Peripheral Neuropathy: Part Three
Peripheral Neuropathy: Part 3
Plant-Based Treatments for Neuropathy
This herb, derived from the Boswellia tree, is technically a resin (“frankincense”) and has been used therapeutically for centuries, primarily to reduce pain and swelling caused by inflammatory conditions.
The meta-study which is the source of most of this material we are examining, only has this to say about boswellia and neuropathy: “Numerous clinical studies have been conducted to assess the potential role of Boswellia serrata extract to counteract inflammation. The extract is a safe and fast acting compound able to exert analgesic properties in a wide spectrum of conditions. However, it is too early to establish clinical practice recommendations.”
I include boswellia here because I did find one study where boswellia, when combined with myrrh (another tree resin), proved effective at treating neuropathic pain (NP).
“According to traditional Chinese medicine, Frankincense-Myrrh is capable of “activating blood and dissipating blood stasis”, and as such these two biological compounds are commonly used to treat NP.” (Source)
St. John’s Wort
This plant, native to Europe and Asia, has also been used in traditional medicines for centuries. In rodent studies, extracts of St. John’s Wort have proven to “alleviate various conditions related to neuropathic pain”. As well, other rat studies found it to be as effective for treating CIPN (chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy) as antihyperalgesic drugs.
It has been established that hypericin and hyperforin are the active compounds in St. John’s Wort which alleviate pain, so when purchasing a supplement ensure that these are present in standardized amounts.
In the natural healing field, St. John’s Wort oil is also used topically to treat inflammation and nerve pain.
Hypericum perforatum (the Latin name for St. John’s Wort) is also a homeopathic remedy. “In homeopathy, Hypericum perforatum is known as a remedy for unbearable, shooting or jabbing pain especially when neural damage is involved.” Usually, one would use a 30C or 200C strength (best to speak with one familiar with homeopathy in order to determine which strength is most appropriate for your condition). The remedy is taken every hour or so when symptoms are flaring, until relief is obtained, at which point one discontinues until the next flare up. (More on homeopathic Hypericum.)
Curcumin is a compound found in the spice Turmeric, and by now most people are aware of its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientific studies tend to use mostly isolated curcumin, whereas natural products focus on a more complete concentrate of the plant including the whole family of curcuminoids.
A number of rodent studies have proven curcumin to be effective in the treatment of neuropathic pain conditions, especially when treating allodynia and DN (diabetic neuropathy).
“In a controlled study with 160 patients under chemotherapy, curcumin was administered with an optimized delivery system to assess its ability to prevent or counteract CIPN. This nutraceutical administration led to an overall alleviation of the CIPN condition.”
This is the point at which I like to recommend a germane product from Nutristart, which in this case would be our Liposomal Curcumin/Resveratrol. Since the liposomal form of curcumin is perhaps the most absorbable form available it is a good choice for anyone suffering from any form of neuropathy.
And, as our product also contains Resveratrol, another powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, I did a quick search to see if that additional ingredient had any benefit for treating PN. Indeed, resveratrol was found to reduce pain and inflammation, and to protect peripheral nerves in cases of DN. (Source)
Capsaicin, the compound that causes the burning and irritant effect of chili peppers is also used topically as an “analgesic treatment for various disorders, including neuropathic pain conditions such as DN.” Capsaicin-based creams, lotions and patches are used daily to help reduce pain symptoms.
There is some implication that taking cayenne internally can also help with treatment but no therapeutic dose has yet been established, so most of the science is based only on topical use.
A protein digesting enzyme derived from pineapple, bromelain “exerts a wide range of effects such as anti-inflammatory and fibrinolytic effects, anti-cancer activity and immunomodulatory effects, wound healing, and others”.
In rat studies, bromelain significantly reduced neuropathic pain in conditions of allodynia and sciatica, as well as other models of neuropathy.
Since bromelain will work first to digest protein, in order to gain benefit from its secondary functions it must be taken between meals. (Usually 500 mg is taken three times daily.)
In Part 4, we leave the plant kingdom and have a look at some other nutriceuticals that have value in treating neuropathic pain.
(Author: All newsletters and blogs are written by Ken Peters who has worked as a nutritional consultant for the last 30 years, and as product designer for NutriStart for the last 25 years. He has also authored two books – Health Secrets Vol. 1&2. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)