I have peripheral neuropathy and I know of something that can help your neuropathy symptoms. Permanently and positively help you for around $30 a month. No I'm not selling it, the $30 a month goes to anyone that you purchase the supplement from. That’s all it costs to help repair the nerve damage that causes such agony and distress. So, you say, “If that’s true, why hasn’t my doctor told me to take the supplement?” Doctors prescribe medicine based on what is sold to them. Doctors’ offices are given samples to hand out to patients. The patient uses the samples for a week to a month. When the patient comes back for a recheck, typically the doctor will ask how the patient did with the samples. If everything went okay, the doctor prescribes the same medication without even thinking of alternatives. Doctors are inundated with ads for various drugs by billion-dollar drug companies. Even medical websites are cluttered with ads from drug companies. When a doctor goes to prescribe a drug he or she is probably going to prescribe something that they’ve either been given samples of or they’ve seen lots of ads for. I have personally told a doctor the cost of a drug and his surprise was genuine. Often it is only when a patient complains will a doctor search for alternatives. Who is promoting this $30 a month supplement? Besides me, only the medical literature and vitamin retailers. If a doctor doesn’t read the right literature, how are they to know about this obscure supplement? There's so much for doctors to keep up with that it’s not surprising that this supplement is not well known.
WHAT IS IT?
I first read about it in Neurology News, an ezine (electronic magazine) for physicians that's available to anyone on the web. That's right, the information is there for everyone. The supplement is Alpha Lipoic Acid, a naturally occurring compound that our bodies make in small amounts. It is an antioxidant. Please refer to my page on Alpha Lipoic Acid for information on how an antioxidant works.
RESEARCH AND HISTORY
So how does this information relate to you? Can it help nerve damage you already have? Since the late '60s German doctors have been prescribing alpha-lipoic acid in pharmacologic doses (usually at least 10 times greater than the dose that is needed to prevent deficiency) to diabetic patients. And alpha-lipoic acid has been used to treat diabetic neuropathy in Germany for at least ten years. Those who took 1,200 mg/day orally of alpha-lipoic acid for two years showed improvement in their nerve conduction scores and improvement in their symptom scores. The symptoms started to improve after just a few months. Has your doctor done anything to improve your symptoms or nerve conduction scores? I'm not talking about pain medication; I'm talking about actual improvement in the health of the peripheral nerves.
WHO DOES IT HELP?
Before you get too excited, I'm going to tell you up front that not all types of neuropathy respond to treatment with Alpha Lipoic Acid. I know this first because a lot of people at the MSN Bulletin Board site called PN Friends have told me so. I do not know how long they have taken it or what dose they've used. My research has revealed that is probably true. I'm sorry if you are not likely to be helped with Alpha Lipoic Acid or ALA. Who generally gets good results from ALA treatment? Those with the demylinating forms of neuropathy. If you know you have a form of demylinating neuropathy you can skip the next part about finding out what type of neuropathy you have. Don't have to, just can.
THE GENERAL TYPES OF NEUROPATHY
First let's discuss the two main diagnostic types of neuropathy: large fiber and small fiber. As I understand it, large fiber neurologies cause problems with proprioception (the normal awareness of one's posture movement, balance, and location), numbness to light touch and the recognition of vibrations. Small fibers carry the sensations of pain and temperature and light touch. Myelinated small neuropathies are the ones that cause problems with the autonomic nervous system in addition to numbness, pain and temperature regulation. Demylinated small neuropathies are the ones that cause problems with numbness, pain and temperature regulation but not the autonomic nervous system.(1) Based on this information, I have summarized the above information in the table below:
NUMBNESS TO LIGHT TOUCH
PROPRIOCEP- TION PROBLEMS (Awareness of posture, movement, balance & location.)
PROBLEMS FEELING VIBRATIONS (i.e. Tuning Fork)
PROBLEMS WITH FEELING HOT & COLD
NERVOUS SYSTEM PROBLEMS
RESULTING TYPE OF NEUROPATHY
LARGE FIBER NEUROPATHY
MYELINATED SMALL FIBER NEUROPATHY
Throughout this website I have provided links to more detailed information if you want to go and see it or the research to back up what I've told you. Making things complicated is easy; I'm trying to simplify them here though so I'm going to stop with that explanation. However, don't diagnose yourself, ask your doctor what kind of neuropathy you have. Getting a confirmation lets you know whether this therapy can help you. I don't want you to get your hopes up or waste your money on ALA if it's not going to help. It is a naturally occurring antioxidant though so it can't hurt your general health. You probably don't need to take the theraputic doses of ALA unless you have nerve demylination, however, this is based on observational evidence only.
SAFETY OF ALA
Alpha-lipoic acid is safe and has no well-known drug interactions. There has never been any reports of toxicity from overdose of alpha-lipoic acid, however, there haven't been studies done with pregnant and lactating women so their use of alpha-lipoic acid supplements is not recommended.
HOW MUCH ALA IS THERAPUTIC?
The doses of alpha-lipoic acid suggested to be theraputic by research are hundreds of times higher than can be obtained by food sources. Alpha-lipoic acid is also rapidly metabolized by your body and it is, therefore, suggested that the recommended dose of 1,200 mg/day be broken down into as many divided doses as possible during the day. For instance, I take 600 mg two times a day. Break it down to whatever suits your medication schedule. A once-a-day dose is not suggested however.
Although I have read many articles on alpha-lipoic acid, the most comprehensive and best documented website I have found is Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Please consult their webpage for more information on theraputic doseages.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
Please note that most of the studies talk in terms of months. Be patient. It was four months before I felt any improvement in my peripheral neuropathy. My nerve damage was three years old. The older the area of my nerve damage, the slower my improvement. After eight years, I have full feeling, temperature sensations and FINALLY my pain is gone. See my web page My Story for more detail of my nerve improvement.
Information that is provided in this site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians.