Neuropathy can be a frustrating diagnosis given that there are not many treatments available for it. Neuropathy can cause weakness, numbness, tingling, burning, or painful sensations, depending on the type of nerves involved. Some common causes of neuropathy include diabetes, toxic trauma from chemotherapy, heavy metal toxicity, autoimmune disorders, vascular disorders, but many cases of neuropathy have no known cause. The common thread of all neuropathies are that the nerve cells (neurons) are not as healthy as they should be. That brings us to an integrative approach to neuropathy.
Nerves can best be treated when they are optimized on a cellular level. Keep in mind that neurons are living cells with nuclei containing DNA and mitochondria powering them, just like all other living cells in our body. DNA needs to be protected from the free radicals that are created during normal metabolic activities. Cells, including neurons, cannot survive without a steady supply of antioxidants to curtail free radical damage and oxidative stress. Glutathione, a master antioxidant, is important to the health of neurons. It can be given intravenously or through a nebulizer, but not orally because it is a tripeptide and our gastric juices will break it down into amino acids. Our glutathione levels can be boosted by eating cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli or brussel sprouts, which contain sulforophanes and the phytonutrient DIM which help our bodies make more glutathione. Antiox-Restore by Akasha Naturals is a supplement which helps boost glutathione levels and contains broccoli seed extract and DIM.
Living cells, including neurons, need to have adequate methylation for optimal cellular repair, production and repair of DNA, neurotransmitter production, and detoxification. An important gene involved in methylation, MTHFR, can be checked in a simple blood test. MTHFR has 2 main variants, and a mutation in either variant needs to be addressed to optimize nerve cell health. At the Akasha Center, we can assess your MTHFR gene and advise on supplements to optimize methylation.
Nerves are also electrical. Information travels from the cell body, down the axon, to the nerve terminal as electrical signals. The inside of a neuron is negative, and the outside is positively charged. “Earthing”, also known as “Grounding”, or standing on dirt, grass, or sand with your bare feet, allows electrons from Earth’s surface to flow into your body. Studies have shown Earthing reduces inflammation, improves wound healing, and can help prevent and treat chronic inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.
Neurons are chemical. Nerves talk to each other by releasing chemicals know as neurotransmitters across synapses to other nerves. Many supplements can be useful in optimizing neurotransmitter production, including B-complex vitamins, alpha lipoic acid which supports the tiny blood vessels that feed neurons (the vasa nervorum), acetyl-L-carnitine which supports cellular energy production, and gamma linolenic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid that supports nerve health.
Now that we have discussed optimizing your nerve health, let’s talk about treatments that reduce the symptoms of neuropathy. Neural Prolotherapy is an injection therapy that uses a low concentration of a dextrose solution that has been shown to reduce cutaneous neuropathic pain. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) has been shown to reduce neuropathic pain that involves the central nervous system, such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or multiple sclerosis. LDN is thought to work by reducing glial cell transmission and by boosting our endogenous opioid production (endorphins).
If you have neuropathy and would like to be evaluated for an integrative approach to treatment, make an appointment with Dr. Boston at the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine.