Neuropathy is a condition that occurs when peripheral nerves, especially those that branch out through the arms and legs, get damaged. Symptoms range from weakness, numbness, and tingling to extreme pain and paralysis. In some cases, neuropathic ulcers form due to repeated stress on feet that have diminished sensation and small cuts or other “microtrauma” can lead to much more serious infections.
Many neuropathies don’t have known causes. However, neuropathy is often associated with other conditions such as injuries, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, and exposure to toxins.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 20 million people in the United States suffer from some form of peripheral neuropathy. In the East, natural remedies have been used to treat neuropathy for thousands of years. These natural treatments are increasingly gaining attention in the United States and other parts of the world.
There are several natural remedies determined to be safe and effective. Here are some natural ways to get rid of neuropathy:
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a good fatty acid that is present in every cell in your body. It is required in the production of energy and promotes healthy body functions. ALA is a powerful antioxidant that protects microcirculation to the nerves, improves glucose uptake, reduces the degree of insulin/sugar-related nerve and tissue damage, and stimulates nerve regeneration.
A number of research findings have shown ALA to be helpful in the alleviation of neuropathy symptoms. In a small Romanian study, 26 type 2 diabetics showed symptomatic improvement after three months of taking a daily dose of 600mg of ALA orally. In another study involving diabetics in Russia and Israel, oral doses of 600, 1200, or 1800mg of ALA for five weeks were found to significantly improve neuropathic symptoms. An oral dose of 600mg once daily offered the best safety profile.
You can find ALA in most health food stores and at many online merchants. It is also found in foods like peas, potatoes, rice bran, Brussels sprouts and organ meat like the heart, kidney, and liver. Make an effort to incorporate these foods into your daily diet.
Cayenne is the spice commonly referred to as red pepper. It has been used as both food and medicine for ages. Capsaicin, its chemical constituent, is a natural pain reliever. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the substance is often recommended to relieve pain from nerve damage resulting from diabetes.
Cayenne is often added to creams, gels, and oils which are massaged into the skin to help relieve neuropathy symptoms. These can be found in health food stores as well as online at places like Amazon.com. Cayenne can also be purchased in liquid or capsule form. You can also add cayenne pepper to your food.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil (EPO) is extracted from plant seeds. It is high in the essential fatty acid gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). Other common sources are black currant oil and borage oil.
There is evidence suggesting that GLA can be helpful in relieving diabetic neuropathy. In one study involving 111 diabetics, a 480mg daily dose of GLA significantly reduced diabetic neuropathy symptoms after a period of 12 months.
EPO is available in oil or capsule form. EPO products should be refrigerated, and exposure to direct sunlight can make the oil become rancid. Make sure the product you purchase is standardized and contains 8% GLA.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid that may help people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, cardiac autonomic neuropathy, and neuropathy caused by chemotherapy. Two 52-week studies that involved a total of 1,257 diabetics showed that use of acetyl-L-carnitine helped decrease pain and improve sensory perception.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is one of the three forms of carnitine. You can get carnitine naturally from animal-based foods such as beef, chicken, and dairy products. It is also available as a supplement. Common daily dosages for acetyl-L-carnitine range from 1 to 3 grams.
Fish Oil is rich in EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. It reduces inflammation in body tissues, improves blood flow, and calms and strengthens the nervous system. In one study, five patients with neuropathic pain were treated with high oral doses of fish oil. The patients experienced significant reduction in pain, suggesting that fish oil may be beneficial in the management of neuropathic pain.
Fish oil can be obtained naturally from oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines. It is also available in the form of concentrated supplements.
Acupuncture involves insertion of fine needles at specific points of the body for preventative and therapeutic purposes. It can be effective in the treatment of neuropathic pain, but it may take a number of sessions for you to experience noticeable improvement.
In one study, acupuncture treatment was found to have a positive effect on peripheral neuropathy in 16 of the 21 patients that received the therapy. For safety purposes, it is best to seek this form of treatment from a certified practitioner.
Try out one of the above natural remedies for neuropathy and stick to the one that works best for you. It is advisable to consult your physician before beginning any therapy or taking any supplement.