This is a letter about the use of supplements for neuropathy. I did not write it but I support its contents. My product works faster but you can enhance its effects with the following information:
As far as I know there are four approaches to reversing neuropathy;
Dr. Bernstein’s approach is explained in his book “Diabetes Solution”. In essence he figured a way to keep Blood Glucose between 80 and 100 at all times by means of, high frequency testing, multiple small injections of different insulin's and a protein based diet. Keeping BG between 80 and 100 at all times will reverse neuropathy, as well as, prevent other diabetes complications.
The approach I have used is to take 10 mg. GLA with 480 mg. EPA, 4 gr.
Vitamin C and a low dose of Aspirin, 80 mg. daily.
GLA stands for gamma linolenic acid. It is an ingredient of vegetable oils.
I used Evening Primrose Oil, which has 45 mg. GLA per 500 mg. soft gel. About three drops is 10 mg. I bought it in the local pharmacy and $12 worth is going to last me about three years. There are reports in Medline that say that GLA taken with an anti oxidant is 7 - 30 times more effective in reversing neuropathy than GLA by itself. GLA with Vitamin C is 30 times more effective than GLA by itself. I really don’t know whether this helped me or not. As I have been taking Vitamin C and Aspirin for more than a decade, it just so happened that when I started taking GLA and EPA I took it with Vitamin C and Aspirin.
GLA is also available in Borage Oil, Blackcurrant Oil, and Fungal Oil. However there is a report in “Diabetes” that says that Borage Oil is not as effective. The experiments lead to the conclusion that there is another ingredient in Borage Oil, as yet unidentified, that is toxic to the action of GLA in humans. Diabetes, volume 46 supplement. David F. Horrobin, “Essential Fatty Acids in the Management of Impaired Nerve Function in Diabetes” Dr. Horrobin has been cited as the “world expert” on GLA.
EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid. It is an ingredient of the fat in cold water fish. Reportedly 4 oz. of salmon has 1.5 gr. of EPA. I take EPA in the form of fish oil soft gels, each contains 160 mg. of EPA (or 180 mg. depending) in a 1000 mg. soft gel. The right kind of fish oil is cholesterol free. The process of eliminating the cholesterol, also removes other contaminants such as heavy metals and PCB’s. The cholesterol free fish oil is a little hard to find, but Drug Emporium, my local discount pharmacy, carries it most of the time. It is relatively inexpensive one soft gel costs about $0.06.
GLA and EPA work together to promote the synthesis of Series 1 Prostaglandins and inhibit the synthesis of Series 2 Prostaglandins. This is important because one of the Series 1 Prostaglandins, PGE1, is a vasodilator, while one of the Series 2 Prostaglandins, Tromboxane A2 (TXA2), is a vasoconstrictor. GLA is a precursor to both PGE1 and TXA2, while EPA acts as an inhibitor of the synthesis of TXA2. So GLA makes the good stuff possible and EPA inhibits the wrong stuff, but only partially.
There is an intermediate precursor for the synthesis of TXA2, Arachidonic Acid (AA) that is in red meat and egg yolks. Ever hear about doctors recommending to lay off of eggs and red meat ? This is why. AA is also a precursor for Prostacyclin. Prostacyclin is also a vasodilator. The balance between Prostacyclin and TXA2 can be affected by a low dose of aspirin , 80-110 mg., and daily to favor the synthesis of Prostacyclin.
The balance of dilating the micro arteries and not constricting them seems to be the explanation for other ,“natural”, healing processes to repair the lost nerve functions. Most of what I started out with came from a book “Enter the Zone” by Dr. Barry Sears.
Medline has a mountain of information on GLA and EPA, confirming Dr. Sears’s information. Medline can be accessed at http://www.ncbi.nlm.gov/PubMed.
The earliest clinical, placebo controlled, double blind study on GLA reversing neuropathy that I am aware of, was done at a London hospital and reported in the Lancet in 1972.
My neuropathy was not very far advanced. I had numbness in the balls of my feet and all my toes. The diagnosis of neuropathy was done by nerve conduction velocity measurements. Above the knee I was normal, below the knee I was slightly subnormal and between the ankle and the foot I had nothing measurable.
It took three months to start to feel an improvement and after 13 months some feeling was returning to the balls of my feet, my toes were practically normal.
After 14 months the front of my feet were occasionally warm. That is warmer than the rest of me. This was easily verifiable by putting the front of one foot on the ankle of the other leg. When my feet were warm and I curled my toes I could not feel any numbness, it was gone. When my feet were cold however I could still feel it a little, but then again, after this many years I have no memory of what my feet felt like when they were cold, so I have really nothing to compare the current “cold feet feeling” to. After 17 months, there was no further improvement in the way my feet felt. After 18 months I was having an occasional night time erection, feels great ! After 21 months I reduced the dose of GLA to 7 mg. At about 27 months there was a definite increase in the feeling of numbness in the balls of my feet (it feels like walking on a cushion of water) and I increased the dosage of GLA back to 10 mg. Now, after 30 months ( and at the moment of this writing) my feet are warm and the feeling of numbness is gone again. I’ll stick with 10 mg of GLA.
