The People's Perspective on Medicine

Vitamin B Derivative Eases Painful Feet

Q. I have suffered from sharp pains in my feet diagnosed as peripheral neuropathy. I heard on your radio show that a supplement called benfotiamine might help. I tried it and feeling has returned and the pain is gone. Thanks!

A. Benfotiamine is a synthetic derivative of the B vitamin thiamine. A placebo-controlled study (Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes, Nov., 2008) found that this supplement is helpful against peripheral neuropathy.

Charles Beauchamp, MD, PhD, brought this supplement to our attention. He offers the following explanation and experience:

“Thiamine is a water soluble B-vitamin. Benfotiamine is thiamine modified to make it fat soluble. The model for why a fat soluble thiamine is better than a water soluble thiamine is as follows:

“Thiamine must cross a lipid (fat) bilayer to go from the extracellular space to the intracellular space. Fat soluble vitamins are more likely to go from the extracelluar (in the circulating blood) to the intracellular space.

“Once thiamine (in the form of benfotiamine or otherwise – normal water soluble thiamine) goes into the intracellular space it must be converted into thiamine pyrophosphate to become the active cofactor of the enzyme, Transketolase. This enzyme is very important in minimizing the harmful effects of glucose molecules that otherwise will increase the amount of [damaging] oxygen free radicals in the cell. Benfotiamine gets converted to thiamine pyrophosphate more readily than does regular thiamine.

“When thiamine pyrophosphate is bound by Tranketolase this enzyme minimizes oxidative stress caused by glucose. As I tell my patients, we are all rusting, some faster than others. When there is more oxidative stress, there is more uncontrolled oxidation (or ‘rust’) being produced inside the cell. By being an important cofactor of the enzyme Transketolase, Benfotiamine (converted readily to thiamine pyrophosphate) acts as an antioxidant, not by scavenging free radicals one by one BUT by acting enzymatically to decrease the flux of free radicals in the cell.

“When there is an increase in free radicals inside or outside the cell, ‘small vessel problems’ that lead to a decrease in blood flow to tissue become more likely. When tissue gets less blood flow, pain can result as in microvascular angina. This occurs in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. There are a number of articles in medical literature about the anti-oxidative stress actions of Benfotiamine.

“I suggest going online to identify sources of benfotiamine through online purchase. Local pharmacies and a very few but growing number of health food stores will stock it but generally charge about 30 dollars per 120 caps. It can be purchased for about 18 dollars online. Since I hand it out to patients, I purchase it in quantity for about 11 dollars per bottle. When purchased in quantities of 12 it is discounted to about 11 to 12 dollars per bottle. If one knows others with painful peripheral neuropathy, it is worthwhile going together to make a purchase. The source of the “pharmaceutical grade” Benfotiamine from Benfotiamine Inc. is www.benfotiamine.net (NOT .com).”

Rate this article
star-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-empty
4.6- 41 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
Get the latest health news right in your inbox

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

Screenshots of The People's Pharmacy website on mobile devices of various sizes
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.

Showing 26 comments
Comments
Add your comment

After two lumbar fusion surgeries (2004 and 2005) I began having recurring episodes of extremely painful zapping-type sensations in my legs. Neurologists were of no help in identifying the cause of the episodes nor what to do about it. I can’t remember how I learned about benefotiamine but somewhere around 2010 I began buying benfotiamine from an online website. Guidance on how much to take and how often to take it was woefully missing but somewhere (Peoples Pharmacy perhaps?) I read that a doctor had prescribed four, 60mg capsules per day so I began taking that, and it has been truly a life-changer for me.

I still get the zapping episodes infrequently but the frequency is greatly reduced by the benfotiamine. Several weeks ago I tried reducing to two 60 mg capsules/day and almost immediately I got the zapping on the inside of my left thigh. My tens unit stopped the attack after of about 4 hours. I returned to the four 60mg capsules/day routine and have not had another occurrence of zapping since then.

Shipping from online websites can be free with a minimum order. I have found it to be reliable in getting my orders out quickly and have yet to find any errors in what they shipped nor what they charged.

