Q. My primary care doctor prescribed Cymbalta for neuropathy, a very painful burning sensation in three of my toes. It seemed to work, but it is expensive.
The doctor I saw at the VA recommended capsicum since Cymbalta is not on their list.
The capsicum really works. In fact, I can go as long as two months between a dosing series. One toe is completely healed, and the others are much better.

A. Capsicum is the technical name for peppers, both bell as well as hot peppers. Capsaicin, the spicy essence of chile peppers, has been used to treat peripheral neuropathy, including the nerve pain that may linger after an outbreak of shingles.
Capsaicin cream must be applied repeatedly to deplete the nerve endings of something called substance P. At that point, they are less able to transmit pain sensations.
Be careful not to get the cream in your eyes or nose, as that can be extremely painful. Some people may develop an allergic reaction to capsaicin.

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  1. Helen M

    It may have been the B1, with some help from the B6 that made the difference. In Germany and other European countries benfotiamine, fat soluble B1, is used to heal nerves in those suffering with neuropathy; not only diabetics. Recently I read there is some work being done in Italy with water soluble B1, which comes in 395mg pills, up to four a day, for pain. Coincidentally it has been shown to help with fibro fatigue and pain. It might be worth a try to see if additional B1 would be helpful. There is a prescription medication, called MantanRX, or, maybe MantanX, not too sure. A neurologist recently prescribed this for a friend who has neuropathy; last I remember it is a combination of B vitamins.

  2. sk

    After a fall from a mountain bike symptoms of peripheral neuropathy intensified way above what I had experienced in the past. For several weeks my big toes would become painful at night. The pain at night eventually disappeared, but the heightened tingling continued. By chance I began taking a Vitamin B-Complex. It contains 100 mg of Thiamin, 6,667% MDR; 20 mg of Riboflavin, 1,176% MDR; and 15 mcg Vitamin B12, 250% MDR; and six other ingredients — Vitamin C, B6, Folic Acid, Biotin, and Pantothenic Acid. Immediately there was a dramatic lessening in symptom of peripheral neuropathy back to the level I had been experiencing before the accident.

  3. john

    Shingles are cured—
    I have nerve damage in my waste area that is very painful Would Cymbalta or Capsaincin help???

  4. g. staggs

    I have been diabetic for 33 years; I know how painful neuropathy can be. Take hot coffee or hot milk, mix 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric in it, sweeten to taste. This combo has helped my neuropathy and lower back pain better than any med I have taken. If you drink it while it is hot it will help neuropathy beyond belief.

  5. js2

    If I use the benzocaine-then-capsaicin formula on my husband (shingles around mid-section and fierce shooting pains through his body), do I apply it even on the rash, or must it go between outbreak areas? Or should it be applied only close to the point of origin near the spine? I don’t want to do more harm than good. He’s also experiencing a lot of referred pain.

  6. td

    When my mother got shingles, we tried just about everything to no avail. Heard about the capsaicin cream, but like a lot of folks, the burning from the capsaicin was worse than the shingle pain. So, I went to the store and bought some benzocaine cream to numb the area first before applying the capsaicin. Worked…. no burning.
    Took a while for the capsaicin to finally kill the shingle pain all together, but I definitely would recommend the benzocaine/capsaicin combination over Lyrica any day…

  7. FP

    Try surfing the web for information about cayenne pepper, which contains capsaicin (organic is best). You can start taking a little at a time in water. Inexpensive.

  8. dm

    My dear, elderly friend is suffering from shingles. You mentioned capsaicin to help relieve lingering nerve pain, but I would hate for it to intensify the pain. Any additional guidelines for use of capsaicin ointment, or do you have any other suggestions for relief?

  9. pkp

    I don’t know about capsacin, but I pretty much cured myself of Raynaud’s with grape seed extract (1-2 capsules/day). I had to take it for a while before it became effective.

  10. Helen M

    When I used this, it was an ointment; since then I have seen ads for a cream.
    Hot peppers are supposed to be good for the heart too, and they come in capsules. Just go to an online store like vitacost or iherb. I have purchased from both, the prices are good, service is excellent, and the merchandise is of high quality.

  11. DH

    I tried capsaicin cream and the burning I felt on my skin was worse than the neuropathy. Definitely will not use again.

  12. cpmt

    the book Home remedies from Peoples Pharmacy.. recommends cinnamon, astragalus root, and I am sure there are more home remedies. A few months ago someone mention other remedies that work for this disease – RAYNAUD’S disease.

  13. Helen M

    I tried this when it was only available as zostrich (sp). My neuropathy pain presents itself as burning, the capsaicin ointment increased that pain. I would get to wherever I was going and immediately have to take off my shoes and socks to cool down the pain. Yet my chiropractor swore by it.
    I definitely think it is worth a try; however, be aware, it is not a universal panacea. I control my neuropathy pain with the max dose of lyrica. Not ideal either because of the side effects, but the burning is unbearable, the side effects of the med are not.

  14. DBS

    Any idea if this would help with Raynaud’s phenomenon?

  15. cpmt

    I will like to know if this medicine is in cream only or you can take it internally ? I wonder if it will work for my hands? Thank you.

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