely crucial to a well-functioning nerve system and a deficiency can lead directly to peripheral neuropathy.
Several studies on animals and humans have offered promising results so far. Several studies on animals have demonstrated that Vitamin B12 can extenuate nerve damage caused by neuropathy by activating a chemical signal, which helps nerves to regenerate.
Clinical trials have also demonstrated how significant ViaminsB12 and B6 are in the treatment of neuropathic symptoms. Combinations of Vitamin B12 and B6 (methylcobalamin, folic acid, and pyridoxal) have been found to improve symptoms and maintain the health of nerves in the extremities.
Another study found that a combination of the same B-Vitamins reduced periods of hospitalization and medical costs in those with diabetic neuropathy. Research into the effects of methylcobalamin (a type of Vitamin B-12) has been promising too. Taken orally at 1500 mcg a day, research has found that it improves symptoms including numbness, pain, and gait and it also proved more effective than nortriptyline, a commonly prescribed antidepressant to treat neuropathic pain.
Although Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, excess amounts are easily excreted, toxicity is a concern and too much Vitamin B6 can result in nerve damage to the arms and legs.
Adverse effects may include:
This vitamin is especially significant to diabetic neuropathy because research shows that most diabetics have a lack of Vitamin C as a result of their illness rather than diet.
Those suffering from diabetic neuropathy have an elevated level of vitamin c which the body has already used known as reduced Vitamin C. This implies that neuropathy places an extra strain on the body’s Vitamin C stores. As a result, it is important for diabetics to get sufficient levels of this vitamin through supplementation or diet.
Lower levels of Vitamin E can also be seen in people suffering from diabetic neuropathy. Research has shown that supplementing with Vitamin E alone can improve peripheral neuropathy symptoms and improve nerve function and health in those with type 2 diabetes.
A deficiency in Vitamin D may be a risk factor in peripheral diabetic neuropathy. A deficiency is typically present in those with type 1 and 2 diabetes and is even more common in those suffering neuropathy symptoms.
This is an amino acid which is often used to treat a range of illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetic neuropathy and other forms of neuropathy. Because carnitine is often lacking in those with diabetic neuropathy, there has been some research to evaluate the role of supplementation.
According to research, supplementing with carnitine might help increase insulin resistance, allow the cells to utilize glucose effectively and boost nerve regeneration. Several studies into the effects of Acetyl l-carnitine have discovered that it helps reduce pain, improves the sensation of vibration in the limbs and helps nerves to regenerate.
Note: People taking blood thinning medications like warfarin should not use Acetyl l-carnitine. the combination increases the effects of warfarin and can increase the risks of bleeding.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
Supplementing with NAC might help treat the symptoms of neuropathy; it functions as a potent antioxidant as well as increasing the potential of naturally occurring antioxidants in the body like glutathione.
According to research, NAC protects the nerves from oxidative stress and damage.
Resveratrol is a phytochemical available in a supplementary form and also present in grapes and red wine. Animal studies have shown that it protects against neuropathy because of its ability to fight inflammation and oxidative stress. One study demonstrated that resveratrol combined with insulin reduced sensitivity to pains.
Research suggests that the majority of us in the West are deficient in magnesium. It performs many vital functions including clotting the blood and allowing proper muscle and nerve function. According to research, diabetic neuropathy symptoms are exacerbated by magnesium deficiencies and it is recommended that supplements are used because we do not get enough from our diets.
The recommended dose of magnesium is 400 mg taken twice daily.
The extra nutrients that supplements provide prevent stealing free radicals from harming healthy cells, speed the repair and regeneration of damaged cells, and facilitate Renewal. The upshot of all this is a longer, healthier, more vital life. Supplements are intended to enhance the nutrient density of your diet. Diet also plays a major role when treating neuropathy holistically. Check out my next article on Treating Neuropathy With Food.
All these clinical studies can be found at
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