Diabetic neuropathy: Natural treatments may be better than Lyrica

If you have diabetic neuropathy, you know how painful this condition is. Burning, numbness and tingling in your legs or feet can make it painful to walk and nearly impossible to sleep. This condition is a major cause of foot and leg amputations in diabetics. Previously doctors have just relied on drugs like Lyrica and amitriptyline  to treat the symptoms, but these medications have significant side-effects and risks. Fortunately, there are some natural approaches that are amazingly effective.

The most successful treatment I’ve found is alpha-lipoic acid or ALA. This is a potent anti-oxidant that has been found in a number of studies to improve diabetic neuropathy. Unfortunately, it’s not absorbed well so the best results are obtained with IV infusions. These are safe and can be performed in under an hour in a doctor’s office. Studies indicate that you may need 15 treatments, but I’ve had a few patients that had dramatic results in just two or three treatments. We do offer a high quality oral supplement of ALA to take at home as well.

Additionally, high dose B-vitamins can help. These are sold as prescriptions (Metanx and Folast) but are very expensive. I’ve found a company called Xymogen that sells an outstanding product called Methyl Protect for a fraction of the cost of the prescription products.

Keep in mind that vitamin B12 is often poorly absorbed. This is especially the case with the elderly, patients on acid blockers, and ironically, those taking metformin—the most common medication prescribed for Type 2 diabetes. To get around this you might consider a monthly B12 shot or take a sub-lingual (under the tongue) tablet.

Of course, to have lasting results you also need to have your blood sugars under good control. Work with your doctor, and if necessary, a nutritionist or health coach to help get your sugar down to a safe level.

Even if you’re not having pain, if you have diabetes, ask your doctor to check your feet for sensory loss. If this is the case, pay special attention to foot care and start taking the above steps to improve nerve function.

For more information watch Dr. Angier’s video on peripheral neuropathy and diabetic foot pain.

Dr. Angier is an osteopathic physician with an undergraduate degree in nutrition. He practices integrative medicine at GET WELL in Saint Augustine, Florida.  

If you would like to meet with Dr. Angier to discuss your options call 217-7030 (area code: 904) or you may schedule an appointment online at http://getwellfl.com/make-an-appointment/