WORDS LIM TECK CHOON
Nerve damage or neuropathy is frequently experienced by people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes. It can also occur among people who had undergone chemotherapy. Infections and injuries are also known to cause neuropathy.
Neuropathy can affect any part of the body, and people with this condition may experience pain, weakness, and numbness especially in the hands and feet.
Lifestyle modifications and medications can provide relief to people experiencing the symptoms of neuropathy, but some people may find supplements helpful in addition to these methods.
Here are 8 supplements that are often linked to neuropathy. They may be worth discussing further with a doctor or pharmacist.
Produced naturally in the liver and kidneys, this protein substance is said to be helpful in improving nerve function in people whose neuropathy is linked to diabetes.1
Studies on its benefits to people with neuropathy due to chemotherapy yielded mixed results, however.
Some found that it could help, while others found that it offered little to no additional benefit.
#2 B-COMPLEX VITAMINS
Vitamins B-1, B-6, folate (B-9), B-12, and others help to support our nerve function, and the ability of our brain to process information that comes in through our senses. Studies often found that inadequate consumption of these vitamins may increase the risk of nerve damage, hence the theory that consumption of these vitamins may help improve nerve function among those affected by neuropathy.
Research on these vitamins have been mixed, however, and more research is needed before we can conclusively determine whether B-complex vitamins can help and if yes, the recommended dosage that will be most helpful. People interested in exploring this option should discuss this matter further with a healthcare professional.
#3 ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is said to be able to help reverse nerve damage caused by free radicals as well as to boost the effects of antioxidants in slowing or stopping nerve damage. How true is this?
Well, it has been suggested that daily supplementation with ALA can reduce the number of symptoms seen in people with diabetic neuropathy; higher dosages, however, tend to lead to more side effects such as nausea.2
Magnesium is often thought to be beneficial to people with neuropathy due to chemotherapy, but to date, studies have yielded only mixed results.
Just like magnesium, calcium is often said to be useful for people who experience nerve damage due to chemotherapy. We can’t conclusively say whether this is true or not, though, as to date, results from various studies have been mixed.
Glutamine has long been considered as useful for people who underwent chemotherapy and experienced neuropathy as one of the side effects. Just like with calcium and magnesium, studies so far on glutamine have failed to provide any conclusive evidence that this is indeed the case.
An antioxidant that is also produced naturally in the body, glutathione has been theorized to be able to help reduce symptoms of neuropathy. Research on this matter is still relatively few, and the studies conducted so far have given us only mixed results. We still can’t say for sure whether glutathione will benefit people with neuropathy.
# 8 N-ACETYL CYSTEINE
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) may help protect the nerves from inflammation and damage, so it may both reduce the risk of and treat neuropathy. Similar to the case of glutathione, the amount of research on NAC and its benefits to people with neuropathy is still relatively few. We may only get a conclusive “Yes, it helps!” or “No, it doesn’t!” response after more research has been conducted. HT
“To minimize risks of side effects and unintended interactions with your medications, always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any supplement.”
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References: 1. Sergi, G., et al. (2018). Effects of acetyl-L-carnitine in diabetic neuropathy and other geriatric disorders. Aging Clin Exp Res.;30(2):133–138. 2. Ziegler, D., et al. (2006). Oral treatment with alpha-lipoic acid improves symptomatic diabetic polyneuropathy: the SYDNEY 2 trial. Diabetes Care;29(11):2365–2370.