Q. I heard a caller on your radio show talk about a vitamin for peripheral neuropathy and restless leg syndrome. What is it? Can you tell me more?
Benfotiamine for Neuropathy:
A. The compound is benfotiamine, a synthetic form of thiamine (vitamin B1). It has been used in Germany to treat peripheral neuropathy due to diabetes. Our caller, a physician, says the dose is 300 mg twice daily to start with; maintenance is 150 mg twice a day. Benfotiamine is available without a prescription, but not all pharmacies carry it.
When he called, we had forgotten that we’d heard from other listeners several years ago about the same compound:
“I have suffered for about four years from an intermittent, sharp ‘electric’ pain on the sole of my left foot. Recently it became worse and was interfering with my sleep.
“I heard you speaking about peripheral neuropathy and a diabetic caller said her doctor had recommended ‘benfotiamine.’ This had returned feeling to the bottom of her feet for the first time in many years.
“After reading all I could find on the subject, I ordered benfotiamine and began taking it. Within 24 hours my pain had almost completely disappeared and the very isolated recurrences are comparatively mild.”
A placebo-controlled trial for diabetic neuropathy found a significant benefit for pain (Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes, Nov., 2008). We could find no trials of benfotiamine to treat restless leg syndrome, but it could be worth a try.