Peripheral or diabetic neuropathy affects 60-70 percent of all diabetics with stabbing, burning pain in the hands, feet and especially the toes, according to DiabeticLiving.com. Additionally, many non-diabetics are affected with painful neuropathies of no known cause. Initially experienced as numbness, and tingling of the affected parts, neuropathies often develop into feelings of having hot or icy needles stabbing sensitive flesh. Pharmaceutical medicines may or may not help manage pain, and often produce unwanted side effects. Fortunately, there is a more natural, multi-disciplinary approach to pain management using a variety of home remedies, herbs, supplements, homeopathic remedies, and lifestyle adjustments.
Herbs, supplements and homeopathic remedies
• Topical applications of cayenne pepper mixed with olive or coconut oil relieves neuropathy pain for some people. Capsicum, the active ingredient in cayenne, may feel hot to the skin initially; however, it binds to the body’s pain receptors, fooling the neural pathways and lessening pain over a period of time.
• Omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil supplements provide healthy fats that soothe nerves, helping to relieve pain and inflammation from peripheral neuropathy. Omega 3 fatty acids are also found in flax seeds and oil, borage oil and Evening primrose oil.
• Homeopathic remedies are effective at providing relief from peripheral neuropathies for many people. Remedies such as Plumbum Met, Phosphoric Acid, Phosphorous, Zincum Met, Pulsatilla, Graphites, Lachesis, Gelsemium, Baryta Carb, Causticum, Zincum Phos, Agaricus, Mercurius, Sulphur, Cuprum Met, and Rhus Tox. This list is not exhaustive. Consult a homeopath for the correct remedy based on your individual case.
• Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) reduce stress hormones which can be the cause of some neuropathies. Treatment eventually leads to the reduction of inflammation and pain.
• Lecithin, a fat emulsifier, will reduce diabetic neuropathy pain by working to protect the liver and pancreas from the effects of eating oils high in trans fats and hydrogenated fats. Lecithin is found naturally in the body and is important in the production and transmission of energy. The myelin sheaths that cover nerves are made primarily from lecithin. Most lecithin is made from eggs or soy and it’s important to use a product that’s organic and labeled non-GMO.
• High doses of the B vitamin, Inositol added to one’s diet has been shown to reduce pain and the frequency of peripheral neuropathies. Additionally, increase doses of vitamin B-complex — especially B-6 and B-12 — to help calm and repair damaged nerves and provide pain relief.
• Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) works to regenerate nerves damaged by diabetes and other causes. ALA is a sulfur-containing compound found naturally in the body. Some studies suggest that this antioxidant may actually improve circulation, enhance the action of insulin and reduce oxidative stress, thus preventing neuropathies.
• Keep your body alkaline by drinking a pH drink from 1 to 3 times daily. Mix 2 Tbs. fresh lime or lemon juice with 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Allow all foaming and fizzing to go flat. Add 10 – 12 oz. water and drink all at once.
• Manage pain and frequency of attacks by keeping glucose levels stable, suggests pain specialist Dr. Robert Gerwin, of Johns Hopkins University. There are a number of ways to maintain blood sugar. Eat foods lower on the glycemic index scale and avoid those whose numbers are high. Take a daily supplement consisting of cinnamon and chromium to lower glucose levels and help prevent diabetic neuropathies.
• Wear well-fitting shoes, with large toe boxes.
• Protect hands and feet in winter with warm socks, gloves and shoes that keep feet dry.
• Sit with legs uncrossed to encourage good circulation.
• Stop smoking cigarettes. Smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, worsening circulation and aggravating neuropathy pain.
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