The Big Question: Can Neuropathy Be Reversed? 

5 Oct

Neuropathy is a condition in which nerve cells have been damaged. These cells are vital to enable people to move and feel, and there are different types of this condition. The main recognized types are:

  1. Peripheral, which means that it affects the toes, legs, feet, fingers, arms, and hands
  2. Proximal, whereby the pain is in the hips, thighs, and buttocks or other parts of the upper legs
  3. Autonomic, which means that it affects the digestive, urinary, sweating, and sexual functions
  4. Focal, which means that all muscles suddenly become painful and weak.

In many cases, neuropathy is caused by diabetes. In fact, between 60% and 70% of diabetics will develop it at some point. It is believed that, by 2050, some 48 million people in this country will receive a diabetes diagnosis. This means that between 28 and 33 million people will also develop nerve deterioration.

Treatment for Neuropathy

An illustration of a nerve cell with neuropathyThe American Academy of Neurology recommends medication to be prescribed to those who suffer from painful diabetic neuropathy. Their recommendations include amitriptylene, venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta), gabapentin (Neurontin), or pregabalin (Lyrica). However, opioid painkillers, capsaicin (Qutenza) or other topical medications, and nerve stimulation such as TENS or acupuncture, are also recommended.

Meanwhile, the big question for people who have neuropathy, is whether or not the condition can be reversed. The simple answer to that is “it depends”.

Is It Possible to Reverse Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is a symptom of an underlying condition. Various illnesses, trauma, and medications, can all lead to this kind of condition. What happens is that part of the nerve cell is damaged. So long as this damage does not result in the death of the nerve cell, it can regenerate itself if it is enabled to do so. As such, theoretically, it is possible to reverse this condition.

To achieve this, people must treat the condition and their own health properly first. As such, they should consider:

1. Off label drug use

This means that a drug is used for neuropathy but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it for something else. Good examples of this include antidepressants and anticonvulsant medications. Both of these have been proven to be quite effective in reducing the pain associated with nerve damage. When people experience less pain, it means that the nerve cells can get to work on regenerating.

2. A healthy diet

People with diabetes, for instance, often develop foot problems, as well as problems with the rest of their body. This is why it is so important that they become advocates for their own health. They must take their medication as recommended and commit to a healthy lifestyle. What this means is that the standard American diet, of which 70% is made up of refined carbohydrates like white rice, white flour, and white sugar, must be changed. Instead, diabetics should eat:

  • Protein, with 40% of the diet being made up of healthy, lean protein such as fish, pork, lamb, beef, or chicken (all organic if possible). Vegetarians can opt for tempeh or processed soy.
  • Fat, which should make up 30% of the diet. However, these should be healthy fats like grapeseed, safflower, sesame, or olive oil. Seeds and nuts are also good, and dairy should be minimized.
  • Carbohydrates, which should make up no more than 30% of a diet and should come from sprouted and whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, not from baked goods, alcohol, sweetened beverages, fruit juices, starchy fruits and vegetables, or other processed carbs.
  • Organic food, which means the body is not exposed to as many toxins and chemicals, thereby improving the immune system.

People who suffer from neuropathy but are not diabetic, can also benefit from this diet.

3. Supplements

As the name suggests, supplements like Nerve Renew are designed to support and not replace a healthy diet. There are numerous types of supplements that you may want to consider. At the same time, you must remember that not all supplements are safe (they are not FDA regulated) and that even if they are natural, they can still have contraindications with some medications. Hence, make sure that you speak to your physician about the supplements that you are considering.

The most commonly suggested supplements that can help improve the symptoms of neuropathy and thereby allow the nerve cells to regenerate, include:

  • Alpha lipoic acid, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects nerve cells, preventing more damage from occurring and supporting the cells in their regeneration process. It is important to get the dosage right, however, so make sure to consult a nutritionist. 300mg with each meal is a common starting point.
  • L-arginine, which is an amino acid that helps the blood flow properly, which in turn helps to repair nerve damage. It is usually recommended to take three daily doses of 250mg each. However, if you have suffered from herpes in the past, you should not take this supplement as it may lead to new outbreaks.
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6, which are healthy fats that help to improve the symptoms of neuropathy. It is important to properly balance omega 3 and omega 6. Most people in the Western world have an omega 3 deficiency. However, it is important to have this tested so that you can take the right supplements.
  • B vitamins, which have also been shown to help improve the symptoms. They should be taken at synergistic levels, which means the different B vitamins work with each other to provide a better result. Folate should be included. Also, it is quite common for people to be prescribed a vitamin B12 supplement or benfotiamine, sometimes given intravenously, as many people with neuropathy are deficient in this. You must make sure not to take too much vitamin B6, as this can make the symptoms worsen after a while. Additionally, you should avoid alcohol, as this reduces the levels of vitamin B12, folate, and thiamine.

Whether or not neuropathy can be fully reversed is debatable. However, you can certainly reverse some of the cell damage that has already occurred by making sure that no further damage happens. Allowing your cells to regenerate is the best way to reverse any damage that has been done.