What are some Natural Remedies for Neuropathy? Neuropathy is a debilitating condition that can cause severe pain, numbness, and tingling in the extremities. It often occurs when there’s nerve damage, such as due to uncontrolled sugars in diabetes, other conditions, or injuries.
Neuropathy is often treated with medication or physical therapy, but depending on the cause, your nerves may not heal completely or may take a very long time before they can begin functioning properly. That being said, natural remedies for neuropathy exist, which can help fasten this process.
These remedies can also help cut down on the cost of treatment and prevent the complications associated with the medication.
Keep reading to earn more about what you can do to restore your nerve function naturally.
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What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a condition that occurs when there’s damage to the nerves in the body. Your nerves transmit sensory information to the brain, control your muscle movements, or regulate your body’s internal systems like body temperature, blood pressure, etc.
Usually, neuropathy affects the peripheral nervous system (the part of the nervous system that lies outside the brain and spinal code) rather than the central nervous system (brain and spine).
According to a 2014 National Institutes of Health study, peripheral neuropathy is estimated to affect nearly 20 million people in the US alone.
Neuropathy most often affects the hands and feet, but it can also affect other parts of the body.
Causes of Neuropathy
There are many potential causes of neuropathy, including diabetes, physical injury, inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, and certain medications. In some cases, the exact cause of neuropathy may be unknown, but treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and slowing or stopping nerve damage.
1. Diabetic neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs in people with diabetes.
It’s one of the most common causes of neuropathy, and it often occurs gradually as a result of long-term exposure to high blood sugar levels.
Too much glucose in the blood can irritate and damage the nerves, impairing their ability to transmit signals.
Diabetic neuropathy often starts in the feet and legs, followed by the hands, arms, and other parts of the body.
2. Physical injury to the nerve
Having a physical injury to the nerve can also damage the nerve leading to neuropathy. It’s a common cause of acquired single-nerve injury. Best examples include injury from automobile accidents, sports, falls or, radiation, and other medical procedures.
A physical injury can crush, stretch, compress, or detach the nerves from the spinal cord resulting in their damage.
This type of injury may heal with time; however, in some cases, the symptoms can only lessen but not completely disappear.
If your nerve was only traumatized or bruised, it could easily recover after 6-12 weeks, while a nerve that has been cut will begin to grow after four weeks of rest following the injury, with about 1 mm of growth per day. So, this will take longer before you can completely recover.
3. Autoimmune conditions
Autoimmune conditions occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy tissues, including your nerve tissues.
Common autoimmune conditions leading to neuropathy include:
- Psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
Most people know inflammation as the root cause of chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer, but did you know it can also cause neuropathy?
Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or autoimmune diseases can also cause nerve damage.
5. Viral infections
According to research, a viral infection can activate disease-fighting cells with receptors for both virus and nerve protein, which incites the body to attack its own nerve tissues, causing nerve damage. A good example of such conditions is shingles.
6. Side effects of chemotherapy
Peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect of chemotherapy medications, with a prevalence from 19% to about 85% clinically.
This kind of damage is often sensory but can be accompanied by motor and autonomic changes to some extent.
The severity of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy will depend on the dosage. The symptoms will also disappear with time. This can take up to a few months after treatment.
7. Too much alcohol intake
Often known as alcoholic neuropathy, this condition occurs when the nerves are damaged due to too much ethanol from excessive alcohol intake. This often affects the nerves that control movement and sensation as well as those that regulate internal body functions (autonomic).
Common symptoms may include muscle weakness and cramps, erectile dysfunction in men, constipation, diarrhea, and issues with urination.
8. Idiopathic neuropathy
Idiopathic means the cause is not known. About 30% of neuropathy cases have no known cause.
Every nerve in the body has a function to perform, so symptoms may vary depending on the type of nerve affected.
Common classifications of nerves include:
Sensory nerves: These receive sensations in the skin, such as pain, temperature, vibrations, or touch.
When these nerves are affected, they can present with symptoms such as
- Feeling like you’re wearing gloves and stockings when you’re not
- Tingling or a prickling needle-like sensation is often felt in the feet and hands but can spread towards the legs and arms
- Burning sensations
- Stabbing, shooting, or throbbing pain in the hands and feet with no obvious cause
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Inability to feel pain or temperature changes with hot or cold
Motor nerves: These are responsible for controlling muscle movements including waking, holding things, and talking.
Damage to these nerves can result in
- Muscle weakness
- Painful cramps
- Uncontrollable twitching
- Muscle shrinkage
- Difficulty grasping and picking up things
- Problems with walking or moving your arms
Autonomic nerves: These control various functions, including perspiration, blood pressure, bladder function, digestion, and heart rate.
This form may present with:
- Excessive sweating or not sweating at all
- Heat intolerance
- A drop in high blood pressure leads to dizziness and lightheadedness
- Bladder, bowel, or digestive issues
- Irregular heart rate
Natural Remedies for Neuropathy
While the treatment for neuropathy will depend on the cause of nerve damage, many natural remedies can help ease the symptoms and promote recovery.
Some of the most effective natural remedies for neuropathy include:
Cayenne pepper is one of the most effective natural remedies for neuropathy. The active ingredient in cayenne pepper, capsaicin, is a potent analgesic that can help to relieve pain.
