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Will Benfotiamine Ease Your Foot Pain?

Benfotiamine may help alleviate nerve pain associated with diabetes. A reader wonders if it will help other types of neuropathy as well.

Have you ever dropped a heavy can of food on your toe? The nail turns purplish-black and the foot hurts like crazy. After a few days, though, the pain calms down and only hurts when you wiggle or stub the toe. Pain that is caused by nerve misfiring tends to last a lot longer and is difficult to treat. One reader is hoping that an alternative approach, benfotiamine, might help ease terrible neuropathy.

Will Benfotiamine Help Against Nerve Pain?

Q. Would benfotiamine help my neuropathy? I have severe nerve damage from my toes to my knees. My doctor says he can’t prescribe anything for my pain.

What Is Benfotiamine?

A. Benfotiamine is a synthetic variant of the B vitamin thiamine. It has been used in conjunction with alpha-lipoic acid to alleviate diabetic neuropathy (Varkonyi et al, Minerva Medica, Oct. 2017).  This compound can prevent damage to small blood vessels, which helps explain its usefulness in diabetic neuropathy (Javed et al, Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, Dec. 2015).

As far as we can tell, this compound has been studied primarily for treating diabetic neuropathy. It does appear to reduce inflammation of microglial nerve cells, however (Bozic et al, PLOS One, Feb. 19, 2015).  These cells are active in producing neuropathic pain (Popiolek-Barczyk & Mika, Current Medicinal Chemistry, Aug. 2016).  In addition, one study in rats indicates that benfotiamine can reduce inflammatory pain as well as the pain of diabetic neuropathy (Sanchez-Ramirez et al, European Journal of Pharmacology, Jan. 13, 2006).

Should You Try Benfotiamine?

Benfotiamine is not expensive and it does not have serious side effects. As a result, it might well be worth a try, starting with a dose of 300 mg twice a day. If it proves helpful, you can cut back to a maintenance dose of 150 mg twice daily. Not all studies indicate that it is helpful for neuropathy (Fraser et al, Diabetes Care, May 2012).

We can imagine that nerve pain like yours might make walking or even driving a car more difficult. We hope you can find a way to alleviate your neuropathy.

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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..
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