Alternative and Complementary Medicines for Neuropathy

Alternative Neuropathy Medicine

Before using any alternative medicines and complementary treatments it is strongly recommend you receive direction from your personal physician first. Below is a listing of just a few of the Alternative and Complementary Medicines for Neuropathy we feel are worth considering:

ALPHA LIPOIC ACID

Dr. Norman Latov in his book on peripheral neuropathy along with many other doctors say a high dosage of Alpha Lipoic Acid (a vitamin-like chemical called an antioxidant) is helping many neuropathy patients in reducing pain.

Many state the R-ALA or timed released works better. Daily dosages of 800 to 1200 mg have been recommended. Dr. Julian Whitaker who has a Health & Wellness Clinic in California recommends the 1200 mg dosage.

CURCUMIN and MSG

Erika Schwartz, M.D. a holistic physician a leading expert on wellness recommends the use of the supplement Curcumin as a great anti-inflammatory that will help relieve pain. She also recommends MSM at 2000 mg per day as helpful for pain.

VITAMINS

I think that it is a good idea for patients to have levels of vitamins tested as recommended by Dr. Norman Latov, MD PhD.  Dr. Latov warns that excessive amounts of vitamin B6 can cause neuropathy, so be aware of the amount of B6 in any combination of vitamins you take.  It is best to test and then apply supplements in the opinion of many doctors who work with patients with neuropathy.

Highly recommend you purchase the book by Norman Latov, MD Neurologist in his book (from Amazon.com) Peripheral Neuropathy: When the Numbness, Weakness, and Pain Won’t Stop discusses the issues of vitamins on pages 22ff AND especially page 28. He discusses Alternative Medicines on pages 85ff.

Recommend that your doctor test your levels of vitamins to identify any deficiency or toxicity issues – see guidelines discussed in Dr. Latov’s book.

FROM DR JOHN SENNEFF BOOKS

There are two books written by John Senneff – from Amazon.com – Numb Toes and Aching Soles plus Numb Toes and Other Woes and books that share lots of information on the use of vitamins and minerals. Many patients find these books to be very patient friendly and easy to read.

FROM MIMS CUSHING BOOK OF PATIENT IDEAS

Highly recommend you purchase the book from Amazon.com by Mims Cushing You Can Cope with Peripheral Neuropathy as it is full of ideas on Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. For example, see pages 25-26; 27-28; 64; 128; 136; 137; but there is so much more in the book. Often discussed is the issue of the supplements of Alpha Lipoic Acid and COQ10.

NOTE: There are many more ideas on other complementary treatments in Mims Cushing’s book so a review of it by going to the index to look for ideas is recommended.

FROM MEDIFOCUSHEALTH.COM

See: Medi-Focus Article on Neuropathy:

The health maintenance of peripheral nerve cells include:

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) (COMMENT: Some cancer patients report lesser symptoms with B1 supplements but research needs to be done – From Infusion Center Nurse)

Vitamin B6 (COMMENT: Can be toxic if too much or cause PN when insufficient – Dr Norman Latov MD Neurologist book page 22ff)

Vitamin B9 (foliate)

Vitamin B12 (COMMENT: If your level measures less than 300 a supplement is needed to prevent PN – according to Dr Latov in his book for patients.)

Vitamin C

Vitamin E

FROM MEDIFOCUSHEALTH.COM

See Medi-Focus Health comment on Complementary Medicine in Peripheral Neuropathy.

The Role of Complementary Medicine in Peripheral Neuropathy

There are no studies to prove the efficacy or safety of most complementary and alternative therapies in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. It is important that individuals notify their health care provider if they are using any alternative therapies no matter how insignificant or benign they may seem. Various complementary therapies have been used to help manage discomfort and anxiety of peripheral neuropathy, although not all of these therapies are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  It is also important to realize that approval by the FDA does not necessarily imply endorsement.  Even if covered by Medicare, this does not imply endorsement.

