Foot in a vice, diabetic nerve pain, ease foot pain, help neuropathy

Neuropathy (pain, numbness or tingling, usually in the feet or hands) is caused by a malfunction of the nerves in the skin. We need such nerves to tell us about the world around us, and when they stop working properly the pain and the disorientation from the loss of function are both horrible. What can be done to help neuropathy?

Natural Remedies to Help Neuropathy:

Q. Numbness and tingling in my feet have been increasing rapidly for the past few months. I have had diabetes for over 12 years. My blood glucose level has been under control and the A1C has consistently been around 5.5.

The neuropathy started before I was even diagnosed with diabetes. Some physicians have expressed doubt it is related to diabetes.

I heard one of your radio listeners claim he got rid of nerve pain by taking curcumin. It has not helped me after a month.

I would like to know what other remedies your listeners have tried or used successfully to help neuropathy. I have been taking alpha-lipoic acid and Neurontin for years. My goal is to arrest its progression. I am terrified, as my mother became paralyzed from the waist down with neuropathy that began in the feet due to diabetes.

Consider Benfotiamine:

A. You might want to add benfotiamine to your regimen along with the alpha-lipoic acid you already take. This variant of the B vitamin thiamine prevents damage to blood vessels (Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, Dec., 2015).  It has also shown promise against neuropathy (Pharmacological Research, June, 2010).

Capsaicin Could Be Helpful:

You might also want to consider topical capsaicin, which can sometimes be helpful for easing nerve pain caused by diabetes (Journal of Pain, online, Oct. 13, 2016). As you may know, capsaicin is what makes hot peppers hot. To relieve pain it must be applied several times a day, and some people find that challenging.

Check Your B-Vitamin Status:

Inadequate levels of vitamin B12 can contribute to peripheral neuropathy, so the next time your doctor runs tests, ask to have your vitamin B12 status checked. This is often a problem for people with type 2 diabetes, because the most common drug for this condition, metformin, can deplete the body of vitamin B12. Restoring it may help neuropathy, as it did for this reader:

“My fingers and toes started tingling unpleasantly about three months ago. My internist recently did blood work and found no diabetes or other abnormalities.

“When the nurse asked me if I was still taking my usual medicines and vitamins, she mentioned B12. It dawned on me then that I had discontinued it when I was suffering from a nasty coughing spell. The tingliness began about the time I stopped taking the vitamin B12.

“The doctor wanted to refer me to a neurologist, but I asked if I could delay that until I began taking B12 again to see if the tingling disappears. I’ve just begun, but it seems to be working. Others might like to know about this.”

A combination of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B12 with gabapentin (Neurontin) was equally as effective at alleviating pain as the neuropathy drug pregabalin (Lyrica) in a clinical trial (Journal of Diabetes Research, online Jan. 17, 2016). The gabapentin combination triggered less vertigo, however. Since you are already taking Neurontin, adding 100 mg of thiamine (or benfotiamine) and 20 mcg of vitamin B12 would get you close to the regimen the researchers used.

Revised 1/2/2017

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  1. David Adan
    33418
    Reply

    Yes, B12 (4000cmg-2 capsules AM and 4000cmg PM) works for me.
    My burning sensation on the bottom of my feet stopped altogether. I cannot handle Lyrica because of bad side effects. There are various types on the market. I have a friend who suffers from seizures and anxiety. She takes medicinal marijuana and the seizures and anxiety have been reduced.

    Good Luck

  2. Irene
    Florida
    Reply

    I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy at Mayo Clinic in 1997. I knew what it was because my mom had it. I am not diabetic, neither was my mom. Unfortunately, they didn’t know what it was back then. For me it is hereditary. I also have pernicious anemia, so I had already been taking B12.
    Two problems I have are 1: Can’t take generic drugs and 2: Some meds taken by mouth are not as effective for me. I now take B-12 by injection. Had gone through everything else out there [prescribed]. Nothing worked, so I decided to try natural things. Now I also take B1 injections. B-1 in pill form did nothing. [I take the B-1 and B-12 in one shot, as I find they work better together] My legs no longer feel like there is barbed wire wrapped around them, and the burning is gone, but I still have pain in my legs and feet. I’m missing something. Any suggestions?

  3. Julie
    Buffalo,NY
    Reply

    The above accounts above are interesting. My endo believes I have MODY Diabetes (Mature Onset Diabetes of the Young), commonly found in slim built individuals; it is a form of Type 2. This particular type of diabetes is imperative to be aware of since MODY’S do not typically respond to Metformin and typically are low in insulin production not resistant. I was diagnosed about two years ago although I had been Pre for a while. My doctors were amazed to find I suffer from Atypical Diabetic Neuropathy. The previous means my symptoms do not present themselves as typical diabetic neuropathy. I had blood work, brain scan and an EMG completed to rule out other diagnoses and to confirm the Neuropathy. I am currently taking 2400 mg of Neurontin with some success. I am not completely pain-free but enough relief to stay on the Neurontin since I have few side-effects. In the past, I have tried the named supplements by themselves, however not in combination with Neurontin. Thank you for the recommendations.

  4. Sara
    CA
    Reply

    I like this B12 site: “Stichting B12 Tekort”. Some pages are in English. Click on the “English” link at top right of the home page. Or use Google translate or other translation app. Neurological symptoms and damage can happen long before a B12 serum test shows a deficiency. Countries vary in what they consider an acceptable range. A low normal in the US is 300. Whereas in Japan it is 500.

    Note: Metformin causes B12 deficiency. I don’t know how many doctors who write Metformin prescriptions warn their patients. My mother wasn’t Her eyes (cataracts and glaucoma) took a nose dive in just a few months from the Metformin which caused the B12 loss. Then she had cataract surgery with complications and after two months is still having to use drops multiple times a day. Makes me wonder, to what extent are diabetic eye problems made much worse by the drugs they are prescribed.

  5. Gail
    Delray Beach, FL
    Reply

    Yoga classes have been helping my neuropathy thanks to the stretching involved. As a reflexologist, I find weekly sessions on the feet have helped lessen the symptoms in my clients.

  6. Don
    Ellis KS.
    Reply

    when I take b-complex vitamin my feet start burning bad when I stop taking it they stop burning maybe I should be taking B-1 B-12 only thanks

  7. JuneBug14
    Houston, TX
    Reply

    Neuropathy has been a problem for me since being put on statins! Also the NON-Statin Zetia has recently caused more damage. I’ve discontinued all of these but still am suffering from the numbness and tingling. I will ask my doctor to investigate the cause next month.

  8. CP
    Springfield, MO
    Reply

    I have non diabetic Neuropathy in my feet. I’m 71, a female, and it started about 5 years ago, with burning in the soles of my feet at night. I’d get up and put my feet in cold water, which stopped it flat. I mentioned it to my doctor who put me on 300mg of Gabapentin 3 times a day. As time went by, I had to up it, until I was taking 2,400 mg a day. I read on Dr. Perlmutter’s website that if you’d take one 600mg alpha lipoic and 1,000mg of B-12 a day, that you can cut your Gabapentin in half in 8 weeks. He was right, and now I am taking 600 mg Gabapentin twice a day, and doing very well, except I have Elher’s-Danlos Syndrome, and the ligaments are tearing around my ankles, and they feel like I sprang both ankles.

  9. mildred
    raleigh, nc
    Reply

    Here is how I got the feeling back in my legs and feet. It had been getting worse and worse. Who knew — it was what I was spending a lot of time lying on.
    My very good Dr listened to my complaints each visit. Then he said that pressure on the back side can cause that. I realized I was spending a lot of time lying down and on my back and that the surface was likely uneven etc.

    He mentioned that one could rest on one side, while the other side was not ON anything, and v v. So I followed the advice and slowly and gradually all feeling returned to normal !

  10. Karen
    Buffalo
    Reply

    I have diabetes type 2, was diagnosed 8 or 9 years ago. I started to experience sharp jabbing pains periodically in my feet. Started researching, found Benfotiamine. I have been taking one capsule daily for five years, with the approval of my doctor, and the neuropathy is minimal, the pain occurs rarely and I have good feeling in my feet, they are not numb. It is readily available online and not very expensive.

  11. Joni
    Branson, MO
    Reply

    I have neuropathy caused from Cipro and Levaquin. My feet are froze all the time – difficult to sleep without heating pad. Yet they are numb. Like a club footed Eskimo. I still work. I’ve fallen twice – fractured 4 ribs. This is crazy. Nothing helps. I’ve been to every doctor and they say nerve damage is permanent. Live with it. Ruining my life.

  12. marc
    north port fl 34287
    Reply

    anything for chemo related neuropathy from 76 chemo treatments

  13. Helen M.
    Modesto
    Reply

    At first I loved the Gabapentin; I took a dose and a few minutes later I was sound asleep! It definitely helped with my diabetic neuropathy.

    Many diabetics are diagnosed when they present with nerve pain. And a good A1c is not a guarantee against neuropathy. That is only an average. Our blood sugar goes up when we eat and stays up until the medication takes effect. It is considered successful if you return to your pre-meal bg reading two hours after you eat. But there is that in-between time when you do have high numbers, and there may be some nerve damage on the micro level.

    Eventually, after raising the dose of Gabapentin several times, my neurologist said I had become immune to it. Next was Lyrica, which helped, but not as much as the Gabapentin. Several years later I am now at max doses, and the effects have waned.

