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10 Natural Ways To Relieve Neuropathy Nerve Pain

What causes neuropathic pain? How can I relieve nerve pain caused by diabetic neuropathy?

Those are two of the most common questions patients ask after receiving a neuropathy diagnosis. When blood sugar levels are elevated for an extended period of time, it can cause nerve damage that leads to sensations of tingling and numbness in the feet and/or hands. For many people, complications of diabetes also come with chronic pain.

Those signs are characteristic of peripheral neuropathy, which is also called polyneuropathy. There are other forms of neuropathy that may lead to other physical and mental discomforts. Use this brief cheat sheet to further your understanding of complications often encountered in the long term after receiving a diabetes diagnosis:

  • Autonomic – Problems with the nervous system leads to complications of the sexual organs, cardiovascular system, sweat glands and digestive system. Bodily systems that should function automatically become dysfunctional. It goes beyond nerve pain and compromises the body's temperature control, bladder function and food digestion.
  • Focal – Nerve tissue complications cause weakness and pain in one focused nerve region. Eye pain, double vision and paralysis on one side of the face are common symptoms. Patients can experience pain in the chest, stomach and other areas.
  • Proximal – Nervous system damage in the lower body leads to extreme pain in the legs, buttocks and hips. Many sufferers experience reduced mobility and struggle to stand up and walk without assistance.

All forms of neuropathy can cause pain that may interfere with your quality of life. For some people, the lightest touch on affected areas of skin can lead to extreme sensitivity or intense pain. When prescription medications fail to provide adequate relief, many sufferers look for natural nerve pain relief.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with polyneuropathy or any other type of diabetes compliction, there are 10 natural remedies that may provide pain relief in the short and long term.

Consider using some of these pain-relieving remedies to lower your dependence on prescription painkillers or other medicines. You may also improve your range of mobility, enhance your safety while moving and enjoy a more satisfying quality of life. It may take some effort to adjust your lifestyle, but natural relief is possible.

1. Manage Your Weight

One of the best ways to slow the progression of diabetes pain and nerve inflammation is to live a well-balanced lifestyle that promotes a healthy bodyweight. The good news is you don't need an overly restrictive diet to get in shape.

Start by learning what foods to eat when you have neuropathy and boosting your daily activity level. Any form of continuous movement can improve circulation while improving muscle tone and keeping your body healthy in general.

A healthy diet for diabetes patients should include a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Low-fat dairy

While many people believe carbohydrates are unhealthy for those trying to regulate glucose levels, you don't have to avoid them entirely to control diabetes. Limiting them to a quarter of your plate and choosing whole grains will ensure you stay well-nourished without negatively impacting your glucose levels.

Controlling your weight with a healthy diet and routine exercise will also help control your blood pressure. Untreated hypertension can lead to the progression of neuropathic tenderness and pain, which makes a healthy lifestyle even more critical for those suffering from diabetes.

If you aren't accustomed to exercise, start with simple activities like casual walks around the block or more aggressive house cleaning. You can increase your activity level gradually as you start to feel more relief from pain and sensitivity.

2. Fill Up on Antioxidants

Research has shown a correlation between oxidative stress and complications of diabetes, including polyneuropathy.[1] Oxidative stress is created when free radicals accumulate in your system due to an insufficient supply of antioxidants and other factors.[2] Your body needs antioxidants to combat those free radicals before they cause physical complications like nerve pain.

Long-term high blood sugar levels lead to damaged nerves, and that damage leads to nerve pain. Since oxidative stress can contribute to diabetes complications like nerve pain and damage, increasing your consumption of antioxidants can pay off. That means eating a lot of fresh produce that's brightly colored, including but not limited to:

  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Black plums
  • Red beans
  • Spinach
  • Apples
  • Strawberries

Researchers are looking into more intense antioxidant therapy, but more studies are needed to prove their effectiveness. You can get any potential benefits right now by including antioxidant-rich foods in your daily meal plan.

3. Consume More with Vitamin B12

What is the best vitamin for nerve damage? There is some scientific proof that vitamin B12 is the answer to that question.[3] While more compelling research is needed to determine if this vitamin has an effective impact on other symptoms of polyneuropathy, there is some convincing evidence that it helps reduce chronic nerve pain.

