Ask the Doctor – Peripheral NeuropathyDr. Zoltan P. Rona, MD, M.Sc. September 23, 2015
Dear Dr. Rona,
I have been diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy – would you be good enough to tell me if there is a natural cure for it. Thank you. – Karl Kostoff, Scarborough, ON
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that results from damage to peripheral nerves, usually in the hands and feet. Numbness, tingling, burning and pain in the affected areas are the usual symptoms. This kind of neuropathy can be caused by physical trauma (e.g. car accident, frostbite), carpal tunnel syndrome, chemical trauma (acid burns, cancer chemotherapy) and diabetes (damage by chronically high blood sugar levels). Other causes are long periods of pressure on the nerves, sitting for extended periods of time, atherosclerosis, autoimmune disorders, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, toxic heavy metals (mercury lead, arsenic) and some drugs.
The following diseases can all be associated with peripheral neuropathy and should be ruled out by your doctor: AIDS, cancer, hepatitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, HIV, Lyme disease, polyarteritis nodosa, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, lupus, and amyloidosis.
After ruling out and treating the underlying causes of the symptoms, conventional medicine treats the condition with antidepressants (amitriptyline, imipramine) and anti-seizure drugs (phenytoin, carbamazepine, gabapentin). Unfortunately, some of these drugs themselves cause neuropathy as a side effect. If diabetes is the cause, better control of blood sugar is the appropriate treatment.
Before trying any treatment for neuropathy, see your doctor for lab testing to rule out treatable conditions. Some doctors will refer you to a neurologist who might want to do some special tests on your nervous system to rule out tumours and other rare causes.
If no explanation for your neuropathy has been found and you have exhausted conventional sources without success, I suggest you look into some other potential causes of your symptoms and consider Complementary and Alternative Medical (CAM) treatments.
Other Potential Causes and Treatments
Additional causes and treatments of diabetic neuropathy can include:
1) Side effects of certain drugs, especially antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline) and cholesterol-lowering drugs (e.g. statins) can cause nerve damage. If any of these are involved and the drugs are not absolutely necessary, find alternatives with the help of your doctor.
2) Toxin exposure (e.g. benzene, fluoride, chlorine, lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, ammonia, arsenic, etc.). If you suspect that you are contaminated with these or other toxins, start to look for sources of exposure in the home and office, and begin eliminating them (ie. tap water contains both fluoride and chlorine), and sources of heavy metals can be found in many household products (see EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” posted at: http://tinyurl.com/nwg6fnu). While eliminating toxic contaminants from your environment, it’s also smart to begin detoxification protocols – sauna treatment or chelation therapy may be able to help you (see Resource List at end).
3) Chronic Inflammation in the lower back (sciatica, piriformis muscle entrapment) can reduce blood flow to the nerves in the spinal column. Chiropractic, osteopathic treatment, massage, and acupuncture treatments may be of help in such cases.
4) Nutritional deficiencies, especially vitamin B-12, folate, and omega 3 fatty acids. High doses of a good B complex (100 – 500 mg daily) may be of considerable help. These can be taken orally as well as injected for a more direct and powerful result.
5) Excessive alcohol use can damage nerves anywhere in the body by depleting the system of B vitamins.
6) Food toxins like aspartame have been documented to cause nerve damage. Use natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, if you must. Also, food additives, dyes, GMO foods and other adulterated foods can be involved. Follow an organic diet as much as possible.
7) Use Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), a very effective antioxidant proven to help peripheral neuropathy, especially if associated with diabetes. The usual effective dose is between 600 and 1200 mg daily taken with food. ALA is also effective in the natural treatment of high blood sugar. This supplement should be taken for at least six weeks but may be taken continuously for years without significant side effects.
8) Use capsaicin (the active ingredient in cayenne pepper). It can be applied topically mixed in a cream to reduce pain and discomfort from peripheral neuropathy several times a day. It can also be swallowed in capsule form (500 mg, 3 times daily with food) for relief.
9) Use Magnesium Bisglycinate – 400 mg. twice daily, and use Magnesium Chloride gel topically several times daily. Both are important to nourish damaged nerves and relieve symptoms. Magnesium supplementation is especially important for diabetics to reduce complications of that disease.
10) Glutathione (Setria version) – 1000 mg daily can work wonders for just about any neurological condition. (Furthermore, the results of glutathione administered intravenously have been quite impressive.)
One or more of these natural remedies may work for you. In some cases, especially in seniors, intravenous vitamins and minerals may work better than the oral equivalents. I recommend that you work with a natural health practitioner to get a personalized treatment plan.
• The Jaconello Health Centre offers a “Heavy Metals Detoxification” program using oral and intravenous chelation therapies. For more information call (416) 463-2911 in Toronto, or visit: http://www.jaconello.com/detoxification-of-heavy-metals.html
• TIMELESS HEALTH CLINIC offers a variety of vitamin drips to aid in detoxification and pain management. For information call: (416) 966-4106 in Toronto, visit: www.timelesshealthclinic.com
• The Markham Natural Health Centre offers heavy metal detoxification programs using chelation, sauna therapy, and nutrition. For more information call (905) 477-0200, visit: http://markhamnaturalhealthcentre.com
• QUANTUM HEALTH DENTAL & WELLNESS CENTRE offers ‘Comprehensive Heavy Metal Detoxification’ in Thornhill, using sauna therapy and other protocols of environmental medicine. For information call: (905) 660-5129, visit: www.detoxtoronto.ca
• TO PURCHASE YOUR OWN SAUNA for an ongoing detoxification regimen, contact SaunaRay – manufacturer of high quality, locally-made far infrared saunas. Call 1-877-992-1100, or visit: http://www.saunaray.com (or check out their saunas that will be on display at Whole Life Expo 2015)
Catch Dr. Zoltan Rona at Whole Life Expo 2015, where he will give a lecture on Saturday, November 28 at 5:30 pm. In addition, he will have a booth at the show all weekend. To find out his lecture topic, watch wholelifeexpo.ca for updates, or see the Expo Showguide in Vitality’s November2015 issue.
There will also be regular announcements sent out to those who have signed up for a free subscription to Vitality’s digital magazine. To get your subscription, just send your name and city to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practises Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. He has also published several Canadian best-selling books, including Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin. Visit his website at: http://www.highlevelwellness.ca For appointments, call (905) 764-8700; Office: 390 Steeles Ave. W. Unit 19, Thornhill, ON