Treatments include:

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – Also known as electrotherapy, TENS has been shown to be effective in reducing localized pain and discomfort for the duration of treatment in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Electrodes connected to the portable TENS unit are placed on the skin. Electric signals are then sent to the painful area, blocking or “interrupting” pain signals before they reach the brain. Pain reduction is experienced in up to 80% of patients and some data indicates that when amitriptyline is administered in conjunction with TENS therapy, pain reduction is noted in up to 85% of patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Treatment is reported to be effective even when used over a prolonged period. Various TENS stimulators have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

LOW LEVEL LASERS: I am exploring the use of low level lasers as my neurologist told me they might work… I will be doing an article on subject after I explore the facts a bit more… would be great if this is true and I think that the technology is about to hit main stream medicine …. it is new technology so I want to find the brand that has the correct settings etc…. here is the NIH Article on the subject that is most informative. Maybe it may even help you with the pain? Will explore for us and then put the article on our website.  Maybe you could print and give the article to your doctor and he might have an idea on which product might work for you?

Frequency-modulated electromagnetic neural stimulation (FREMS) – In a study involving 31 patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, FREMS was applied to the lower extremities of each patient using four electrodes that were stimulated for 30 minute sessions, with ten treatments over a six week period. Results indicated a significant reduction in pain, a significant increase in sensory tactile perception, an increase in motor nerve conduction velocity, and an increased sensation of foot vibration for at least four months. Click here for more information about FREMS:

Magnetic field therapy (MFT) – MFT involves the use of magnets which may be taped or placed over the over the area of pain in patients with peripheral neuropathy. The mechanism of action of MFT is not understood. One possible explanation of its beneficial effect on the body is its ability to change the alignment of the body’s electromagnetic fields. In a study investigating the use of special magnetized insoles for patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, encouraging results were noted. Click here to read more about MFT:

Acupuncture – Acupuncture has provided relief for some patients, although the benefits tend to be short term and frequent treatments may be required.

Biofeedback – Biofeedback is a proven technique that teaches individuals how to deal with pain by learning to divert their attention or to perceive the pain differently. It is also useful in increasing the temperature of hands and feet. This is a safe treatment method that can be very effective for some patients.

Relaxation/Massage therapy – Apprehension or anxiety about neuropathic pain may be alleviated by massage therapy for some patients.

Anodyne Therapy System (ATS) – ATS is a near-infrared medical device that may bring relief to patients with diabetic and non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy through improving circulation. Pads containing infra-red photo energy heat are placed on the skin over the affected area. The energy penetrates into the skin and the patient feels relief. Patients with painful neuropathy report an improvement in balance, sensation in their feet, and reduction of pain. Anodyne therapy has been approved by the FDA since 1994 and is used also in the physical therapy setting. While an article appearing in 2004 in Diabetes Care (vol.27(1):168-72) indicated that there was benefit to anodyne therapy, another article published in 2008 in Diabetes Care (vol.31(2):316-21) indicated that there was no difference between anodyne therapy and a sham procedure.

Do you have a treatment that has worked for? Please let us know by commenting below.

Disclaimer: Neuropathy Journal articles are intended to be educational, not diagnostic or prescriptive. Patients are encouraged to seek help and direction from their own private physician.

 

About the Author

LtCol Eugene B Richardson, USA (Retired) BA, MDiv, EdM, MS

Col Richardson has suffered with severe neuropathy for over 45 years. A 27 year military veteran and veteran of the Vietnam War, he was diagnosed with a progressive chronic peripheral neuropathy resulting in severe disability. This diagnosis has been confirmed as due to exposure to Agent Orange. It was not until 2010, 42 years after his exposure to Agent Orange, that his diagnosis was recognized by Veterans Affairs as service connected.

Author Archive Page

19 Comments

  1. Although I have tried most of these complementary ways of reducing my Neuropathic pain, the one I have found to be most helpful for me is a type of Biofeedback. I use my computer for about 50% of my pain management, I play hidden object and puzzle games, the more difficult the more pain relief; I try to work this in with my drug schedule, that way when I stop with the games the impact is cushioned. One of the drawbacks to the biofeedback method is that once you stop, the pain is sitting there just waiting to strike; but after 20 years of Neuropathy it’s not about one thing or another, it’s in the right combinations that work for you.