I have severe pain in my feet because of diabetes. I did research and found Benfotiamine and Alpha Lipoic acid both help with foot pain. I use both. I have not had one pain since I started using these supplements about 3 months ago. I had foot pain all of the time before that.

Several of the patients sound like they may have CRPS, complex regional pain syndrome. It used to be known as RSD or Causalgia.

There are websites that help with tips to cope with the pain but there is no known complete cure. Just knowing you aren’t crazy and having information helps a great deal.
Try http://www.RSDHope.org
I will try the bentofotiame and hope it helps.

Years ago in 1997, Svere joint pain (left wrist and right ankle) attacked me with inflamation. Some doctors considered it non specific arthriits while others said it TB Arthritis. In the year 2001, it was operated and diagnosed with TB Arthritis. However, till that time some joints of the wrist were wasted. TB medications were started and continued for 14 months (till December 2002) without vita 6. During the usage of medicine, breathing doscomfort, sore tongue and burning face was started. In July 2007, sever burning feet and legs attacked for which numerous medicines were used (Dolan, Epival CR 500, Arcalion, ronirol etc.). NCS and all other blood tests are normal. Medications for heavy metal neuropathy effected adversely. Doctors advised for walk but during walk, all is well but after walk there is a severe increasing pain. Pain decreases on small movement of legs but without motion it is a severe pain. Have some relief by using Alpha Lipoic Acid, but the relief is not constant rather it is varying.

Years ago in 1997, Svere joint pain (left wrist and right ankle) attacked me with inflamation. Some doctors considered it non specific arthriits while others said it TB Arthritis. In the year 1997, it was operated and diagnosed with TB Arthritis. However, till that time some joints of the wrist were wasted. TB medications were started and continued for 14 months (till December 2002) without vita 6. During the usage of medicine, breathing doscomfort, sore tongue and burning face was started. In July 2007, sever burning feet and legs attacked for which numerous medicines were used (Dolan, Epival CR 500, Arcalion etc.). NCS and all other blood tests are normal. Medications for heavy metal neuropathy effected adversely. Doctors advised for walk but during walk, all is well but after walk there is a severe increasing pain. Pain decreases on small movement of legs but without motion it is a severe pain. Have some relief by using Alpha Lipoic Acid, but the relief is not constant rather it is varying.

Please subscribe

I have chronic neuropathy from diabetes. I’m prescribed Lyrica been taking 100 mg. a day in eve. suppose to take 300mg. a day. I’m afraid to. I gain weight fast like 30lbs. in 4 months feel tired. no energy. terrible always. helps some.

My first night with none. It’s bad, needles sticking me all over my body, itching, can’t sleep. Upset stomach. Nervous. .but I’m alert. I want off of Lyrica. Been on for 5 years. What can I take that won’t have these side effects? ? Natural. I’m sure I’m going through withdrawal. Please help! I’m 62 now.

Hi Marie,
My idiopathic peripheral neuropathy is just in my feet. I have no pain, no burning, no tingling but numbness from toes to heel and the discomfort that goes with that. I’m learning to live with both. I have heard and read that my feet will never ever feel the way they were before the neuropathy.
I had all the neurological tests except skin punch biopsy. I take NO medication and apart from the benfotiamine the only other supplement that I take, is an omega 3 capsule every other day. I plan to add a low dose of R-lipoic acid beginning the 1st September. I have read some good things about it.
I got rid of that buzzing, vibrating sensation in my foot by increasing the dose of benfotiamine from 300 mg a day (one capsule of 150 mg, twice a day) to 600 mg a day (2 capsules, twice a day). It worked like a miracle for me. That buzzing, vibrating sensation was gone in 48 hours and I am able to fall asleep once again ! THANK GOD.
I continued with 600 mg a day for one week and I’m back to taking 300 mg a day. As you can see I’m very cautious even with supplements.
iI walk a lot and exercise at a gym several times a week. I’m more conscious of the numbness when I’m not moving about. I try to get all my nutriments from food, I don’t eat junk food. Next week I have an appointment with an acupuncturist, I’ll see how that goes.
I hope this is of some help.

