Taming Diabetic Neuropathy5 months, 3 weeks ago
Posted on Oct 26, 2018, 1 p.m.
There are approximately 20 million Americans suffering with Diabetic neuropathy. That feeling of hitting your funny bone, or the numb pins and needles of an arm or foot falling asleep, isn’t nothing compared to the pain they experience day in and out.
The chronic condition is caused by damage to peripheral nerves that relay messages from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body, which can affect autonomic nerves resulting in problems with digestion, bladder control, swallowing, erections, other involuntary functions, as well as motor nerves that may lead to cramping, muscle weakness, and atrophy. The most common damage is sensory nerve damage that distorts nerve impulses that transmit pain, heat, cold, and other sensations causing pain, tingling, numbness, or complete loss of feeling.
There are more than 100 conditions linked to neuropathy such as nerve trauma, compression, autoimmune disease, nutritional deficiencies, heavy metal toxicity, chemotherapy, shingles, HIV, Lyme disease, and other infections. Factors including inflammation, glycation, and accumulation of sorbitol sugar also damage nerve cells. One third of cases are labeled idiopathic, but the most common cause is diabetes.
Diabetic Neuropathy happens because of chronically high concentrations of blood sugar injuring nerve fibers and blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to peripheral nerves. Over half of diabetic patients will develop some degree of neuropathy which contributes to several complications such as diminished sensation can lead to underestimates of wound severity that can mean disaster; and poor sensation of feet affects balance and coordination leading to more injuries.
Those with diabetes are advised to pay close attention to feet and any potential problems or changes that occur including scrapes, cuts, athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, corns, calluses, blisters, bunions, ingrown toenails, and plantar warts.
Getting a handle on blood sugar with lifestyle changes and supplements such as berberine is of most importance. Prescription painkillers, tricyclic antidepressants, or anti-seizure medications are often prescribed for nerve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, however some of these drugs can have side effects and are stopgag measures at best, yet they are relied on as there is little else to offer following clinical guidelines.
Natural therapies can reduce pain, slow progression, promote nerve regeneration, along with helping to reverse diabetic neuropathy. There are many vitamins and minerals that have supporting roles for nerve health, those at risk or suffering with this condition should take a good daily multivitamin supplement. Those with diabetes should be vigilant as high blood sugar levels can trigger significant nutrient loss furthering risk of nerve damage.
Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant treatment that has been shown to improve pain, burning, numbness and other symptoms in dozens of clinical trials. Antioxidants scavenge a storm of free radical damage that plays important roles in vascular and nerve damage underlying diabetic complications.
B vitamins help to prevent diabetes related damage to nerves, blood vessels, kidneys, and eyes. Benfotiamine has been shown to reduce diabetic pain, improve nerve conduction velocity, and provide sustained improvement in sensation.
Fish oil has been shown to significantly improve triglyceride levels and help reduce inflammation with no harmful effects on blood glucose control.
Gamma linolenic acid such as borage and evening primrose oils have been shown to help prevent deterioration and in some cases reverse the condition.
Acetyl-l-carnitine relieves pain, improves nerve function, and stimulates nerve fiber regeneration that is common among those with diabetic neuropathy.
Natural therapies are typically safe, but it is still recommended to have a discussion with a professional healthcare provider; and be patient as nutritional therapies can take a few weeks before any results are noticed.
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