Q. I heard a caller on your radio show talk about a vitamin for peripheral neuropathy and restless leg syndrome. What is it? Can you tell me more?
A. The compound is benfotiamine, a synthetic form of thiamine (vitamin B1). It has been used in Germany to treat peripheral neuropathy due to diabetes. Our caller, a physician, says the dose is 300 mg twice daily to start with; maintenance is 150 mg twice a day. Benfotiamine is available without a prescription, but not all pharmacies carry it.
When he called, we had forgotten that we’d heard from other listeners several years ago about the same compound: “I have suffered for about four years from an intermittent, sharp ‘electric’ pain on the sole of my left foot. Recently it became worse and was interfering with my sleep.
“I heard you speaking about peripheral neuropathy and a diabetic caller said her doctor had recommended ‘benfotiamine.’ This had returned feeling to the bottom of her feet for the first time in many years.
“After reading all I could find on the subject, I ordered benfotiamine and began taking it. Within 24 hours my pain had almost completely disappeared and the very isolated recurrences are comparatively mild.”
A placebo-controlled trial for diabetic neuropathy found a significant benefit for pain (Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes, Nov., 2008). We could find no trials of benfotiamine to treat restless leg syndrome, but it could be worth a try.

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  1. Joyce

    I am looking to try anything to help with the pain, I have tingling, burning, spasms, numbness on a daily basis. I have a herniated disc in my back. Dr. prescribed 900mg of gabapentin 3 times a day. I can only take at bedtime to help me sleep, makes me sleepy if I take throughout the day. This pain is unbearable, I can hardly walk, no more running for me, it hurts so bad. Please respond!

  2. Carolyn

    I have three questions about benfotiaomine and alpha lipoic acid. First, are they both considered effective for idiopathic peripheral neuropathy (e.g., for non-diabetics)? Second, if so, what are the recommended dosages for each? Third, should alpha lipoic acid be taken with food or on an empty stomach? I have seen instructions both ways. Thank you.

    • PM

      Did you get a reply? This would be my question also. I do not have diabetes but I have variable foot pain which I think has to do with a vitamin deficiency but not sure.

  3. Trent

    I am new here, was interested if anyone had good experience with thiamine for neuropathy.

    • Joy
      Raleigh, NC

      How long do you take 300 mg 2 xs a day of Benfotiamine for non diabetic neuropathy?

  4. Kat

    After hip replacement along with other normal symptoms I have a not so normal one! I am 58 years old just want to be productive again !! Anyway I was put on gabapentin 300mg 3xs day I began go have memory loss so much I felt I would go crazy ! I began walking as if I had MS !! Scared me and got off of it!! My symptom is the top of my feet feel broken ! They are testing me for neuropathy ! Try anything else before you go on gabapentin!! I’m going to be one of the lucky ones ! A long time friend has her Masters in Holistic Med and is guiding me through my long painful journey! On that med I wasn’t me and I no longer wanted to be here!! Thank you Kathy Ann for coming back to me when I needed you most!!! Xoxo

  5. Regine
    United States

    I have the sinus tarsi syndrome for over a year and acute sciatica and nothing gets better. I take vit B12 and gabapentin 3×300 mg per day. I’m kind of desperate, I’m going to try B1, any other suggestion? Thank you

  6. Dan

    There could be many, many reasons or causes for neuropathy. Not sure what to recommend if the pain/tingling is a result of a car accident, but neuropathy can be a result of low B12 levels (especially methylcobalamin), and spinal degeneration can be a result of low b12 levels.
    Neuropathy could be due to poor circulation, so other antioxidants like vitamin E or tocotrienols may help. Dr. Derrick Lonsdale, one of the world’s experts on thiamine, says that he had some patients who became B12 (and folate) deficient, if they were on high doses of thiamine.
    Personally, I would avoid gabapentin, except as a last resort, as it does nothing to repair the possible nerve damage. All it does is temporarily suppress the pain.

  7. Jack

    Unfortunately my daughter has not received much relief with benfotiamine either, not much help but all the best with your treatment.

  8. brenda

    I’ve had neuropathy in my feet for 2 years, and it’s related to an allergic reaction to Bactrim. I’ve been on Gabapentin for 1.5 years, but it hasn’t helped that much. I’ve been taking the Benfotiamine 600 mg for 60 days, and it doesn’t seem to be helping me. I’m also taking Alpha Lipoic Acid 600mg. Any suggestions on anything that might help?

  9. stone

    Does anyone know if the benfotiamine works for tarsal tunnel syndrome? I have had this for several years now and nothing seems to help.

  10. alxzba

    would like to receive future comments. Have neuropathy in feet/lower legs. Any help appreciated. thanks for the lead.

    • teataster

      For diabetics like me suffering from peripheral neuropathic pain, this gel offers some relief. In combination with high doses of methylcobalamin (vitamin B12) + Benfotiamine, a synthetic form of thiamine (vitamin B1) along with evening primrose oil (EPO 300 mg) will in a period of about 2 to 3 months give you good results.

      Note there is no cure but you can halt the degeneration of the nerve endings by supplementation, regular exercise and overall good control of blood sugar levels. Massage therapy helps and so does dipping your feet alternatively in hot and cold water. This enhances micro circulation of blood to the fine blood vessels.

  11. JACK

    I have read with interest the impact on neuropathy pain of benfotiamine. My 20 year old daughter has severe chronic back pain as a consequence of a car accident 2 years ago, just completed a 3 week pain management clinic at leading Australian Hospital. Whilst limited physical issues her brain seems to trigger severe dagger like electric pulses which last for half an hour or so almost on a daily basis, other times a duller sort of pain. Pain Clinic treatment based on desensitisation, NO DRUGS. Just wondering if we should try benfotiamine.

  12. th

    Erhan, have you had any success? I am also interested in an answer to this question.

  13. Lizette

    THANK YOU Dr Charles!
    I appreciate your explanation in layman’s terms…it helps everyone get a little better idea on how nutrients flow in and out of the cells. I knew immediately that the difference was water vs fat soluble, but I did not realize the importance of those differences for treating neuropathy pain until now.
    Thanks again!

  14. Dan

    This may sound insulting…it is not meant as such, but for those asking where they can buy benfotiamine, my goodness, have you ever thought of googling online for sources? It’s been available for YEARS on Amazon, just as one example, and can be purchased at many other online supplement sites.

  15. Ellie

    I am 83 yrs old. Suffered a bout of shingles this past October and PHN ever since. Was put on a low dose of gabapentin which did not seem to help much; however when dose was lowered, pain increased and began in places not affected previously. I have only today read about benfotiamine and R-alpha lipoic acid to treat neuropathy pain. I am anxious to try both in the near future.

  16. susan B

    Jan S. I’m 73 and my dr. put me on Gabapentin the day after Christmas because of an acute attack of peripheral neuropathy. It worked wonders. However, I’m still sexually active and cannot attain an organism. In checking the “crazy” side effects, this is one of them.
    I would recommend it if this is not a problem for you. I’m scheduled for a nerve conduction test next month and will make a decision whether to continue with the Gabapentin or look for another drug.
    My dr. advised against the benfotiaomine for me as I have a fatty liver and, as it’s a fat soluble vitamin the excess doesn’t wash out of the system as a water soluble vitamin will (such as C).

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