      1. Col richardson thank u for this page. I have adult mitochondrial diseass whicch is not respected and my neuropathy appears to have progressed. I jist had an emg which made me upset. I wanted to know in your experience do u find most people sharing this pn end up losing ability to walk? I have minimal nerve conduction on legs but muscles on right ok and left less from being injured in pt. I wont get to speak to the doctor re what this all means for my future. I dont have pain cuz that doesnt conduct. I believe a person iis mprebthan test findings. Whaylt do u think?

        1. Tzipporah: I am going to send you a personal e mail to address your concerns and issues and perhaps offer some ideas that may help.

  2. THis is more of a question. My neuropathy is ideopathic (i.e. what the…. is causing it is unknown) Is there help to be had from the metanx in ideopathic PN. COuld it possibly help.?
    Also, I am considering going to a naturopathic doctor. Is it worthwhile do you think. It is expensive and insurance doesn’t cover it. If it will help alot it is worth it. He claims he has helped people w PN, but you know how claims are. I think everyone hopes there is a natural cure. They take more of an overall health approach it seems, not just looking at the neuropathy. THe lab tests the run shown on their website appear to be very scientific. I know nothing about this stuff though.

    1. William: As you may know idopathic neuropathy simply means “of unknown cause” and many patients believe that doctors just do not have the training and skills in the diagnosis and treatment of the neuropathies and this is why this happens too often… but it is rather meaningless. With a number of tests, doctors can find out if the neuropathy is sensory, motor, small or large fiber, axonal or involves the myelin covering of the nerve, etc… clues that will help them narrow in on some possible causes or types. You need a good neuromuscular neurologist to interpret the testing and follow the clues. Dr. Latov in his book listed in the RESOURCE tab provides many of the clues that are important to you. Get it and read it. Your medical history is VERY important and any health problems you have had may provide clues.

      As for using Metanx which is used for diabetic neuropathy, since you do not know the cause, you may want to talk to your doctor about this option and bring him the information on it. If any circulation issues are involved then this may help regardless of the lack of a diagnosis. Go to this website and print out the information and give to your doctor. METANX for diabetic neuropathy. http://www.metanx.com/learn-about-metanx/

      Make sure you go to the FAQ tab and read all the q/a in that tab for you must educate yourself so you can guide the doctor.

      Go to the NSN TODAY tab and read (Diagnosis topic) what I have to say about on recent article on the DIAGNOSIS OF NEUROAPTHY and then at the end of my comments click on the lick to the entire article and print it out and give to your doctor. You are looking for a good neuromuscular neurologist who understands the tests and also what they mean. To visit a naturopathic doctor now would be like shooting a shotgun at an unknown target…. you will never know if you hit it or not. After you have a good diagnosis and know a possible cause you may want to consider such a visit but I would not do this before.

      Hope this helps…if not come back at us.

  3. I was possibly exposed very briefly to agent orange or something when I was in my early twenties. I worked at at testing lab and a sample was brought in from a place that made agent orange. Could a very brief and small amount of agent orange cause problems in someone Like PN or depression which I also suffer from?

    1. William

      The research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterarian Medicine in Dec 2007, the research noted in a report to the Insitute of Medicine (IOM) that any level of exposure to Agent Orange is dangerous. This is the research that ended the legal games the VA was playing with veterans with cancers back in the 1990’s. Unfortunately, the VA designed other games providing for some cancers but not all. The research also showed that dioxin is a toxin of the worst order, a carcinogen causing all site cancers, and destroys or damages the very basic cell of the human body. and often years after exposure. Inspite of what the VA claims it does cause CHRONIC peripheral neuroapthy progessing for years after exposure. We also know that because of genetics that some people are more prone to damage than others. It is the same principle as to why some smokers get lung cancer and others do not get lung cancer. Genetic predisposition.

      Please go to the VETERANS/ AGENT ORANGE tab on the website for more information. If your neuropathy is progessive and there is found no other cause for it, it is highly probable that it is due to your exposure to agent orange. If this may be true than a spinal tap should be done to determine if it is indeed an immune medicated neuropathy or a trial of IVIg should be done to see if your symptoms respond as suggest by an opinion paper by 21 expert neurologists.

      Let me know if this helps.

