Q. My husband has suffered with polyneuropathy for three years. After his doctors said there was no cure, we located a cure at our vitamin store and want to share it with others.
He takes 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) daily. We are elated with the results. We have a neighbor who also began taking it and he too is much improved.

A. A randomized, placebo-controlled study in Russia and Israel showed that 600 mg of ALA daily can greatly ease the symptoms of neuropathy such as stabbing or burning pain, numbness and “pins and needles” (Diabetes Care, Nov. 2006).
A recent article points out that ALA is one of the few treatments that has shown promise for diabetic polyneuropathy and calls for more research (Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, online Feb. 5, 2013).
Another non-prescription approach to this problem is benfotiamine, a synthetic form of the B vitamin thiamine. We learned about it from Charles Beauchamp, MD, PhD, several years ago, and recently heard this from a reader: “I appreciate the suggestion of benfotiamine for my foot pain. Within a month it has totally cleared up, and I am ready to move to a maintenance regimen.”

You’ll find more stories about benfotiamine at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Share your experience with remedies for nerve pain in the comments below.

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  1. Yogesh
    United States

    My Burning Feet Experience
    Burning feet is a form of Neuropathy, associated with damage to nerves.

    1. No Diabetes
    2. EMG (Electro-mayo-gram), and NCV (Nerve Conduction Velocity) Tests were conducted
    – No damage to main nerves
    – Small nerves severely damaged. Cause unknown

    Prescription medications
    Doctor prescribed Gabapentin 300 mg to be taken before bed. It kept me drowsy till noon in the morning. Reduced the dosage to 100 mg. Noticed difficulty in urination (I already have enlarged prostate), increased lower back pain (I already suffer from lower-back arthritis), and increased shortness of breath (I already suffer from COPD). It was not showing any improvement, so I stopped taking Gabapentin

    Over The Counter Supplements
    I googled the net and found five supplements:
    1. R-Alpha Lipoic Acid: 200 mg
    Take one capsule on empty stomach. You feel a burning sensation in the throat. Take it with one cup of cold water to minimize burning sensation. After 20 minutes have your breakfast.
    2. Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12 Liquid form sub-lingual: 1000 mcg
    Put a dropper full under your tongue. Hold for 20 seconds and swallow. Take one dose at breakfast. Repeat one dosage before going to bed.
    3. Benfotiamine: 150 mg.
    This is synthetic form of Vitamin B1 (Thiamin). Regular Thiamin does not have same effect.
    Take one capsule with water at breakfast. Take one capsule at bed time with water.
    4. Vitamin D3: 2000 IU
    Vitamin D deficiency increases nerve damage. Last year, I was diagnosed with severe Vitamin D deficiency. It is getting better. At my age and due to my skin color I take 2000 IU every day at bed time
    5. CoQ-10 Qunol 100 mg
    CoQ-10 helps reduce neuropathy induced pain. I also take Simvastatin to lower Cholesterol; Statin drugs can cause Neuropathy, which can be offset by CoQ-10. I take one capsule at bed time

    Foods that help
    1. Among all foods, Clams are the best source of Vitamin B12. I buy Bumble bee Baby clams (10oz Can) at Wal-Mart. Each can has three servings. I eat one serving every other day
    Eggs are over all good sources of B vitamins. I eat one poached egg every morning at breakfast.

  2. Sharon W.
    Ontario Canada

    Thank you for the wonderful information. My husband is seeing a neurologist this month. We will ask about benfotiamine.

  3. Willie

    Very informative.

  4. Heather

    Has anyone had luck with taking Benfotiamine and Alpha-Lipoic Acid together? I may just try one or the other, but I don’t know if it’s too potent to combine the two for maximum nerve pain/twitching relieving results. And if so, what were the amounts you took of each? How many mg/times per day were taken? And did it alleviate your pain?! I have such problems with my left leg.

  5. Lucia

    I suffer from neuropathy (non-diabetic) apparently during back surgery my L4 nerve was cut and damaged. I get the burning, stiffness, pain and all those symptoms in my knees, I’ve never heard of anybody else getting the symptoms in the knees. I’ve been taking anticonvulsants but they make me too drowsy, unable to have a normal life. I will start taking ALA and hope to get relief. I’ll post again. Thank you

    • Ann Marie

      If you haven’t already seen a pain management specialist, you might want to consider doing so. The type of pain you describe sounds very much like the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy I have (also caused by surgery). RSD can be caused by damage to one area but spread along the spinal column to other areas. Mine started in my ankle, but has spread to my lower back because those nerves are adjacent on the spinal cord. This type of neuropathy can sometimes be reversed by a trained physician, if it is caught early. Just don’t wait too long to consult with someone who is familiar with your type of pain. Good luck!

