If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor has probably prepared you for the possibility of diabetic neuropathy. You may even already be experiencing nerve pain. Diabetic neuropathy is a common side effect of diabetes, beginning with tingling or shooting pain the feet, then progressing over time to a loss of feeling that may extend up into the legs.
While there are drugs available for the problem, they generally only reduce the pain by half, and many people with diabetes prefer to limit their drug dependency. Consequently, more than half of people with diabetes report they have tried alternative treatments for nerve pain.
The five most popular nutritional supplements used to reduce diabetic nerve pain are:
1. Vitamin B Complex
People with diabetic nerve damage are often deficient in B-complex vitamins. Nutritionists recommend 1,500 micrograms of B12 daily, along with 150 milligrams of B6, which helps prevent diabetes-related damage to the nerves, blood vessels, kidneys and eyes. Benfotiamine, which is a fat-soluble, highly absorbable form of thiamine (vitamin B1), is known to reduce diabetic pain and improve nerve conduction. One hundred fifty to 450 milligrams daily is the recommended dose.
2. Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant, and it has been proven in clinical studies to improve the pain, burning and numbness of diabetic nerve pain. Antioxidants are particularly valuable in diabetes, because the disease creates a storm of free-radical damage, and that underlies much of the vascular and nerve damage. The recommended dose is 600 to 1,200 milligrams daily.
3. Fish Oil
For a number of years, patients suffering from type 2 diabetes were told to avoid fish oil because of the fear it could raise blood sugar. However, recent analyses of earlier studies have found that fish oil, taken in doses ranging from 3,000 to 18,000 milligrams daily, did not adversely affect blood glucose control. Fish oil is also known to improve triglyceride levels. In addition, fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory. The recommended dose is two grams of high-quality fish oil daily.
4. Gamma Linolenic Acid
Research demonstrates that Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) can prevent the deterioration of diabetic neuropathy. In some cases, nerve damage has been reduced. The best sources of GLA are borage oil and evening primrose oil. The recommended beginning dose of evening primrose oil is 500 to 1,500 milligram daily.
Acetyl-l-carnitine is known to improve nerve function. It also supports regeneration in never fibers, and can relieve diabetic nerve pain. The recommended dose is 500 to 1,000 milligrams daily.
Wherever you are now, in terms of your diabetic nerve pain status, it is not too early, or too late, to begin experimenting with natural remedies. You may be able to prevent, or even improve, diabetic neuropathy.