    1. Michelle: The EMG can be normal and you still can have a Peripheral Neuropathy! First did the doctor take your health history serious and really look at it as this often is a clue to what is going on in regards to a neuropathy as there are over 100 causes. Second, did they do a Nerve Conduct Test for large fiber damage. Did they do an evoked potentials to see if there was damage to the autonomic nervous system? Remember all these tests look for DAMAGE and do not indicate whether you have neuropathy or NOT! See the article on Have Neuropathy – So Why are Tests Normal? https://neuropathyjournal.org/have-neuropathy-so-why-are-tests-normal/ and also the one on Will My Neuropathy Get Worse https://neuropathyjournal.org/will-my-neuropathy-get-worse/ The most important factor is to identify a cause or type and possibly find a treatment BEFORE these tests show damage not after!! See Dr. Norman Latov MD PhD book for patients Peripheral Neuropathy: When the Numbness, Weakness, and Pain Won’t Stop by Norman Latov MD PhD FAAN and order a copy at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Norman+Latov+Peripheral+neuropathy

  4. The information about FREMS is interesting. I did a search and can’t find any clinics in the Eastern PA or Western NJ area. Is this still too new? Are more foot doctors starting to explore using this treatment?

    What are your thoughts on Medical Marijuana? I’ve read many articles stating that it can help with nerve issues such as PN. It was just legalized in Pennsylvania where I live and Peripheral Neuropathy is one of the conditions that was approved.

    1. Mike: I will respond to your issues and the fact that medical marijuana does help many patients. Every time I am at the hospital and watch cancer patients suffer from the effects of chemotherapy and then are placed on a pill of basic marijuana that reduces the many unpleasant symptoms from the chemo I wonder why we are taking so long in using something that appears to benefit so many patients. I will send you a personal E mail and address this further and other issues you raised.

  5. I just turned 50 and am just utterly dismayed my neuropathy continues to worsen even when I didn’t think it could get more intense… I am a RN with extensive experience, I am shocked about the prevalence of this life destroying disease process and worry about ambulatory and driving. I have idiopathic small and large fiber/nerve neuropathy, I have tried all treatments without relief over the past 4-5 years. I am on a Fentanyl Patch 75mg every 72yrs and continue to have 10/10 pain and I have known pain, carrying a baby to near full term and unable to go on bed rest due to financial issues, I made a brace and carried in! There simply has to be something out there! I take Tumeric 1200 twice daily and find it wearing off when due like an analgesic,(be it in my head or not) Epsom salt foot baths and aromatherapy…. Also keeping blood sugar regular and avoiding food high in sugar even though I am not a diabetic!.
    I do find stress and a curry feeds the pain and makes it so much worse! I keep my feet moisturised 2-3 times per day, the numbness is increasing with the pain, my MD is talking about IVIG at $15k a month which is not an option! The latest visit to a pain management MD suggested Oxycodone or Marijuana . I truly wish MD’s had a clue about the cost of suggested treatment. Can I use Marijuana and work, drive etc???

    1. Sharon: IVIg is covered by most insurance and the copay for many companies can be written off if you cannot afford to pay it. Obviously your doctor believes you have an immune mediated neuropathy and such is treated with IVIg. Will send more information by an E mail direct to you.

  6. Lt.Col. Richardson
    Thank you Sir for all of your hard work to help others with PN. I am a 100% SDV Navy, a Corpsman. I damaged my back and neck in an accident at Camp LeJeune in 1987. My primary pain problem is PN, arthritis, fibromyalgia. Since 2010 I have been having a hyperreative rash and it is starting to look like I may have neuro immune issues. They have not been able to diagnose the rash. I have been to the VA, private and Johns Hopkins Dr. I am one of those who was exposed to the toxic water at Camp LeJeune and much like those with agent orange we have to fight to have our illness service connected. I am trying to get back over to JH because of nerve damage of the brachial plexus. primary meds lyrica, effexor, and clonazepam. break through is vicodin. I am worried about long term use of lyrica as i have been on it since it came out and am learning that there maybe long term nerve death from it in a stanford study. I am really at a loss as to what to do. I did get relief from acupuncture and battlefield accupuncture. I guess i am trying to figure out where i can go next for pain relief. the va is working on basically phasing out opiates. Basically any suggestions would be helpful. Very Respectful

    1. Deborah: God bless. I have some ideas and will share those by E mail direct to you.

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