Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Can You Help Nerve Pain with a Diet Rich in ALA?

Might you control neuropathy by consuming a diet rich in ALA (alpha lipoic acid)? One reader reports better success with diet than supplements.

Doctors often have a hard time treating nerve pain, also called neuropathy. When diabetes causes neuropathy, physicians ask patients to control their blood glucose very strictly. In addition, they may prescribe drugs such as gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica). People who prefer to avoid such medications may turn to supplements for relief. Benfotiamine and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) are often helpful against diabetic neuropathy. One reader found that consuming a diet rich in ALA effectively eased symptoms of nerve pain.

Q. For years, I had idiopathic neuropathy (loss of feeling in feet and severe leg pain at night). I heard that alpha lipoic acid could be helpful, but the supplement did not work for me.

A Diet Rich in ALA:

Then, I experienced cravings for chicken livers. It turns out that organ meats are rich natural sources of lipoic acid. For the past few years I have eaten one organic chicken liver each day. I now have full feeling in my feet and no leg pain.

For me, it seems that a diet rich in ALA is far superior to the supplement. I have recommended this tactic to a few people I know with neuropathy and they have had similar beneficial results.

Does Alpha Lipoic Acid Help Neuropathy?

A. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) has been studied as a treatment for diabetic neuropathy. A review of nondrug approaches for painful peripheral neuropathy found that supplements of ALA, vitamin B12, acetyl-L-carnitine or vitamin D in deficient patients may be helpful (Current Treatment Options in Neurology, Sept. 2, 2019).

Your approach of getting ALA from chicken livers is intriguing. To eat a diet rich in ALA, include organ meats on the menu along with vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. In addition, brewer’s yeast is a great source. Brussels sprouts, peas and tomatoes provide lower amounts of this compound.

Will an OTC Supplement Ease Nerve Pain?

Q. Quite often, I experience excruciating pain in my feet and ankles. Recently I also had pain in my wrist. The doctor says the pain comes from nerve endings.

I saw an ad on TV for Nervive. When I looked it up, I found it is not a prescription drug but appears to be herbal remedies. Are there home remedies for this pain from nerve endings?

A. You seem to be describing what doctors refer to as neuropathic pain. The over-the-counter product, Nervive Nerve Relief, contains B vitamins (thiamine, pyridoxine and cyanocobalamin). It also includes the dietary supplement alpha lipoic acid as well as extracts of turmeric and ginger. We searched for clinical trial data on this formulation, but could find no randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind studies.

The manufacturer includes this disclaimer on its website:

“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

A recent review of alpha lipoic acid (ALA) found that this antioxidant may be helpful for neuropathy due to diabetes (Pharmacological Research, March, 2022).  B vitamins, like those in this product, have been found helpful against low back pain (Semergen, Nov-Dec. 2021).

We would very much like to see a well-controlled clinical trial on this remedy. Please let us know if it works for you.

Rate this article
4.4- 332 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.