    I have tried alpha lipoic acid, and nothing; but still take it for its other, not necessarily noticeable, benefits. Benfo gave me a lot of pain. Someone I consulted said healing nerves hurt; try to continue, use more pain meds if necessary. But it became unbearable, and I was not willing to use a lot of pain medication. Vitamin B1 helped too, until it didn’t, and when it stopped I had an awful flare. Not worth it. For me. Capsaicin made my burning feet hurt so much that as soon as I got to class, I took my shoes and socks off. Exchanging one pain for another also, for me, is definitely not a good choice.

    However, people are different, and I would urge anyone reading my comment this far to try whatever you can. You never know.

  14. sw
    Reply

    Is not 20mg of Vit B12 much more than high? It usually is measured in mcg.

  15. Lloyd
    Los Angeles
    Reply

    I have had almost total relief from Peripheral neuropathy since beginning use of benfotiamine and ALA. I was waking up at night with pain in lower legs and feet. Occasionally I need something more, and rubbing Aspercreme or a store brand (such as Rite Aid or CVS) on the painful area works wonders to stop the pain.

  16. Frank
    US
    Reply

    You might consult a vascular specialist. Tingling is often due to poor blood circulation, especially when it’s in one’s feet.

  17. Gary
    Arizona
    Reply

    Check with your doctor first, but my problem was statin drugs. When I stopped taking statin drugs my problem stopped immediately. The neuropathy still exists and seems to be getting better, i.e., some feeling is coming back but I won’t live long enough for it to go completely away, it’s extremely slow to heal. I also developed a rash at the same time neuropathy started and it’s still as troublesome as ever.

  18. Nancy
    Seattle
    Reply

    I’m am a bit off topic, but would like some input. My friend has been diagnosed with ALS. Her hands are quite crippled and she has only marginal use of them. Does anyone know if medicinal cannabis oil would be helpful? I appreciate any information that might help.

  19. Hugo
    So. Florida
    Reply

    Well, I know I don’t suffer from Diabetes, I have regular yearly check ups and Diabetes has never been a problem, yet I still suffer from Neuropathy on my right foot. Are the remedies you mentioned in your article still apply for me?
    Thank you,
    Hugo B.

  20. Deloris
    Reply

    I’ve been taking a combination of alpha lipoic acid (900 mg) and R-lipoic acid (300 mg) for over six months, and it has given me a lot of relief. RLA needs to be taken on an empty stomach. I tried a combination of benfotiamine and ALA, but it didn’t help much. My PN presents as numbness and tingling in my feet and lower legs but only occasional shock-like pain. It started when I was on simvastatin 6 years ago.

  21. Carol
    Reply

    Used neurontin for pain of herniated disc. Worked on pain but I had to discontinue after 2 weeks because it affected my memory. Discovered later that neurontin (and Lyrica) may also cause suicidal thoughts, so people should keep these potential side-effects in mind. Back pain still gone, but I am very careful about lifting etc. and would not use neurontin again. Elaine S C

  22. Margaret
    Reply

    I have been using benfotiamine for over a year for neuropathy in my feet & legs and have gotten 100% relief. I take 450 mg. a day, 150 mg. with each meal. One has to experiment to find the dosage necessary for relief.

  23. M
    FL
    Reply

    Be careful of neurotin!!! I had text book reaction when PA gave me some years ago. I have neuropathy and tho most associated with diabetes, chemo (for breast cancer) can also have this side effect!!!

  24. Judy
    Maryland
    Reply

    Almost everything I read about neuropathy is connected with diabetes, so it is ongoing neuropathy. My husband has neuropathy in his feet and hands because he had beri-beri years ago as a prisoner of war. It is not painful now, but it is disabling as he has a lot of trouble using his fingers for tasks like buttoning his shirt, and he stumbles often and has difficulty walking because he has little feeling in his feet. It is getting worse as he gets older; he is 75. Is there any research, or possibly home remedies, that would help this kind of neuropathy?

  25. John
    06424
    Reply

    I was on Neurontin for many years (chronic nerve pain). Blood pressure was always high for me (153/92). Once I had the Neurontin replaced with Lyrica my BP was back to normal levels within two months.

  26. Parrish
    Reply

    I have idiopathic (no cause identified) neuropathy in my toes. Progression of the numbness was very steady and the same in both feet for a couple of years. Then, for other reasons, I stopped taking vitamins and mineral supplements for a year. When I resumed, the numbness began to spread to the balls of my feet. Suspicious of a connection, I stopped taking potassium (300 mg a day). The progression of numbness stopped. It’s been almost a year. The numbness seems to be retracting, but I may just be used to it.

  27. Linda
    pA
    Reply

    My husband has neuropathy as caused by a side effect of his seizure medication. He does not have diabetes. His B vitamin level is good. What do you suggest?

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