Hi Zqicvs
How are you doing these days? Read your article on People’s Pharmacy on IPNeuropathy. I suffer from Idiopathic small fiber neuropathy for three years now. I have many symptoms including tingling, bad buzzing and bad burning in my feet,legs hands and feet. I do not have any numbness like you.
I take 350 Lyrica a day. It doesn’t help much for my pain. Ive been taking 150 mgs Benfotiamine a day for over 2 yrs now. I do not notice a diff with the B1. I am trying to wean off of lyrica. Im on day 8 taking away 25 mgs a day. (I should have ripped up the script like you!)
Are you still taking 600 mgs benfotiamine a day? Is it still helping with the vibrating buzzing pain in your feet? Like you, my neuropathy is Idiopathic and am otherwise healthy. (so they say). How are you feeling and do you have any other pain or discomfort other then the numbness in your feet? Do you take any pain meds?
Please let me know what kind of “neuropathy” you have and how it was Dx. My EMG/NCS came out normal. Just the small fibers are involved. Mine was DX by skin punch Biopsy.. I can use all the suggestions and comments I can get. I hope your doing well. Thanks…
In pain and depressed in NY, USA
Marie

I started taking 1 capsule of benfotiamine a day since October 2013. I suffer from idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. I have numbness from toes to heel of both feet but no pain so to speak of. I do a lot of walking most days and exercise 4-5 times a week. I usually have no problem falling asleep and sleep between 7 and 8 hours a night. A week ago I started having a buzzing, vibrating sensation deep in the sole of my left foot. As long as I was up and about I did not notice the discomfort but as soon as I was off my feet then the sensation drove me crazy. Sleep was impossible and hours later when I did fall asleep it was from sheer exhaustion. I decided to increased my dosage of benfotiamine, taking 2 capsules (300 mg) in the morning and 2 capsules in the evening. Within 24 hours the sensation in my foot was greatly diminished and within 2 days that buzzing, vibrating sensation was gone ! I will continue to take 4 capsules (600 mg) a day.
In December of 2013 I had a complete neurological examination and the neurologist said that my neuropathy had not changed since my last visit three and half years ago. I take no medication, though 4 years ago one neurologist did prescribe LYRICA when the numbness was mostly in my toes. When I told him I was very fearful of the side effects of this drug he almost threw out of his office saying that Lyrica was a great and safe medication with almost no side effects and nobody has ever died from it. I walked out of his office, tore up the prescription and threw the pieces in the first garbage container I saw on the street.
I read about benfotiamine in people’s pharmacy and ordered several bottles directly from benfotiamine.org. My order was filled by Debbie. I spoke to her a couple of times while I was making my order as I don’t live in North America. I find her to be extremely professional, she sent my order by special delivery so that I would have it before leaving the USA.

I read that lisinopril can cause neuropathy…. Is this true or false?
I take 20 mg daily of lisinopril and question whether I should therefore ask my physician to change my blood pressure medication..
Does lisinopril cause other adverse side effects that can cause serious medical complications?
Thank you for your consideration…

Victor
I happened to see your question regarding stenosis based neuropathy and I also see your question was dated April, 2012. Like you, I have neuropathy but it is not diabetic related. I also have stenosis and spondelosis of my spine and when I used the Benfotiamine cream, which smells like cocoa butter, it does relieve that overly-tired, burning sensation in my feet. My feet were better for a couple of years, then recently I started walking a mile a day on my treadmill to get back into shape and that overly-tired feeling is back. My doctor gave me some Lyrica samples to try, but my body doesn’t tolerate the medication, even at half the dose. Lyrica makes me drowsy and it also makes my heart race. So it’s back to the Benfotiamine cream, it works the best.