You can get vitamin B12 from natural foods, including:

  • Sardines
  • Kidneys
  • Clams
  • Beef
  • Tuna
  • Salmon

If you're a vegetarian or don't eat enough of those foods weekly to ensure an adequate supply of vitamin B12, consider taking a supplement like Nerve Renew. They're affordable and readily available online and in most stores with a pharmacy.

4. Apply Topical Capsaicin Cream

Capsaicin cream is one of the most promising medications for nerve pain because it's readily available, affordable and fast acting. One study found that patients experienced significant relief from nerve pain after applying 0.075% strength capsaicin cream directly to their skin four times each day for eight weeks.

Approximately 38% of participants reported a decrease in nerve pain intensity while about 70% showed improvements in pain according to the Physician Global Assessment scale. [4]

While the majority of users don't experience side effects, if you experience any negative interactions from Capsaicin, then you may want to try alternative pain creams like Muscle Care Roll On Relief. This formula contains menthol and magnesium which provide similar pain relief benefits and are easily absorbed through the skin.

For maximum relief, look for high-potency creams sold online and in many local retail stores or pharmacies. Follow package instructions to determine how often you apply the cream and time each application to your most painful times of day. With consistent use and smart timing, you can have a short-term impact on pain signals without relying on painkillers.

Some common side effects of this cream include sneezing, coughing and burning. Start with a small amount of cream to determine your reaction, and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after application. If you find the cream helpful, you can subscribe to automatic deliveries through Amazon and other popular online stores.

5. Consume More Ginger

A scientific analysis published in 2019 divided more than 70 mice into nine groups and administered each group one of the following remedies for polyneuropathic pain:[5]

  • Ginger Extract – It's found in the rhizome of the Zingiber officinale plant. It contains powerful antioxidants and has been proven beneficial when combatting diabetes and other diseases that impact the nervous system.
  • 6-Shogaol – This compound is found naturally in the rhizome and has been studied as a potential intervention for serious diseases like cancer.[6]
  • Gabapentin – This prescription medication is used to treat epilepsy but is also commonly prescribed to patients with polyneuropathy. It's an accepted pharmaceutical solution for nerve pain.

The research found that the extract and 6-Shogaol effectively protected nerves in mice infected with diabetes while reducing the effects of high blood glucose levels. Gabapentin wasn't as effective, which was probably news to many medical doctors. That proves this natural rhizome is one of the more powerful natural remedies for diabetes-induced nervous system pain.

Results were dosage dependent. That means improvements were heightened at higher doses of extract or 6-Shogaol. While you're not likely to consume extremely high doses of this rhizome in daily life, you can start sipping tea or learn to incorporate the fresh product in some of your favorite recipes. It's a versatile natural food that you can use daily with a little effort.

6. Supplement or Cook with Turmeric

Turmeric is an orange spice that comes from the Curcuma longa plant. It's used heavily in Asian cuisine and is known for its coloring as well as strong flavor profile. Modern scientists have conducted many research studies on the spice because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant benefits. There are some studies that support its use in the treatment of arthritis, depression, hay fever and polyneuropathy.

Research has shown that compounds found naturally within turmeric may activate the opioid system in addition to reducing inflammation.[7] That's the system that opioid painkillers stimulate in order to relieve pain, so it makes sense that turmeric would help relieve neuropathy pain.

Curcumin is the most active compound found in turmeric, and it's currently at the center of ongoing research that may help diabetes patients with pain and other symptoms in the future. [8]

Research into this anti-inflammatory spice may include high doses that aren't easy to mimic at home. You can still enjoy some of the benefits by adding the spice to rice, homemade soups and many other savory dishes. You can also buy curcumin supplements, but don't exceed the dose listed on the package without seeking medical advice from your doctor.

7. Supplement with Herbs

Herbal remedies make the list of natural treatments for virtually every disease or illness because they come straight from nature and are packed with compounds that have a powerful impact on the human body. It sounds overly simplistic to recommend herbs for diabetic nerve damage, so what is the best herb for nerve pain?

Research professionals reviewed a series of clinical trials in 2018 in an effort to answer that question. They focused on diabetic patients who used fresh herbs, herbal tablets and topical herbal products to treat pain caused by complications of diabetes.

St. John's wart and nutmeg were represented in the trials, but the results were inconclusive. The research team determined the clinical trials completed at the time were of low quality, and they recommended further clinical trials to explore the use of herbs for nerve pain relief.[9]

That doesn't mean there's no value in herbal treatments for polyneuropathy. Some research does exist that supports St. John's wart as the most effective option.[10] You can find supplements containing this herb easily, and most are affordable. You should seek the advice of a doctor if you want to know more about an herb before adding it to your daily routine.