    • Milana

      Hi hope all is well did the ALA help you relieve the symptoms?

  6. Luisa

    My husband has neuropathy in both feet from diabetes. I gave him the link to this page for him to try some of these supplements. He has tried alpha lipoic acid but I don’t know how many mlg., but he said it didn’t ease the pain. Maybe he needs to take this dose of 600 mlg. Will let you all know what happens.

  7. John H.

    I read with interest your 4/30/13 article concerning alpha lipoic acid and benfotiamine for neuropathy. I received chemo, ending in April 2012, for lymphoma. Later that year, my neurologist diagnosed me with chronic inflammatory demilinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). The doctors believe that the neuropathy results from both chemo, vincristine, and CIDP.
    The neuropathy affects mainly my fingers and legs, especially from knees through toes. I am interested in knowing how long it usually takes for ALA to show results if it is to be effective. I bought a bottle of sixty 600 mg tablets and have taken one per day; I have five left. I would appreciate comments also on benfotiamine.
    People’s Pharmacy response: Six weeks is a reasonable trial period, so it seems that the ALA is not likely to be very helpful. There is more information on benfotiamine here: http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2011/07/18/vitamin-reverses-nerve-pain/

  8. Helen M

    Frankie – no way to get out of the wheelchair? Tho people in wheelchairs do lead full lives, something that you must aim for. The best relief for pain is distraction. I find the computer very helpful, would be more if I could sit here longer. Find lists of people coping with the same painful conditions as yours and you will find support and diversion there.
    While you are concentrating on communicating with others, you will focus less on your own pain. Something that I am doing right now. I also belong to several other groups, covering my several other conditions and they have been life savers.
    In addition, have you looked into getting your compression stockings online? I follow e-bay for the stockings. Tho they have gone up in price since I started over ten years ago, it is still far less than you would pay in a store.

  9. Frankie

    Hi I got shot in Nov 2010 in the bottom of my back that hit my spinal cord (which is also horses tails of nerves) I’m L1- 2 paraplegic which means I’m in a wheelchair now I also got hit in the front of my right leg I suffer from so much nerve pain and take so much drugs and it is getting worse the only only thing that is working a little bit is tight stockings I recommend these anyone can you pls help me p.s sorry for the long message thanks

  10. Helen M

    Moe, I understand your pain, and want you to know that I am terribly sorry. I take pain pills now, awaiting knee replacement surgery, a condition too severe for supplements – tho I do continue to take my supplements. Yes, you can take turmeric with alpha lipoic acid. As you probably read in the previous comments, many people have found relief with benfotiamine.
    Relief does not mean the pain is gone, no it means enough is gone so that you may function on a normal level. Start slow with ala, take it with lunch, keep it from upsetting your stomach. Same for the others. Later, if you wish, you can spread dosing out to dinner time too.
    Search the archives here and look in places like the Mayo Clinic for your answer on deformation. I know arthritis can deform fingers and toes; perhaps neuropathy can too. Please post here again and let us know what you have learned, what you decide to us, and how it all turns out.
    I would really like to know.

  11. moe

    Does this neuropathy have a tendency to deform feet or toes I’m still trying this Ala no matter what I’m in chronic pain most of the time can I take turmeric also.

  12. D. H.

    I have been taking 600 mg of Benfotiamine for many years and it has significantly helped the neuropathy and the sciatica I was having in my legs and feet. I get my capsules online as there aren’t any retail stores selling it near my home in South Florida, although I do know of several doctors who are using Benfotiamine products in their practices here. Thank you for getting the word out…there is nothing better than happy feet!

  13. Reno Chiropractor

    I treat patients on a daily basis suffering from radiculopathy and sciatica and I have never tried recommending the ALA. Thank you for the good information, I can’t wait to recommend the ALA to my patients as I am sure they will love to try a natural supplement over another prescription medication with dangerous side effects. Thanks again.

