Neuropathy is a condition that affects approximately 8 percent of people over the age of 55 and 2.4 percent of people of all ages. This often-painful condition is defined by damage to the peripheral nerves and is most frequently associated with Type II Diabetes.
However, neuropathy is also inherited in relatively rare cases. For instance, about one in every 2,500 people are born with a condition known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which is a neurological disorder characterized by weakness of the small muscles in the feet and lower legs.
Other causes of neuropathy include kidney disease, liver disorders, exposure to toxic levels of lead, arsenic, mercury, and thallium, and certain drugs used to combat cancer, viruses, and bacterial infections.
Conditions affecting the metabolism, such as hyperthyroidism, may also result in the development of neuropathy. No matter what the cause, those suffering from neuropathy experience pain primarily in the fingers, toes, legs, and arms, and the feeling is often compared to being on pins and needles.
Why Don't Conventional Neuropathy Treatments Work?
Conventional treatments for neuropathy vary anti-depressants and anti-seizure medications to over the counter drugs, and topical remedies.
The problem is, these conventional treatments come with a lot of negatives, including:
1. High Costs
Prescription costs are frequently prohibitive as well. The average price of amittriptyline, for instance is around $10 for 12 tablets, and the average patient with a prescription for carbamazepine pays about $159 for 120 capsules. The average retail price of phenytoin is about $33 for 30 capsules.
2. Side Effects
Opioids are also commonly prescribed for the relief of symptoms caused by neuropathy, but many people find that the side effects along with the price tag combine to make them a less than desirable option. One of the most widely prescribed opioid for neuropathy is tramodal, which typically costs around $10 for just six tablets.
Prescription drugs such as phenytoin, gabapentin, and carbamazepine come with some very bad side effects including:
- Skin rashes
- Dry mouth.
Tricylic antidepressants imapramine and amitriptyline are often prescribed, but many find their side effects of drowsiness, dizzyness, and urinary retention to be extremely unpleasant. Also, drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can damage liver and kidneys, while aspirin may cause bleeding in the stomach in certain individuals.
Over-the-counter (OTC) relief for neuropathy include topical treatments such as ointments and creams that include the active ingredient capsaicin, which is derived from chili peppers, while others contain botanical oils. The major benefit of topical treatments is that they can be applied directly to the points of pain at the time the pain is occurring. However, some topical treatments may cause contact dermatitis or worsen certain skin conditions.
3. Risk of Addiction
Tramodal and other opioids also come with a high risk of developing an addiction. Some patients find relief by taking over-the-counter painkillers, but these have limited effectiveness, do nothing to address the root cause, and may have undesirable side effects.
4. They Only Mask The Symptoms
Traditional medication also fails to address neuropathy's underlying causes and instead only offer a masking effect that often diminishes over time as patients build up a tolerance to the medications they are given. Because these medications are prescribed to treat the symptoms of neuropathy, dosages often have to be increased as the root cause becomes progressively worse.
OTC painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofin, and acetaminophen are also sometimes used by those seeking relief from neuropathic pain. However, these preparations are generally not strong enough to provide relief for anything but mild, occasional pain, and they are not meant to be used on a regular basis.
So What Other Alternatives Are Available?
Fortunately, many people who suffer from neuropathy have found nontraditional forms of relief.
Skyrocketing prescription medication prices combined with increasing consumer distrust of pharmaceutical companies are making natural neuropathy supplements more attractive than ever before.
However, not all of these solutions are created equal! Consumers should use caution when deciding which supplements to use.
What To Look For In A Neuropathy Supplement
We've performed substantial research designed to identify which supplements do the best job of addressing the various aspects of neuropathy treatment. Our findings revealed both generic and premium options, and we've painstakingly sorted them all out to reveal which ones are effective and which ones are best left on the shelf. Here's what to look for in a supplement:
1. Ingredients Backed by Reputable Clinical Studies
Not all herbs and vitamins for neuropathy are created equal. There are only a few vitamins and herbs, in specific forms, that have been rigorously tested in scientific studies. You should choose a supplement which these ingredients, instead of just a list of random herbs or vitamins.
2. Top Quality Ingredients
Sometimes nutraceutical companies include fillers or other chemicals in their supplements. It's important to only use supplement manufacturers who test the purity and quality of their ingredients to make sure they don't have any harmful additives.
