I have neuropathies all over my body, it feels like pins and needles. I take pain medications. Is there anything natural I can do or take?”
-G.D. Seattle, Wasington
Neuropathy may cause more than the discomfort you describe. It can also cause pain, weakness, dizziness when standing up, burning sensations (even in the tongue), shooting pain, trigeminal neuralgia, tingling, numbness, cystitis, urinary urgency, and vibration/buzzing sensations. In men, erectile dysfunction is possible.
Recognizing that your neuropathy is related to another disorder is huge. If you treat the neuropathy as a disease in and of itself, then you miss the big picture, and the opportunity to cure yourself.
Neuropathy is a symptom of post-herpetic neuralgia (shingles), high insulin, diabetes, gluten sensitivity or Celiac, heavy metal toxicity, autoimmune disorders, Lyme disease and medications. A little known fact is that medications can mug your body of nutrients that would otherwise protect your nerves, so neuropathy pain is a side effect. The list of drugs that can indirectly do this goes is in the hundreds and some classic ‘offenders’ include antacids, acid blockers, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, corticosteroids, statin cholesterol reducers, breast cancer drugs and fluoroquinolone antibiotics. That last class of drugs, the fluoroquinolones (Cipro, Floxin, Avelox, Levaquin) have a fluoride backbone. Fluoride is known to harm the thyroid gland, reduce thyroid production and cause irreversible damage to the nervous system.
One possible solution for neuropathies is to reduce insulin and blood sugar. My book, Diabetes Without Drugs offers natural remedies to help. I’d get off medications that cause neuropathies (with physician approval) and simultaneously get on medications that support nerve growth. Thyroid medications, specifically “T3” and/or growth hormone shots can help.
If your doctor approves and supervises you, you could take a few of the following supplements. It’s all trial and error, I don’t know what’s right for you:
Thiamine– A glass of wine every night can steal nerve-protective nutrients like vitamin B1 (thiamine). You can also try benfotiamine, a fat-soluble form of thiamine.
Probiotics– Sounds strange, but here’s a connection: Probiotics allow you to make methylcobalamin (vitamin B12) which you need to produce myelin and protect the nerve cells. Here’s one popular brand, and it’s one of my fave’s: Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics
Methylcobalamin (B12)- When your body starves for B12, you lose the myelin sheath and your nerves short circuit. This can cause neuropathy and depression. There are dozens of drug muggers of B12, including the diabetic medications that you take as well as processed foods, sugar, antibiotics, estrogen hormones and acid blockers. If you are interested in the full range of B vitamins, I have a unique formula that is completely bioavailable and methylated, the capsules are tiny too: B complex
Lipoic Acid– You can buy it as “alpha” at any health food store, or “R” lipoic acid as a more bioavailable form. This antioxidant squashes free radicals that attack your myelin sheath and ‘fray’ your nerve wiring. It reduces blood sugar too. High doses are needed to improve nerve pain, however, if you take high doses, you need to also supplement with a little biotin. The reason is because lipoic acid is a drug mugger of biotin.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.