Peripheral Neuropathy – Causes, Effects & Wholistic Options – Your Health Detective

      Let’s begin with the actual definition of this condition from the National Library of Medicine:

    Peripheral nerves carry information to and from the brain. They also carry signals to and from the     spinal cord to the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy means these nerves don’t workproperly.     Peripheral neuropathy may be damage to a single nerve. It may be damage to a nerve group.

Statisically Speaking…

  • Peripheral Neuropathy (PN) affects over 20 million Americans and 60% of diabetics.
  • PN is mostly associated with conditions that include:

        Diabetes, HIV, shingles, toxic overload, autoimmune disorders, neurological conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome and malnutrition. Additionally, statin drugs and chemotherapy can also cause PN…CLICK HERE to continue reading…

Known Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy Include, but are not limited to: 

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Shingles (post herpetic neuralgia)
  • Vitamin deficiency, particularly B12 and folate
  • Alcohol
  • Autoimmune diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or Guillain-Barre syndrome 
  • AIDS, whether from the disease or its treatment,syphilis, and kidney failure
  • Inherited disorders, such as amyloid polyneuropathy or Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease 
  • Exposure to toxins, such as heavy metals, gold compounds, lead, arsenic, mercury,  and organophosphate pesticides
  • Cancer therapy drugs such as vincristine (Oncovin and Vincasar) and other medications, such as antibiotics including metronidazole (Flagyl) and isoniazid
  • Rarely, diseases such as neurofibromatosis can lead to peripheral neuropathy. Other rare congenital neuropathies include Fabry disease, Tangier disease, hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy, and hereditary amyloidosis.
  • Statin medications have been linked to peripheral neuropathy, although neuropathy caused by statins only rarely causes symptoms.

While diabetes and post-therapeudic neuralgia are the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy, often times no specific medical cause is found. In these situations, it is referred to as idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.

       Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy Include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Unusual sensations
  • Weakness
  • Burning pain in affected areas
  • Dull to Excruciating pain
  • Limitation of movement and/or movement
  • Loss of balance

Because the autonomic nerves control bodily functions that we do not consciously think of, such as heart rate, digestion, and emptying of the bowel and bladder, autonomic neuropathy manifests with symptoms affecting the loss of control of these functions. Symptoms may include problems with blood pressure, voiding, passage of stools (diarrhea or constipation), heart rate, and/or sweating. 

Other Considerations…

Specific nerves can be involved in neuropathy. When a specific nerve is involved, the symptoms are limited to the distribution of that nerve.

  • The most commonly involved peripheral nerve is the median nerve at the wrist as in carpal tunnel syndrome.  Essentially any peripheral nerve can become entrapped and cause the signs and symptoms of neuropathy.
  • The ulnar nerve is commonly entrapped at the elbow.
  • The peroneal nerve is exposed at the outer part of the knee. The pudendal nerve can cause pain in the perineum and is relieved by sitting on a toilet seat or an inflatable donut.
  • Entrapment of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve at the waist, called meralgia paresthetica, causes numbness at the outer part of the thigh.

Can peripheral neuropathy be prevented?

Certain forms of peripheral neuropathy can be prevented. For example, avoiding alcohol toxicity, getting shingles vaccinations for those at high risk, avoiding heavy metal toxicity, and aggressively treating diabetes are all measures that can help prevent the development of peripheral neuropathy resulting from these causes.

Wholistic Options

  • Both Vitamin B6 and Alpha-lipoic acid have been used for relief in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (both available at most health stores). 

          Alpha-lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant and has been used in Europe for treatment of peripheral nerve degeneration caused specifically by diabetes. It is a powerful sulfur-containing fatty acid contined in each cell of the body – generating energy. The suggested dose is 1,200 to 1,800 mgs daily in divided doses (Available at most health stores).

        Vitamin B6 deficiency has been shown to aggravate or cause neuropathic pain. This vitamin is more effective when taken within a B-Complex formula. I suggest purchasing B-100 and take once a day with a meal. This type of complex simply means that it includes 100 mg of EACH of the B Vitamins along with 400 mcg of folic acid (available at most health stores).

  • The herb Skullcap soothes the entire nervous system and has been used for centuries. The suggested dose is fifteen drops of the tincture in a glass of water taken 3-6 times daily as need for pain (available at most health stores).
  • Homeopathic Silver Hydrosol has shown to help nerves regenerate. Hungarian studies found specific silver receptors on human nerve tissue. This is NOT collodial silver but a highly specialized silver available only through health professionals. Recommended dose for PN is 1 tsp. three times daily on an empty stomach – swish in mouth for a minute or so and then swallow so that the solution can absorb sublingually. Click here to order.
  • St. John’s Wort, an herb, has shown effectiveness for all varieties of nerve injuries, specifically nerves in the fingers and toes (available at most health stores).
  • A Medical Food for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) formulated to provide specialized nutritional support for patients with PAD and depleted circulation. It provides high quality L-arginine, magnesium, folate, and beet powder to increase nitric oxide production for support of circulation and heart muscle function. It is a proprietary blend powder available only through the Health Matters Store, Click here to order.

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