One of the most challenging side effects of diabetes is the associated nerve pain, called diabetic neuropathy. The problem begins with shooting or tingling pain in the feet, and often progresses over the years to loss of feeling in the feet and legs. Prescription drugs have limited effectiveness, only reducing the pain by half, on average, and diabetic patients are often reluctant to rely on even more drugs. It is not surprising, therefore, that more than half of the people who experience the pain of diabetic neuropathy report they have tried alternative treatments.
Here are the top 7 natural ways to treat diabetic neuropathy:
Exercise is known to improve blood flow to the nerves of the leg and foot, so a regular exercise program can help nourish damaged nerves. One study showed that a regular walking program prevented neuropathy in diabetic patients, and slowed the progression of neuropathy among patients who had already developed the condition.
Exercise also reduces blood sugars overall, and may increase pain tolerance.
2. Warm Water
Many patients find bathing in warm water can reduce mild nerve pain. Warm baths increase blood flow to legs and feet and they are also relaxing and reduce stress, making pain easier to manage.
Warm baths are safe, as long as you are careful about the temperature. Check the water with your arm, not your feet, before you step in.
3. Vitamin B Complex
B vitamins, particularly B-1, B-12, B-6 and folic acid, are vital to nerve health. Most of us get enough B vitamins from a healthy eating program, but some studies indicate a supplement can improve nerve pain. Nutritionists recommend 25 milligrams of thiamine (B-1), 500 micrograms of B-12, 25 milligrams of B-6, and at least 1 milligram of folic acid. Don’t exceed the recommended dose of B-6, however, and long term use can lead to toxicity.
Capsaicin cream, which is made from hot peppers, can be very effective on nerve pain. In one study, more than 66% of participants using capsaicin experienced relief from the pain of damaged nerves.
For the best results, you have to use capsaicin cream regularly. Apply it three to four times daily, and be aware the pain may feel worse before it improves.
5. Evening Primrose Oil
The oil of the evening primrose plan is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, a vital structural component in cell walls. Some nutritionists believe supplementing with evening primrose oil can help regrow damaged nerve cells.
Two clinical trials have demonstrated that oral doses of evening primrose oil did provide some improvement in nerve function. Some people have taken as many as twelve capsules daily to experience the positive effects, however. Evening primrose is not recommended for people who take a daily aspirin or prescription blood thinners, due to an increased risk of bleeding.
6. Botanical Oils
Some studies have indicated the the application of botanical oils such as geranium oil can reduce nerve pain. Other oils have a variety of useful properties. Lavender oil, for example, is a powerful relaxant, which can support pain management.
7. Alpha-lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant that helps rid the body of free radicals, which can support healing of nerve cells. This supplement is widely used in Germany to treat never pain and damage associated with diabetes.
This supplement can be taken orally or intravenously. A dosage of 600 to 1,200 milligrams daily is generally recommended.
In addition to these seven natural approaches, alternative practitioners recommend a variety of other healing modalities for nerve pain. If you are suffering with diabetic nerve pain, explore the possibilities until you find the combination that works for you.