From our friends north of the border I have received the comment that supplementation is expensive. Compared to no-cost it certainly is, compared to the consequences, this stuff is really cheap.
Vitamin C. I bought 500, 1000mg tablets for $31.95. 2 tablets each with breakfast and dinner is $0.25/day. GLA in Evening Primrose Oil. I bought 200 capsules of Evening Primrose Oil with 45 mg of GLA ea. for $14.00. But I use only 10 mg./day or $0.017 worth. EPA in fish oil, cholesterol free, 200 for $13.-.
Three per day is $0.20. Aspirin, 100 for $2.19, each tablet is 325 mg, and the dosage is 80 mg per day, comes to $0.005/day.
The third approach to reversing neuropathy uses anti-oxidants. One anti-oxidant is Alpha Lipoic Acid. There are many tests and trials reported in Medline ( alpha lipoic acid is the same as lipoic acid is the same as thioctic acid) showing reversal of the progress of neuropathy. The very interesting thing is that in the dosages used in the trials, 800-1200 mg. per day, the trials got results in 19 days. For painful cases of neuropathy this may bring relief, fast. The long term effects of Alpha Lipoic Acid are not known for these dosages. The reports emphasize that these dosages are safe for these short periods of time. I have seen one anecdote on the net reporting that 300-500 mg daily started to give relief in “a couple of weeks” and another using 600 mg/day. I have recently seen Alpha Lipoic Acid in my discount pharmacy. The cost for 21 days at 600 mg/day is $36.
There are also reports that low dosage Alpha Lipoic Acid ( 100-200 mg/day) help increase insulin sensitivity, and thereby reduce Blood Glucose levels. A recent report in Medline describes an experiment in a dish (in vitro) where Alpha Lipoic Acid did two things 1), it helped insulin activate GLUT4 and 2) it activated GLUT1.
After all that has been written and taught, it may come as a surprise, as it did to me, that insulin does NOT in fact transport glucose into muscle type cells. What insulin does, is activate a glucose transporter molecule (GLUT4) and GLUT4 does the transport of glucose into muscle type cells. The experiment shows that Alpha Lipoic Acid activates GLUT4 or helps insulin activate GLUT4. In addition, part two, Alpha Lipoic Acid activates GLUT1. GLUT1 is one of two glucose transporters responsible for the entry of glucose into brain cells. The importance of GLUT1 is that it is ubiquitous, apparently all cells have this transport molecule, but not in abundance. But what the hell even a little bit helps to keep BG under control.
I am taking 200 mg of Alpha Lipoic Acid daily. While I don’t know that I can conclusively point to Alpha Lipoic Acid, the fact is that after three months my fasting BG dropped to around 110 mg/dl. (from around 125)and my glyco hemoglobin has been high normal since then.
Another antioxidant used to reverse neuropathy is Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol is a trademarked specific combination of proanthocyanidins derived from the bark of the Maritime Pine. There are no clinical trials with Pycnogenol that I have been able to find. There are anecdotes. The proanthocyanidins are also available in Grape Seed Extract in both a specifically different combination than in Pycnogenol and with a 10-15% higher concentration. Typically Grape Seed Extract is one half to one third the price of Pycnogenol.
Laura Clift wrote a paper for the Diabetes Faqs Part 3 (with references) from which, first, there are no clinical trials with Pycnogenol and second, there persist to be anecdotes on the efficacy of Pycnogenol.
On a recent visit to my discount pharmacy I found that a therapeutic dose of Alpha Lipoic Acid, 600 mg. (from a clinical trial), costs $1.28 per day and a therapeutic dose of Pycnogenol, 1200 mg. (from Billy Nicky’s anecdote) costs $21.42 per day.
One pays one’s money and takes one’s choice.
For severe cases of diabetic neuropathy, those where amputation is a clear prospect, injections of vasodilators prostaglandin E1(PGE1) and papavarin, may avoid amputation. “ Of 85 patients suffering from wounds in their feet, none has had to undergo an amputation so far, and the side effects are minimal” The treatment is available in Israel at a cost of $1000-$3000 by MSW-International Medical Services Ltd., 16 King George St., Jerusalem, P.O. Box 46011 Jerusalem, Israel 91460, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A comprehensive website on neuropathy is maintained by Yngve Bersvendsen:
email@example.com and the website
1992, T2, 3xNPH/day