3. High Bioavailability
Bioavailability is a measure of how easy it is for your body to absorb the ingredients. Some types of ingredients have higher bioavailability than others. For example, Thiamine is a common form of Vitamin B1, but Benfotiamine has a much higher bioavailability, which means a higher amount is absorbed into your nerves.
4. Correct Dosages
Having the proper dosage in a supplement is crucial. Too little of an ingredient can have no effects, while taking too much of certain ingredients can have harmful side effects and make neuropathy symptoms worse.
What Are The Best Vitamins For Nerve Pain?
We found that the following ingredients are best at promoting optimal nerve health:
R-Alpha Lipoic Acid
This "super" antioxidant is found in every cell in the body. It works by helping convert glucose into energy. Natural sources include green vegetables and potatoes. Evidence suggests that R-ALA may reduce the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy as well as enhance the body's natural ability to process its own insulin.
Mild side effects associated with alpha lipoic acid include light skin rashes and acid reflux. Because it may enhance the effects of medications designed to lower blood sugar, diabetes patients who are taking prescribed insulin should wait for a green light from their health care professional before beginning a supplement regime of alpha lipoic acid.
B-vitamins are essential for healthy nerve functioning because they aid in the natural production of myelin, which is the protective coating that covers the peripheral nerves.
All B-vitamins promote healthy energy levels, aid in neurotransmitter production and the metabolism of amino acids, and promote the regeneration of damaged nerve endings.
Although B-vitamins are found in a huge variety of foods, such as fish, leafy green vegetables, melons, tree fruits, cheese, and eggs, these water soluble vitamins are delicate are often lost through the food preparation process, particularly when cooked at high temperatures or mixed with alcohol.
It is also possible that improper dosages of B-vitamins can contribute to the development of neuropathy. Studies have also shown that a lack of vitamin B-12 may be an underlying cause of neuropathic pain. The best type of B-12 is a highly bioavailable form called Methylcobalamin. This has a higher absorbtion rate than it's counterpart, Cyanocobalamine.
Benfotiamine is a synthetic, fat-soluble version of vitamin B-1 (known as Thiamine) and has long been prescribed by physicians in Europe as a treatment for diabetes.
Clinical studies have shown that benfotiamine is effective in helping prevent the progression of Type II diabetes as well as provides relief from the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
Possible side effects of benfotiamine include slight weight gain, nausea, hair loss, and dizziness.
What Are The Best Natural Herbs For Neuropathy?
Our investigation also found that certain natural herbs are also instrumental in soothing peripheral neuropathy as well as addressing the root cause of the pain:
Commonly used to decrease pain caused by migraine headaches, but it's also been found to be effective against neuropathy.
Feverfew is also said to lower blood pressure and to decrease general inflammation in body tissues.
Feverfew may cause mild digestive discomfort in some individuals as well as heartburn, joint stiffness, and minor weight gain.
Oat Straw Extract
A derivative of green oats and a staple of folk medicine since the Middle Ages, oat straw extract has been found to support nerve, brain, and cardiovascular health.
It has also been found to lower blood sugar levels as well as decrease cholesterol and blood pressure. Some people may experience mild gas or bloating as a result of using oat straw extract.
Passionflower extract was first used by Native Americans to counteract anxiety and associated conditions such as insomnia as well as for general pain relief.
It contains several flavonoids such as orientin, vitexin, and chrysin that act as natural analgesics. Some people have reported experiencing dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and an irregular heartbeat after taking passionflower extract.
Skullcap has been used for centuries as a pain reliever and an antidote to anxiety and nervousness. Skullcap also has been found to act as an anti-inflammatory agent on a cellular level and to calm the cental nervous system, therefore reducing the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
Side effects may include drowsiness and dizziness, and it's use should be avoided by those who regularly use alcohol because it may have an adverse effect on the liver.
When purchasing skullcap, consumers should double check to ensure they are getting scuttelaria lateriflora. Other species have been substituted for this, but they don't have the same biological compounds and don't provide the same benefits. Also, because skullcap can be toxic when taken in large doses, it's important to get a proper dosage.