  14. Helen M

    Unfortunately what the doctors consider well controlled diabetes has no relationship to normal numbers. A non-diabetic or non pre diabetic has an A1c in the low fours. Yes, fours. I am considered well controlled with an A1c around 6; when I was younger, with fewer other conditions, it was between 5.6 and 5.8. Most medical professionals thought I was fantastic. Because of online lists, I knew better.
    There are a lot of supplements that may help, by preventing glycation, in spite of less, or more, than normal numbers. After 30 years I have no retinopathy which I attribute to the pycnogenol I use, 50mg every day. Before pyc, I was diagnosed with the beginnings of retinopathy, that is gone, with no signs of any. There are other things that you can use the computer to research.
    Remember that supplements are very subtle and it may take a long time before you notice any changes.

  15. ShirleyL

    I have been over two years seeing doctors about the pain in my legs. I first was diagnosed with Lupus and after more testing that was negative. I’ve been told I need knee surgery, then was told after my MRI of my leg that I had muscle atrophy. This has been a long road of pain, fatigue and being limited in my daily activities. I read your article and after reading more about the vitamin supplement Benfotiamine
    I decided to try it. Just after taking two tablets my leg pain has eased some. I am hoping that it will soon relieve it completely. Thank you so much for your program and newsletters, they have helped more than once.

  16. Katbaby

    I tried to take ALA and I started off with 50mg twice a day. I had to stop using it after 3 days because it made my shoulders neck and hands felt just like my legs and feet. Burning and hurting.

  17. EH

    I wish ALA worked for everyone’s neuropathy, but it doesn’t. I’ve been taking 600 mg of ALA twice a day for years and still have numbness and pins-and-needles type pain. My diabetes is supposedly well controlled after being diagnosed 26 years ago, but complications continue to develop.

  18. Suzanne Alford-Hodges

    Supplement for neuropathy.

  19. Hanna J.

    I suffered a dislocation of my right big toe due to bad bunion in October of last year. I use turmeric, benfotiamine, and one ibuprofen, sometimes one tylenol, three times a day and get almost total relief of the pain. Five doctors have done little to help. I am not diabetic, but it runs in my family so I avoid sugar as much as possible and eat a balanced heart-healthy diet most of the time. I have recently found that compression stockings help the swelling and when it stays normal size it hurts less.
    I have orthotic shoes being made which I feel will greatly enhance my mobility. Doc is treating left foot since it appears to be at risk for same thing.
    I would like to see what research you have uncovered regarding surgery for a bad bunion. Mine is complicated by fact that I was born with a hip deformity and that hip is fused, the leg is l-1/2 inch shorter, so I have walked on that toe for all my life (now 65) and shunned “special” shoes. What I have found on line seems to be confusing, and Mayo Clinic advises it as only last resort.
    Thanks for the work you do. I don’t know what I would have done in the early phases of this thing without knowing turmeric would take away the shooting pains within about 15 minutes. We bought it in bulk and I would take about half to three-fourths teaspoon in a little water. Gulp! Now I have capsules, much more pleasant, but works the same.
    Also started swimming, working slowly at building strength, and the foot seems to be responding well to that also. Varicose veins also run in my family and it appears there are some compromised veins around my ankles. I am spoiled because I have been pretty healthy all my life, so this is a real hardship, but I intend to overcome it.

  20. Pat M.

    This ALA treatment sounds very good to me, as I also have neuropathy.
    However, I do not have diabetes. Mine started while in the hospital for an episode of diverticulitis and my feet became covered with a blistery red rash that spread up my ankles. It was very itchy – they said I probably had a reaction to the footies they have you wear. All the ointments they applied did little good. That was in 2008. I still have mottled red/purple feet and ankles that tingle, burn etc. The doctor calls it neuropathy. Before I try a new medicine, I’d like to know if ALA would work for neuropathy that is not caused by diabetes.

  21. tom m.

    I have been taking ALA for about 5 years for my neuropathy. I cannot tell you how wonderful this product has been for me. It has greatly eased my numbness and pain in my feet from this by product of having this disease called “sugar”. Please try this supplement. I take 600 mg each morning. It works wonders.

  22. MG

    I started taking Turmeric years ago after reading about it in your newspaper column. I suffer nerve damage down my left leg into my foot from a collapsed disc in my lower back, and also around my right hip from scar tissue that grew around a nerve after the surgery for the disc. It has helped tremendously and I recommend it to others. However, I will try this as I’ve started to experience “electric shocks” at night very recently. Thank you for all you do with your columns/site etc.!

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