Neuropathy is a problem caused by damage within the peripheral nervous system, the system of nerves that lies outside of your brain and spinal cord and spans throughout the rest of your body. The nervous system is incredibly large and complex, which means neuropathic pain can manifest in a number of ways and can be really difficult to treat.
Medications used to treat heart problems, seizures, and even some anti-depressants are frequently used to treat neuropathy, but these medications often come with a lengthy list of potential side effects.
In extreme cases, surgery may be required to treat neuropathic pain. In many cases, however, using holistic medicine for neuropathy can help you find relief without risking the many side effects associated with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Below, learn about 6 holistic treatments for neuropathy, plus 2 lifestyle changes that may help naturally manage neuropathic pain.
Various studies have found that proper supplementation can make a significant impact on the symptoms of neuropathy. According to the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, the following vitamins may be most helpful:
One alternative treatment that you may not have heard of yet is cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD. CBD is a hemp-derived cannabinoid that is non-psychoactive, but that interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system to regulate all sorts of things ranging from pain appetite and even mood.
Some research has found CBD to be potentially effective for managing different types of pain and inflammatory conditions, but a few select studies have found that it may be useful for managing neuropathic pain.
One animal study found that CBD may be useful for reducing neuropathic pain when taken orally by targeting certain pain-inducing receptors in the nervous system. The study concluded that CBD may “significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain” without causing any tolerance.
A recent study from 2020 found that CBD oil may be useful for managing neuropathic pain when applied topically. It found that there was a “statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations” in patients who used CBD compared to the control group. The researchers also suggested that no adverse effects were reported in any patient.
Because CBD acts as a regulator in the body, it's most effective when taken every day as part of your supplemental wellness routine. Our Vitality CBD Multivitamin Gummies make this super easy, and they also contain essential vitamin B12 and D3, which may pose their own benefits for managing neuropathic inflammation and pain. You may also want to read “How Many CBD Gummies Should I Take?”
You've probably heard of the more common cannabinoid, THC, which is used for a variety of medical applications in states where medical cannabis is legal. Many studies look at the use of cannabis flower or extract in which the main active component is THC and the results are overwhelmingly positive.
One meta-analysis evaluated a variety of current research and random controlled trials and found cannabis to be “as effective as common pharmaceutical drugs for treating neuropathic pain.”
In states where medical cannabis is legal, neuropathic pain is a commonly accepted qualifying condition for THC use. In states where THC is illegal, Delta-8-THC may be a good alternative. It’s federally legal and legal in most states. Read our Ultimate Delta-8-THC Guide to learn more.
Many sources list the following essential oils or herbal oils as having some sort of anti-inflammatory or pain relieving benefits:
Here, we want to focus on the holistic remedies for neuropathy that have some scientific support. Luckily, some of these essential oils have been found to have potential benefits for managing neuropathy and related conditions.
A 2015 study found that borneol, one of the primary compounds in Chamomile and Lavender essential oils, may be able to help relieve pain and inflammation related to neuropathy.
A 2016 study looked at the effectiveness of various aromatherapeutic oils during a procedure that involves inserting a tube into a peripheral vein, which directly impacts the nervous system. The study found that participants that used lavender aromatherapy during the procedure experienced less pain and anxiety than the control group.
A 2002 study found that peppermint oil, when used topically, helped relieve symptoms of neuralgia in a 76-year-old woman who was otherwise resistant to traditional therapies. The relief lasted 4-6 hours after application of the peppermint oil.
An interesting study in 2010 found that a homeopathic formulation consisting of geranium, lavender, bergamot, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils reduced neuropathic foot pain in 56 out of 60 patients in only 30 minutes.
Capsaicin, the active compound that makes cayenne peppers spicy, may also have some anti-inflammatory and pain relieving benefits that are useful as a holistic medicine for neuropathy.
In fact, one FDA approved medication for treating neuropathy includes a potent capsaicin patch. Capsaicin can be found in many topical creams and salves. It can also be taken internally to potentially improve the severity of pain and inflammation.
Because capsaicin works as a topical to relieve discomfort, it can easily be paired with a systemic option from this list to help relieve pain.
Acupuncture is a traditional therapy used in Chinese medicine that's believed to "balance the flow of energy to help promote healing" within the body. By Western medicines standards, acupuncture is thought to stimulate pressure points that may help relieve tension and pain in nerves and muscles.
Acupuncture is frequently used to treat pain and may be a useful holistic remedy for neuropathy. As acupuncture needles are carefully inserted into pressure points, the body releases endorphins that help relieve pain in the spine, muscles, and brain.
A 2007 study found that when used as an alternative treatment for neuropathic pain, acupuncture actually improved symptoms in more patients than those undergoing more traditional therapies.
Acupuncture needs to be performed by a professional, so it’s not quite as accessible as many options on this list. It may, however, provide long term relief that outshines many other therapeutic options.
Diet can significantly impact neuropathic symptoms, and diabetes is a leading cause of neuropathy. Making certain diet changes may help control or lessen the symptoms of neuropathy.
For instance, if you are diabetic, a diet rich in fiber and low in carbohydrates can help prevent blood sugar spikes that can insight neuropathic pain. Even if you don't have diabetes, you may want to consider certain diet changes like:
It may come without surprise, but exercise generally promotes healthy muscles and nerves. In some cases, a proper exercise routine may help manage blood sugar, which may be helpful for those who struggle with neuropathy due to diabetes.
Regular exercise can improve the overall function of your circulatory system and take pressure off of peripheral vessels, which may generally help reduce neuropathic pain. Vigorous exercise is not necessary, but gentle stretching, a light walk or short jog, or any other sort of regular physical activity may significantly help.
In conclusion, neuropathy, caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system, can be a challenging condition to treat. However, there are a number of holistic approaches that can provide relief from neuropathic pain, including supplementation with vitamins, taking CBD daily, using THC, or trying botanical oils. Each of these treatments has been found to be effective for managing neuropathy, either through scientific studies or anecdotal evidence.
While it's important to speak with your doctor before starting any new treatment, incorporating these holistic approaches into your wellness routine may help you find relief from neuropathic pain without relying on prescription or over-the-counter medications that often come with side effects.
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