Best Supplements For Nerve Damage
Regeneration & Pain Relief
We also investigated multiple companies to identify which ones offer superior products and services. Criteria we looked for in our quest to find the best supplements for nerve pain relief were excellent customer service and support levels, top-quality ingredients, a strong money-back guarantee policy, and positive online testimonials. Here's what we found out:
1. Nerve Renew
Nerve Renew is a supplement designed to allow individuals who are suffering from neuropathic pain to lead normal lives.
Not only does the product act to decrease or eliminate feelings of numbness, burning pain, and the all-too-common pins-and-needles effect of diabetic nerve pain, it works to support optimal nerve health as well as promote healthy blood sugar levels.
Manufactured using a unique combination of the ingredients listed above, The product works by allowing available nutrients to reach bodily tissues at the cellular level.
Nerve Review has its company headquarters in Boise, Idaho, maintains an A rating with the Better Business Bureau, and offers consumers a 100-percent money back guarantee.
Nervestra claims to be among the most powerful nerve health support products on the today's supplement market.
This product is available in liquid form and is generally added to beverages via a dropper.
Its blend of ingredients is designed to reduce nerve pain and numbness and increase energy levels.
Like Nerve Renew, Nervestra offers a money back guarantee. According to online reviews, customer support may be a bit lacking.
3. Nerve Support Formula
Nerve Support Formula is primarily comprised of benfotiamine and methylcobalamin, two B-vitamins that are essential for healthy nerves.
This supplement also contains smaller amounts of vitamin D and folic acid. However, it doesn't have any of the other ingredients listed above that have been found to be effective in the treatment of neuropathy.
The company offers a 90-day money back guarantee.
4. Nerve Pain Away
Nerve Pain Away is a homeopathic preparation featuring the active ingredient hypericum perforatum, more commonly known as St. John's Wort. This supplement promises quick relief from numbness, tingling, and pain caused by neuropathy.
Clinical studies have shown that taking St. John's Wort with certain medications may reduce or even eliminate the therapeutic effect of these medications, particularly those designed to promote healthy liver and immune system functionality.
Anyone considering taking St. John's Wort to help relieve nerve pain should speak with their health care professional first. Customer testimonials are mixed, though the company does offer a money back guarantee.
Neuropaquell claims to provide clinical-strength pain relief suitable for use by those with advanced neuropathy.
Ingredients include high amounts of B vitamins mehtylcobalamin and benfotiamine, alpha lipoic acid, oatstraw extract, feverfew, skullcap, passionflower, and vitamin D.
Online reviews for this product tend to be positive, and customer support seems adequate. Neuropaquell also offers a money back guarantee that is good for an entire year after purchase.
6. Nerve Shield
Nerve Shield is a gluten-free supplement made up of a combination of herbs, vitamins, and amino acids thought to promote optimal nerve health.
Although Nerve Shield contains tumeric as well as the Chinese herbs cang zhu and huang hai, it does not contain any of the herbs listed above.
It does contain skullcap; however, it has the species scutellaria baicalensis rather than the highly preferred scutellaria lateriflora.
Nerve Shield offers a 60-day money back guarantee for consumers who purchase the product directly from them. Otherwise, return policies are set at the discretion of the individual retailers who carry the product.
7. Neuracel - NOT RECOMMENDED!
Neuracel advertises that it's a natural remedy for whole-body nerve pain that works via a combination of five ingredients -- but the only ingredient from the above list is passionflower. Other ingredients include California poppy, lobelia, corydalys yanhusuo, and prickly ash bark, none of which have been proven effective a pain relievers in clinical trials.
Neuracel also casts a wide net by claiming to be the ideal choice for a variety of conditions and symptoms and is not specifically targeted to those who suffer from neuropathy.
Although the company does offer a 30-day money back guarantee, consumer reviews reveal that actually contacting the company to request a refund is very challenging because the company has no listed telephone number.
Instead, consumers are asked to fill out an online support ticket which may or may not be answered. Based on our findings, we cannot recommend this supplement.
Final Conclusion: What's the #1 Supplement?
Our extensive research has found that the best supplement for all-around use by those suffering from neuropathic pain is Nerve Renew.
Customer testimonials are overwhelmingly positive, and the company offers a no-questions-asked money back guarantee to any customer who is not satisfied as well as excellent overall customer support.
The product contains proper dosage amounts of all of the above ingredients and doesn't include untried elements lacking in clinical backing.
Overall, we felt that Nerve Renew provided the best value for those seeking an alternative to prescription painkillers and their OTC counterparts.