Capsaicin works by inhibiting the release of the substance P, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pain transmission.
Cayenne pepper can be taken in capsules or applied topically as a cream or ointment.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is one of the most important vitamins for nerve health. It helps keep the nervous system healthy and working properly. This means a deficiency can lead to nerve damage and neuropathy.
Different plant food sources can offer vitamin B12, such as fortified foods, mushrooms, and nutritional yeast. However, the amounts in these foods may not be sufficient to offer the needed results.
If you’re on a plant-based diet, ensure you get enough of this vitamin by incorporating a high-quality supplement from a reputable source.
Alpha-lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant that is effective in the treatment of neuropathy, especially from cancer treatment or diabetes.
It has been shown to increase diminished levels of glutathione, another powerful antioxidant that can help with chemotherapy-related neuropathy, diabetes-related neuropathy, and neuropathy of unknown origin.
Alpha lipoic acid has also been shown to prevent hyperglycemia-induced oxidative damage that can further damage the nerves.
Additionally, it prevents nerve glycation. This occurs when protein in the body interacts with certain compounds to release advanced glycation end products, which can accumulate in the peripheral nerves, causing damage.
Alpha-lipoic acid is available in supplement form and can also be found in foods such as spinach, broccoli, beets, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Research shows that regular exercise can improve nerve functions and reduce neuropathic pain and other sensory dysfunctions like numbness.
Also, exercise improves circulation and can help reduce inflammation, both of which can improve overall nerve functions.
Additionally, exercise strengthens bones and muscles, which can support the nerves and prevent further damage.
Besides, exercise is the best natural remedy for improving insulin resistance and, thus, proper glucose regulation, which can also lower nerve damage.
Some of the best exercises to perform for neuropathy include:
- Aerobic activities like walking, swimming, cycling, and jogging. These can increase the release of endorphins, which act as natural painkillers.
- Balance training like leg and calf raises. These can improve muscle and joint stiffness associated with peripheral neuropathy. As a result, you’ll have more stability and lower your risk of falling.
- Stretching exercises: This increases your flexibility and reduces the risk of injury when exercising.
- Isometric exercises that target the trunk and extremities. This involves contracting your muscles without moving any joints. It has been shown to improve blood flow and reduce pain.
Magnesium is a necessary mineral that is important for many body processes, such as nerve transmission, muscular contraction, and immune system upkeep. Lack of magnesium has been linked to both the onset and worsening of neuropathy symptoms.
Lack of magnesium can exacerbate the discomfort and irritability of nerves in neuropathy, as well as cause cramping and spasms in the muscles. Magnesium supplements can assist control nerve activity, lowering discomfort, and enhancing general nerve health.
Magnesium supplements come in a variety of forms, such as magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium oxide. To support the maintenance of appropriate magnesium levels, foods high in magnesium can also be included in the diet. Examples include spinach, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and avocados.
It is important to note that magnesium can interact with certain medications, such as antibiotics and diuretics, and excessive magnesium intake can cause side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. Therefore, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting magnesium supplementation, especially if you have an existing medical condition or are taking medications. Your healthcare provider can help determine the appropriate dosage and form of magnesium for your specific needs.
6. Quit smoking
Quitting smoking will not only improve your overall health, but it may also help reduce your neuropathy symptoms. This is because smoking is a major risk factor for nerve damage, and it can make existing nerve pain worse.
According to research, increased smoking increases neuropathic pain, and for those with diabetes, the effects are greater.
Quitting smoking can be difficult, but many resources are available to help you succeed. Talk to your doctor about quitting smoking, and ask about nicotine replacement therapy or other medications that can help. You can also find support from family and friends, online support groups, and quit-smoking programs.
7. Warm baths
Warm baths are an easy and convenient way to relieve neuropathy from the comfort of your home. They can help to ease the pain and discomfort of neuropathy by relaxing the muscles and nerves.
That being said, be careful not to burn yourself if your ability to feel temperature changes is compromised. The best thing is to have someone prepare the water for you.
Turmeric is an ancient spice that has been used for centuries in India and Asia for its medicinal properties. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and is effective in treating neuropathy.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These effects may help reduce symptoms of neuropathy, such as pain, numbness, and tingling.
If you’re interested in trying turmeric for neuropathy, buying a high-quality product is important. Look for a supplement that contains at least 95% curcuminoids, the active compounds in turmeric. You can also add fresh turmeric root or powder to your food. Start with a small amount and gradually increase as tolerated.
Also, don’t forget to pair your turmeric with some black pepper to boost its absorption.
9. Massage therapy
Massaging your feet is the best way to relieve the tingling, numbness, burning, or pain associated with neuropathy. This is because massage loosens the muscles, which places less pressure on the nerves, thus relieving the symptoms.
Also, massaging boosts circulation and promotes nutrient delivery to areas that need it most, like the damaged nerves in this case.
Neuropathy can be difficult to manage, but luckily there are natural remedies you can use to help relieve your symptoms. From acupuncture and massage therapy to herbal supplements, vitamins, and exercise, there are many natural remedies available that may provide relief from the symptoms of neuropathy.
If you’re looking for an alternative to prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs, exploring these options may be just what you need.
Talk with your doctor about any possible treatments so that together you can find the best way for you to manage your condition.
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