8. Schedule Routine Acupuncture Treatments

Acupuncture was once considered an alternative intervention without much scientific support, but times have changed. It has gone from being a practice of Chinese medicine to becoming a commonplace recommendation for anyone interested in living a healthy lifestyle. It comes with many benefits that go beyond your diabetes complications.

It's not difficult to find a natural doctor, naturopath or alternative medical center offering these services, and medical research is proving its effectiveness for a variety of serious conditions. Some of that research was focused on polyneuropathy, and the results have been impressive.

One study tested a standardized treatment protocol for neuropathies with various causes and found the protocol successful for 10 participants.[11] Many scientists and doctors believe additional research is needed to determine more precise guidelines for maximum effectiveness, but that doesn't stop you from starting your alternative medicine treatments now. Look for an experienced practitioner with some experience treating nerve pain.

9. Massage with Essential Oils

When patients with polyneuropathy were given essential oil massages three times a week for four weeks, the results were encouraging.[12] There were 21 patients assigned to receive massages with essential oils while 25 patients were assigned to a control group and received only routine care. By the end of the fourth week, the group receiving massage with essential oils recorded greater levels of pain relief.

What essential oils should you use for your home massage sessions? Research in mice points to lavender oil as an effective option.[13] Lavender also has one of the most relaxing, soothing aromas and is heavily used in aromatherapy for anxiety, depression, insomnia and other emotional issues.

Like most alternative or natural remedies, oils won't ensure you never need surgery or suffer from complications of existing conditions. You can count on them to ease some of your discomforts and perhaps make daily life a bit easier to handle.

10. Sign Up for Physical Therapy

Diabetic polyneuropathy leads to gradual muscle loss that can worsen by the year.[14] Incorporating more exercise in your daily life can help you build stronger muscles and lower your risk of losing mobility in the future. While physical therapy isn't as easy as taking some of the over-the-counter supplements featured on this list, it is one option to build and maintain muscle mass.

If you don't have rights to professional physical therapy sessions due to health insurance limitations, consider working with an experienced personal trainer. Tell them your goal is to maintain your strength despite nerve damage, and they can help you get in great shape to look and feel your best.

Can Peripheral Neuropathy be Cured?

Now that you've explored some of the natural pain management techniques that can help ease chronic pain caused by nerve system complications, perhaps you're wondering if it's possible to eliminate or reverse peripheral or systemic pain.

The good news is you can dramatically reduce your discomfort by taking actions to control your diabetes. When glucose levels are properly maintained, many complications of diabetes are eliminated. Many of the remedies listed above will help you reduce the impact of diabetes while enhancing your overall health and wellbeing.

Most natural treatments that are effective for nerve pain relief are designed to improve your comfort or prevent further complications of diabetes. They aren't recommended as cures for diabetes, but that doesn't mean they can't help you recover from the inflammatory response to nervous system complications while reducing the resulting pain. Think of it as changing your lifestyle and supplementing your diet in an effort to feel your best despite your diabetes diagnosis.

Some natural pain management techniques may have a positive impact on your diabetes, blood pressure and foot or hand sensation levels. While they aren't likely to cure diabetes on their own, they can work together as part of a healthy lifestyle to reduce pain and stop it from intensifying.

The right combination of natural treatments may improve your condition to the point your mobility is protected and the impact of polyneuropathy on your overall lifestyle is minimized.

A Final Word on Self Care

When you start embracing natural home remedies to heal your pain nerves and prevent further damage to your nervous system, you will also improve other areas of your health.

For example, you will likely lose weight and have more energy for daily life when you subscribe to a nutrient-rich diet and add exercise into your daily routine. Supplementing with B12 and other vitamins will nourish every cell in your system while encouraging thick, shiny hair and more youthful skin. In addition, you can use pain relief patches for fast relief to help get through the day.

These natural approaches can do more than bring pain relief and prevent further nerve and muscle deterioration. The more you care for yourself in general, the more improvements you will notice medically. When you manage your neuropathy better, you will experience less pain while potentially improving or reversing other signs of polyneuropathy along the way.

