Famous sayings like, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and “you are what you eat” stress the influence that our diet has on our health. Although diet alone does not dictate whether or not we develop certain medical conditions or how our body responds to them, several studies have indicated that diet is a contributing factor. For this reason, there are a variety of dietary supplements and guidelines available for managing certain conditions. One such condition is neuropathy.
Neuropathy is a type of nerve dysfunction that results in weakness, numbness, and pain. One common cause of neuropathy is diabetes, however neuropathy can also be the result of conditions such as lupus, Guillain-Barre syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjorgen’s syndrome, to name a few. In some cases, neuropathy can also be a side effect of chemotherapy.
While there are conventional treatments available to treat symptoms associated with neuropathy, recent research suggests that dietary supplements may also be beneficial for some individuals. One of the primary benefits of dietary supplements is the fact that they generally have less side effects than other types of treatments. With that being said, it is still recommended to speak with your doctor before stopping any conventional treatments and/or starting a dietary supplement. Here are six dietary supplements for neuropathy that you may want to discuss with your doctor:
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid and antioxidant that creates healthy nerve cells, reduces nerve pain, and raises energy levels. It has been found to improve cancer-associated fatigue, as well as chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. It can be taken as a supplement or found in foods like meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant known for its ability to improve nerve function, relieve nerve dysfunction symptoms, and lower blood sugar levels. It can be administered intravenously, through a capsule supplement, or by eating certain foods. These include: broccoli, red meat, liver, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and brewer’s yeast.
B vitamins are known for their ability to support healthy nervous system function. Vitamins B-1, B-6, and B-12 have been found to be especially beneficial for treating neuropathy. Vitamin B-1, also known as thiamine, helps to reduce pain and inflammation and vitamin B-6 preserves the covering on nerve endings. B-12 is also essential for proper neurological function and a B-12 deficiency can actually cause neuropathy. B vitamins can be supplemented or can be found in eggs, seafood, fortified cereals, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and poultry.
Curcumin is a strong antioxidant found in turmeric known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. When taken early on, curcumin has been found to prevent chronic pain associated with neuropathy. It has also been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. It can be taken as a supplement, or used as an herbal add-on to certain foods.
Fish oil works as an anti-inflammatory and can repair nerve damage. Research has shown that fish oil can slow the progression of neuropathy and can even reverse it in some cases. It also promotes neuron outgrowth. Fish oil can be taken as a supplement or it can be found in salmon, sardines, mackerel, cod liver oil, herring, oysters, anchovies, or caviar. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can also be found in walnuts, canola oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and soybeans.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine is an antioxidant and amino acid that is used to treat nerve pain and reduce inflammation. It has been found to reduce neuropathic pain, improve motor coordination, and improve nerve damage. Since it is not naturally found in foods, it can be taken as a supplement.
Dr. Kashouty, a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), practices general neurology with fellowship trained specialization in clinical neurophysiology. Dr. Kashouty finds the form and function of the nerves and muscles the most interesting part of neurology, which is what led him to specialize in neurophysiology with more emphasis on neuromuscular conditions. He treats all neurological diseases, but his main focus is to treat and manage headaches, movement disorders and neuromuscular diseases.