I found this very informative. I am just wondering though about answering the questions asked. I do not see the answers to any of the Q’s. I “voted” using the stars but it only picked up 3 stars. Then I realized that and tried to put in five of five but it said I had already voted…so my voting wasn’t accurate! I wanted to vote a 5! I was on Lyrica for years but have recent been taken off because my insurance will no longer pay for it. But my doctor placed me on Gabopantin which soundalike the main ingredient in Lyrica!!! I know that there are Different strengths and grades of supplements. For instance one person commented that he got his from Swanson’s for $4.99! How do we know what grade, quality, etc we are getting? Which is best etc! We need answers to these questions! Thank you!!
People’s Pharmacy response: There’s lots of information here:
https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2011/07/18/vitamin-reverses-nerve-pain/

My, what is diagnosed as idiopathic peripheral neuropathy, started a few years after I had surgeries for Morton’s neuromas on both feet. I must add here that the first surgery was not without problems, (inexperienced surgeon).
Of course the doctor does not believe that the surgeries had any thing to do with the neuropathy but I do ! I have had every test in the book and they are all negative. I am not diabetic nor do I suffer from vitamin deficiencies or toxicity, no known cancers or genetic diseases. I take no medications. I consider myself in good health.
The neurologist prescribed Lyrica and almost threw me out of his office when I told him I was afraid of the side effects of this drug. His answer was “millions of people take this medication and everybody gets better” I walked out of his office with just one thought in my head. This man must be paid a fortune by the drug manufacturer to push Lyrica.
In searching the internet I came upon benfotiamine and ordered online. I got the 80 mg bottle so I’m taking 2 tablets (160 mg) per day. I know this is a very low dose but after 8 weeks I find that the numbness has improved. (I have no pain but the numbness drives me crazy especially at nights). I am in the process of ordering a higher dose and will take 600 mg a day as that seems to be the dose recommended by many.
Not long ago I read an article that said some brands of vitamins carry false labeling, the capsule / tablet contains less vitamin than is written on the label. Can anyone recommend a good brand of benfothiamine ?

Can you tell me how big the pills are. Also how many pills in a bottle and cost?

I have found the comments on taking Benfotiamine for peripheral neuropathy highly informative. My question though is whenever I hear someone give their symptoms of pain I wonder if I am misdiagnosed. The pain in my feet is like fire. When my toes touch it is unbearable making wearing shoes almost unbearable. I have Sjogrene’s and the doctor has added peripheral neuropathy. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Byoungda

Victor, I also have peripheral neuropathy induced by severe spinal stenosis and have been taking Benfotiamine 150mg four caps twice daily for about a month. I started off with just a couple of caps per day to make sure I was tolerating them without adverse effects. The directions on the bottle recommend one to four caps twice a day. I’m halfway through my second bottle and think I’m starting to get some positive results. My left great toe was so painful that even the sheet touching it at night was excruciating.
I’m too skeptical to think this will really work because the neuropathy has been developing slowly over the last ten or fifteen years, but I’m hopeful. You posted your question in April and I wonder if you have tried it since. If so, how has it worked for you?

Is there a possibility that this may also be beneficial in treating Morton’s Neuroma?

I suffered from extreme neuropathy, such that I was starting to get foot drop and could not sleep well at night because of the pain. I heard the program on benfotiamine. I found 150mg three times a day works like a wonder. Thanks.

Swanson Vitamins (swansonvitamins.com) has it in gelatin capsules which you can take apart and put in a teaspoon of applesauce or pudding. 60 caps of 150 mg cost me $4.99, shipping is $5.

I am suffering from a stenosis induced type of neuropathy. I Am interested as to whether this Benfotiamine might be of any help in relieving the symptoms?

I’ve been on 300mg of Benfotiamine for about 4 months and my body weight is 112 lbs. The main thing I notice is that my peripheral neuropathy is not worsening. My research suggests that my age (80) is against me and that young people benefit the most. Since I’ve had Type 11 diabetes for almost 30 years and the neuropathy didn’t show up until last year, I may have to be satisfied with my status quo. I’ll keep taking Benfotiame, and my podiatrist will keep checking for increasing numbness regularly. I’ll be grateful if it doesn’t progress.

What is the recommended dosage?

Got the last bottle at the Health Food Supplement store as they had a “run on it” after your article was published. Will be interested to hear more results & comments. There are different compounds.

What is the recommended dose of benfotiamine?

I would like to know the size of the pill bentofotiamine. I have trouble swallowing large pills. Anything larger than an aspirin gives me trouble.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^