Natural Solutions for
Millions of people suffer needlessly from diabetic neuropathy because conventional medicine has nothing to offer but toxic medications that don't work.
Fortunately, natural solutions are available for preventing and reversing nerve damage caused by high blood sugar.
You can stop the pain and improve your quality of life by supplementing with specific nutrients proven to support healthy nerves.
Our experts agree that a nutrient-rich diabetic diet is the first-line of defense against the damaging effects caused by diabetes.
Get Proactive! Discover natural solutions for preventing and reversing diabetic neuropathy by clicking each link below.
What is Neuropathy?
The term neuropathy means a condition in a nerve or group of nerves that causes pain and dysfunction. There are many different causes of neuropathy and a broad range of symptoms.
Diabetic neuropathy is damage to nerve cells caused by elevated blood glucose. Glucose is a very reactive sugar molecule that binds to proteins embedded in nerve cell membranes.
The binding of glucose to proteins, known as glycation, destroys nerve cell structure and function.
Nerve damage can originate either within the central nervous system (central neuropathies) or in the peripheral nerves, which lie outside the central nervous system.
These are called peripheral neuropathies and account for the majority of cases. Diabetes is the cause of the most common peripheral neuropathies.
Unfortunately, there is no single good treatment for most of the neuropathies. A number of prescription drugs are used, but all have side effects, and none can actually correct the underlying nerve defect that causes the pain.
Nutrient therapy offers a promising alternative for people who want to avoid the side effects of prescription drugs.
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Why Does Neuropathy Hurt?
In all forms of neuropathy, there is abnormal stimulation of nerves or damage that results in pain. Peripheral nerves are sensitive conduits that carry impulses from the extremities back to the central nervous system (i.e., the spinal cord and brain).
Impulses are transmitted along nerves by changes in the electrical charge of the cell membrane caused by movement of ions such as sodium, potassium, and calcium.
For protection, most nerves are covered with a thin sheath called myelin, which is made from choline and lipids. Myelin insulates the nerve cell similar to the rubber around electrical cords.
In diabetic neuropathy, blood sugar damages the myelin sheath and disrupts communication between nerve cells. The damage usually occurs in more than one nerve area and is called a polyneuropathy.
In severe cases, the nervous system which controls automatic body functions is affected. Serious problems with digestion, urination, and even heart rhythms can occur.
However, the overwhelming symptom is chronic pain. It can be very intense and may be described as cutting, stabbing, crushing, burning, shooting, gnawing, or grinding.
In some cases, a minimal stimulus such as a light touch can trigger severe pain, or pain may be felt even in the absence of any stimulus.
If a problem with the motor nerve has continued over a length of time, muscle shrinkage (atrophy), or lack of muscle tone, may be noticeable.
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Promising New Treatments
Unfortunately, treatment options for diabetic neuropathy are less than ideal. The following are some promising new strategies:
- Control Blood Sugar
Blood glucose control is essential because glucose causes high levels of oxidative stress throughout the body.
Nutrients such as chromium, cinnamon, coffee berry, and soluble fibers help control blood sugar.
- Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Improving insulin sensitivity offers protection against nerve damage by lowering blood sugar.
Lipoic acid, cocoa (dark chocolate), green tea, and fish oil have all been shown to reverse insulin resistance.
- New Pain Relievers
A number of over-the-counter medications may also be recommended to help deal with the pain. The most common ones are NSAIDS.
Examples of NSAIDS include ibuprofen and aspirin. But they don't work well and have side effects.
Research has found two natural pain relievers...tart cherry extract and 5-loxin (from the Boswellia herb). They are safe and more effective than NSAIDS.
The effective dose for tart cherry extract is 1200 mg/day and for 5-loxin is 75 mg/day.
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Natural Solutions for Diabetic Neuropathy
Many people report less pain, better sensation, and healing of skin ulcers after taking the following nutrients:
Acetyl-L-carnitine has been shown to limit the neuropathy associated with diabetes. In two randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials, acetyl-L-carnitine, in daily doses of 500 mg and 1000 mg, was shown to yield significant reductions in pain.
- Lipoic Acid
As a powerful antioxidant, lipoic acid positively affects important aspects of diabetes, including prevention, blood sugar control, and the development of long-term complications such as disease of the heart, kidneys, and small blood vessels.
It has also been shown to reduce the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy.
Clinical trials of people with diabetes who had symptoms caused by nerve damage affecting the heart showed significant improvement taking 800 mg oral alpha-lipoic acid daily without significant side effects.
In another study, 23 diabetic patients were treated with 600 mg alpha-lipoic acid, delivered intravenously daily for 10 days, followed by 600 mg oral alpha-lipoic acid for 60 days.
At the end of the study, all participants showed significant improvements in cranial neuropathy, as well as improvements in both peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, which affects internal organs.
Researchers are continually discovering more benefits from curcumin, which is the yellow pigment that gives turmeric its distinctive golden hue.
In a study of inherited peripheral neuropathies, curcumin was shown to relieve neuropathy by causing the release of disease-associated proteins that are produced by a mutated gene.
- Omega-6 Fats
Diabetics are not able to make the omega-6 fat, GLA, and it must be supplemented. GLA improves diabetic neuropathy if given long enough to work.
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 111 people with mild diabetic neuropathy received either 480 mg GLA daily or placebo.
After 12 months, the group taking GLA was doing significantly better than the placebo group. Good results were seen in two smaller studies as well.
- Omega-3 Fats
The omega-3s are found in high quantities in coldwater fish such as salmon and are widely consumed for their anti-inflammatory powers.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids and are important components of cell membranes, including the delicate myelin sheath that protects nerves.
Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are able to reduce demyelination in the nerves of diabetic animals, which reduces neuropathic pain.
- Vitamin B1
Some animal studies have shown a decrease in pain with a combination of vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
The fat-soluble form of vitamin B1, called benfotiamine, has been used effectively to treat alcoholic and diabetic neuropathies.
The most marked pain relief from benfotiamine occurred in patients with diabetic neuropathy after only a three-week trial period.
- Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 inhibits glycosylation of proteins, one the major risk factors for developing diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetes patients with neuropathy have been shown to be deficient in vitamin B6.
Interestingly, the neuropathy caused by vitamin B6 deficiency is indistinguishable from diabetic neuropathy.
- Vitamin B12
A neuropathy caused by vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by numbness of the feet, pins-and-needles sensations, or a burning feeling.
Supplementation that restores normal B12 levels is a part of successful treatment of diabetic neuropathy.
The most common forms of supplemental B12 are cyanocobalamin or hydroxycobalamin. The natural form of B12 found in food is methylcobalamin (or a similar form, adenosylcobalamin).
- Vitamin C
Insulin facilitates the transport of vitamin C into cells, decreasing capillary permeability and improving wound healing.
Diabetes depletes intracellular vitamin C, which deprives a diabetic of vitamin C’s cellular protection. Vitamin C levels have been shown to be reduced in diabetic patients.
Derived from hot peppers, capsaicin has been shown to reduce chronic pain by reducing the stimulation of pain receptors.
It is often applied as a cream. Initially, capsaicin may cause a prickly, hot sensation that causes many people to discontinue using it.
However, once this first phase passes, capsaicin is effective. It has been documented to reduce the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy without adversely affecting glucose control.
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