Focus on new habits that will improve your overall health and wellness, even if some of your life changes aren't verified by medically reviewed studies at this point. You can stop smoking tobacco, improve your sleep schedule, clean up your diet and start meditating to lower your overall stress levels.

You need to follow these healthier habits for months and years in order to significantly ease pain from your nervous system and find long-term relief from other side effects of diabetes.

If you want to learn more about polyneuropathy and other health and wellness concerns, subscribe to our newsletter. You're also encouraged to check back often for updated reports and articles designed to make living your best life easier. We look forward to helping you develop a healthier lifestyle.


References

  1. Cowell RM, Russell JW. "Nitrosative Injury and Antioxidant Therapy in the Management of Diabetic Neuropathy." Journal of Investigative Medicine 52.1 (2004): 33-44. https://jim.bmj.com/content/52/1/33?trendmd-shared=1&utm_campaign=DE_JP_NL&utm_medium=TrendMD&utm_source=TrendMD_JIM
  2. Betteridge DJ. "What is oxidative stress?" Metabolism 49 (2000): 3-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10693912
  3. Sun Y, Lai MS, Lu CJ. "Effectiveness of vitamin B12 on diabetic neuropathy: systematic review of clinical controlled trials." Acta Neurologica Taiwanica 14.2 (2005): 48-54. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16008162
  4. Author Unlisted. "Treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy with topical capsaicin. A multicenter, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study. The Capsaicin Study Group." Internal Medicine 151.11 (1991): 2225-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1953227
  5. Fifteen Aprila Fajrin, Arief Nurrochmad, Agung Endro Nugroho, Rina Susilowati. "The improvement of pain behavior and sciatic nerves morphology in mice model of painful diabetic neuropathy upon administration of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe.) extract and its pungent compound, 6-shogaol." Arief Nurrochmad 10.2 (2019): 149-156. http://www.jnsbm.org/article.asp?issn=0976-9668;year=2019;volume=10;issue=2;spage=149;epage=156;aulast=Fajrin
  6. H Ling, H Yang, S-H Tan, W-K Chui, E-H Chew. "6-Shogaol, an active constituent of ginger, inhibits breast cancer cell invasion by reducing matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression via blockade of nuclear factor-κB activation." British Journal of Pharmacology 161.8 (2010): 1763–1777. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010581/
  7. Banafshe HR, Hamidi GA, Noureddini M, Mirhashemi SM, Mokhtari R, Shoferpour M. "Effect of curcumin on diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain: possible involvement of opioid system." European Journal of Pharmacology 723 (2014): 202-206. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24315931
  8. Dong-wei Zhang, Min Fu, Si-Hua Gao, Jun-Li Liu. "Curcumin and Diabetes: A Systematic Review." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal‎ 2013 (2013): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3857752/
  9. Boyd A, Bleakley C, Hurley DA, Gill C, Hannon-Fletcher M, Bell P, McDonough S. "Herbal medicinal products or preparations for neuropathic pain." Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 4 (2019): https://www.cochrane.org/CD010528/SYMPT_herbal-products-neuropathic-pain
  10. Galeotti N, Vivoli E, Bilia AR, Vincieri FF, Ghelardini C. "St. John's Wort reduces neuropathic pain through a hypericin-mediated inhibition of the protein kinase Cgamma and epsilon activity." Biochemical Pharmacology 79.9 (2010): 1327-1336. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20045676
  11. Dimitrova, Alexandra, MD, MA, MCR. "Introducing a Standardized Acupuncture Protocol for Peripheral Neuropathy: A Case Series." Medical Acupuncture 29.6 (2017): 352-365. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5733739/
  12. Gok Metin Z, Arikan Donmez A, Izgu N, Ozdemir L, Arslan IE. "Aromatherapy Massage for Neuropathic Pain and Quality of Life in Diabetic Patients." Journal of Nursing Scholarship 49.4 (2017): 379-388. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28605119
  13. Maria Domenica Sanna, Francisco Les, Victor Lopez, Nicoletta Galeotti. "Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Mill.) Essential Oil Alleviates Neuropathic Pain in Mice With Spared Nerve Injury." Frontiers in Pharmacology 10 (2019): 472. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521744/
  14. Henning Andersen, MD, PHD, Michaela D. Gjerstad, MD, Johannes Jakobsen, MD, PHD. "Atrophy of Foot Muscles. A Measure of Diabetic Neuropathy." Diabetes Care 27.10 (2004): 2382-2385. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/10/2382