Thursday, 26 May 2016

Making Sense Of The Neuropathy Supplement Maze

Today's post from (see link below) is an extremely useful evaluation of various supplements for neuropathy symptoms. We've all heard of this or that supplement that might or might not work in reducing the relentless symptoms that ruin our daily lives but finding articles that both list them and explain how they may work, is more difficult. This article is therefore pretty useful but it would still be wise to do more research of your own and consult with your doctor because the problem with supplements (just as with neuropathy medications) is that what works for one, doesn't do a thing for the other. It's almost always a question of trying things out over a period of time (you can't expect something to work after 2 weeks use) and working out whether there's a genuine improvement or not. Then there's the question of cost! Supplements are not cheap and you'll need to budget for something that may not work - tough choices but if you've tried everything else, you may regard the cost as being worth it. Watch out for dosages too. You quite often need relatively high doses of supplements so it's best to buy pills that are already high dosage rather than starting off small and building up. That said, you need to do as much research as possible to avoid both under- and over-dosing. It seems like a unnavigable maze and unfortunately that's exactly what it is but neuropathy patients are used to all that and are often health shops' best customers!

Nerve Pain, Peripheral Neuropathy Support 
Coachuser May 10, 2016

Pins and needles, burning, sharp, shooting nerve pain is often debilitating, challenging to manage, and chronic. Numerous causes exist for nerve pain or neuropathy ranging from sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, shingles, diabetes, cancer treatment, nutritional deficiencies, trigeminal neuralgia, nerve compression and scar tissue injury, gluten intolerance, and autoimmune disorders.

Anti-seizure medications like Lyrica and Neurotin, antidepressants, or major narcotics are the most frequently prescribed drugs for neuropathic pain. These toxic drugs can be mind-numbing, addictive, or simply provide little relief from the unrelenting nerve pain. Medications often fail to address the underlying mechanisms of the nerve injury, but rather apply a symptomatic band-aid. As the focus for cost-effective health care looks more at evidence-based medicine, research shows that nutritional support plays very key roles in preventing and protecting nerves from injury and neuropathy.

Fundamental Nutrients

When it comes to keeping nerves healthy from inflammatory injury and neuropathy, several nutrients fit the job description, each playing a vital role in their own way. A recent study written by pharmacologists and a medical doctor cited several well-known nutrients fundamental to neuropathy management. It is welcoming to see traditional practitioners look outside the failing medical paradigm in order to help the patient with disabling neuropathy.

These well-known nutrients for neuropathy include acetyl-l-carnitine, lipoic acid, B vitamins (B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxal 5 phosphate), B12 (methylcobalamin), and folate), GLA (good omega 6 oil), magnesium, and capsaicin, the ingredient found in hot peppers. There are several other nutrients studied for nerve support and peripheral neuropathy. These include glutathione, N-acetyl-cysteine, biotin, zinc, chromium, curcumin, quercetin, grape seed extract, calcium AEP, niacin and more. Here are some key nutrients for protecting nerves from injury that induces chronic nerve pain.


Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) has been heavily studied for a nerve pain concerns. This is in addition to its well-known benefits for brain health including improving memory and cognitive skills, and protecting the proteins in the brain to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

ALC works by helping to make acetylcholine which is essential for the myelin fat sheath around nerves. It also works for memory support as acetylcholine is the main neurotransmitter for memory. Without adequate acetylcholine or if there are methylation defects affecting choline function, nerves are left exposed with challenged repair mechanisms. The risk for neuropathy increases as a result. This was recently identified in individuals with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis.

Neuropathy not only affects the nerves in the arms and legs, but it also affects the heart as autonomic neuropathy. Autonomic neuropathy is common in diabetics and may be seen as trouble with heart rate, temperature regulation, blood pressure, and blood sugar. One of the main nutrients for protecting autonomic neuropathy and unhealthy heart rate variability is choline. Acetyl-L-Carnitine helps make choline and offers great benefits for stabilization.

ALC can counteract drug-induced mitochondrial damage that affects nerves by its antioxidant effects, improving cellular energy metabolism, or enhancing the response to nerve growth factor. All of these mechanisms must be protected to keep nerves healthy. Common ALC doses for nerve pain and neuropathy support ranges from 1,500 to 3,000 mg per day and is generally very well tolerated. It is a well-researched and excellent primary nutrient for nerve support.

R-Alpha Lipoic Acid

Lipoic acid is among the best well-researched nutrients for peripheral neuropathy and has been used for decades as a natural treatment choice. It is fat and water soluble antioxidant able to regenerate other antioxidants. This mechanism makes it incredibly valuable for protecting and preventing nerve injury, especially diabetic neuropathy. Numerous studies demonstrate substantial improvement in overall nerve pain symptoms including lancinating and burning pain, numbness, and tingling. Lipoic acid 8 has been shown to reduce lipid peroxidation. This severely damaging oxidative stress to delicate nerve tissues is commonly induced by excess blood sugar. Lipoic acid protects against the excess blood sugar that causes nerve injury and stiffness in tissues like capillaries.

Lipoic acid dosage for diabetic neuropathy or other types of neuropathy ranges from 300 to 600 mg per day in divided doses. This dosage primarily reflects the use of plain alpha lipoic acid. However, R-alpha lipoic acid is the most active form of lipoic acid and the natural form. Plain alpha lipoic acid is only 50 percent active. This means that the dose of R-alpha lipoic acid packs twice as much of a therapeutic punch than plain alpha lipoic acid.

Critical B Vitamins

Neuropathy support should always include the essential B vitamins, especially vitamin B1 (thiamin), B6 (pyridoxal 5’-phosphate), B12 (methylcobalamin), folic acid as the bioactive folate, and biotin. 10 Deficiencies in any one of these nutrients can easily lead to nerve pain, numbness, tingling, and chronic neuropathy. Diabetics, in particular, need ample amounts of these nutrients, especially biotin, B1, B12, and folate for nerve health and the underlying impaired sugar metabolism. It is imperative with neuropathy problems to use methylated or coenzyme forms of B6, B12, and folate. Nerve health requires proper methylation or the addition of a methyl group to make and protect nerve tissue. Methylation defects interfere with B6, B12, and folate function making disease risk much higher. Methylated forms of these nutrients help to by-pass this dysfunction.

In a recent real-world patient experience trial, diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy found relief with supplementation of methylcobalamin, pyridoxal 5’-phosphate, and methyl-folate. The patients had improved quality of life and function with even better medical response.

It’s not just diabetics and the drug treatments that rob the body of nutrients, cancer patients have this need too. Treatments often interfere with B12 and folate or are simply toxic to the mitochondria in nerve tissues and the brain. The very drugs that are used to treat neuropathy symptoms or the disorder causing the neuropathy can actually deplete several essential nutrients required to protect the nerves. That is, the drugs that treat neuropathy can perpetuate the neuropathy because they interfere with the nutritional requirements for the nerves.

Biotin doesn’t get the same attention as some of the other B vitamins, but research shows that it may help eye nerve inflammation problems and even neuropathy changes seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Biotin helps blood sugar function which is especially valuable for Alzheimer’s as it considered type 3 diabetes. Biotin is often used for diabetic neuropathy.

Chemotherapy Induced Neuropathy

Neuropathy from cancer treatments is a real danger. Sometime the nerve damage will slowly resolve on its own once the treatment has stopped. Other times the neuropathy persists. Researchers have identified a number of nutrients that may help protect and reduce the severity of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy.

A review study published in February 2016 screened 1,465 publications for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy natural treatment options. Of those publications, they focused on twelve randomized, control trials. The nutrients that stood out in those twelve studies that helped to prevent or reduce chemotherapy nerve injury included vitamin E, l-glutamine, and omega-3 essential fatty acids like DHA/EPA. Other nutritional options were not discussed. Dosages were not provided in this publication.

In the case of platinum-induced neuropathy, current research shows that the amino acid glutamine reduced the severity of the neuropathy. Platinum-based therapy is also known as oxaliplatin, or cisplatin therapy, and is commonly used for colon, ovarian, and testicular cancer, small-cell lung cancer, lymphomas, and bladder and cervical cancer treatments. An August 2015 study showed that intravenous glutamine reduced the severity of symptomatic platinum-induced neuropathy. Other nutrients shown effective against cisplatin or other platinum based chemotherapies induced neuropathy includes acetyl-L-carnitine, vitamin E, glutathione, grape seed extract, and NAC. Pretreatment with calcium and magnesium prior to the platinum-based chemotherapy has been shown to reduce complications of neuropathy and even chemo-brain.

Neuropathy in Pregnancy

Neuropathy challenges even affect healthy, expecting moms from enormous changes that occur in the woman’s body during pregnancy. The physical changes and compressive weight of the unborn child during pregnancy and childbirth can make one more susceptible to nerve injury. This may include sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, or other nerve entrapment concerns. Medical treatment normally used for neuropathy in adults is contraindicated during pregnancy.

There is, however, solid information that demonstrates lipoic acid is a useful tool for neuropathy during pregnancy. Lipoic acid protects mitochondria found in nerves by providing strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Researchers recommended using lipoic acid because of its high safety profile and successful management of nerve pain during pregnancy. Acetyl-L-carnitine, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium AEP, NAC, glutathione, curcumin, and the omega-3 and 6 oils may be used during pregnancy for nerve support and inflammation management.

Hyaluronic Acid, Curcumin, Grape Seed Extract, and Calcium AEP

A handful of studies in recent years demonstrate another benefit of hyaluronic acid in the case of nerve injuries like sciatica (the nerve that causes low back and leg pain) and other nerve entrapments like Morton’s neuroma. Morton’s neuroma is a painful nerve entrapment in the ball of the foot usually between the third and fourth toes. One cellular study showed that hyaluronic acid was able help recovery of a crushed sciatic nerve within 4-8 weeks of nerve injury. Add nerve regeneration to hyaluronic acid benefits.

Wellness Resources has relied on grape seed extract, curcumin and calcium AEP for decades to help manage nerve pain. These ingredients have stood the test of time. Animal studies found that grape seed extract safely decreased the sensation of pain and increased pain tolerance in rodents with nerve compression injuries. The spice, curcumin has extensive research in a multitude of arenas. These include prevention and protection of injured nerves and anti-inflammatory actions in cell, animal, and human studies with ongoing extraordinary results.

Calcium AEP has been used historically in Germany for MS patients. Research has shown that the active ingredient, phosphoethanolamine, or the AEP portion of calcium AEP, is crucial for keeping the nerve sheath intact around nerve cells. Calcium AEP is helpful for a wide variety of nerve related pain issues like shingles, sciatica, diabetic neuropathy, and even simple nerve stress. It is definitely something to have on hand when there is a nerve stress.

Those who are living with nerve injuries often find themselves at wit’s end with the incessant nerve pain. Sometimes, the pain is self-limiting and in other cases, it can drain the quality of life out from under you. Many people find the neuropathy medications so sedating or ineffective. Thankfully, years of research and clinical experience shows that there are several stellar options for nerve pain management. Prevention is ideal, but when life happens and fragile nerves are injured, there are helpful choices.

Make sure your B vitamin status is optimal. Use enough support with the classic nerve nutrients like ALC and R-alpha lipoic acid. We often recommend additional support like DHA, curcumin, magnesium, and calcium AEP. If you need additional heavy hitters for specific types of nerve pain, consider grape seed extract, l-glutamine, vitamin E, choline, NAC, and hyaluronic acid. Repetitively soaking your feet in buckets of ice water to calm down a neuropathy flare-up may not need to take place if one can reduce the underlying inflammation. These nutrients offer powerful healing choices and protection to delicate tissues.

Nutritional Options

Acetyl-L-Carnitine – ALC provides critical nutrients for the formation of the insulation around nerve tissue. It also helps nerves repair and nourishes the mitochondria within nerves. It is a primary nutrient for many different types of neuropathy and nerve health concerns.

R-Alpha Lipoic Acid – R-alpha lipoic acid is the 100% natural form of lipoic acid. This prized antioxidant is the go-to nutrient for pins and needles, sharp, lancinating, burning pain of injured nerves. It is well tolerated and may be easily used with ALC or other nutrients.

B Vitamins – B vitamins like biotin, methylcobalamin, methylated folate, activated B6, thiamin, and niacin are fundamental to nerve health. Simple deficiencies in any one of these B vitamins can lead to nerve pain. Stress, high carb diets, alcohol, methylation gene defects, and numerous medications provoke increased need for B vitamins. Biotin deserves special mention for its critical role in blood sugar function. It helps regulate blood sugar function but also helps protect nerves from injury.

Grape Seed Extract – Grape seed extract, commonly known for its connective tissue support, offers excellent antioxidant protection to nerve tissue. Even in the case of toxic chemotherapy drugs, grape seed extract can help reduce and prevent chemotherapy-induced nerve injury.

Curcumin – Curcumin offers a dazzling array of protection to the human body. Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, nerve regenerative, and mitochondria support are just some of the known benefits of curcumin.

L-Glutamine – L-glutamine research shows that it offers protection against neuropathy. This amino acid is often primarily thought of as helping the digestive tract lining and muscle tissues. Consider adding this versatile amino acid to your arsenal if facing platinum-based chemotherapy drugs.

Calcium AEP – Calcium AEP has a long-standing track record with clinical use in several types of nerve disorders. It may be used to help simply support the body when stressed out or it may be used as a powerful tool for nerve pain disorders.

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Making Personal Choices About Nerve Damage Treatment

Today's post from (see link below) is the personal story of someone living with PRMS (Progressive-relapsing Multiple Sclerosis) but it is also the story of someone making their own choices when it comes to symptoms, severity of symptoms, doctors and the medications they prescribe. There are wise lessons for all of us living with neuropathy here and although the article doesn't talk about neuropathy as such (MS is also a serious neurological illness), it suggests a way of approaching the way our disease is treated and how much we need to take some of the control for ourselves. Well worth a read.

Body science
Posted on May 15, 2016 

I seem to have the twitches today. Not the normal ones that I live with, this is more like a shudder that is travelling through my entire body, but only, in the parts of me that are actually moving. If any part of me is motionless, then I don’t feel a thing. Should I move my hand and say my foot at the same time, the shudder is there identically in both. It’s not only bizarre but it is also mildly upsetting. I know that I have felt it before, exactly when or what caused it then or now, I don’t have the slightest idea. It’s one of those things like so many others, appears, disturbers me for a while and vanishes. Admittedly, it doesn’t cause me any pain, it doesn’t do me any harm, but the same can be said for much of what happens in my body and possibly yours. Yet all of us go on daily, living with these things that no one really cares about because they aren’t going to kill us. Tell your doctor, and they might give you some kind of medicine that might possibly help, but they probably aren’t any more sure about it than we are, plus, they don’t have to live with their side effects.

I learned a long time ago that I had to gauge for myself, just how important it is for me to be rid of this or that symptom. To begin with, I was more than happy to take whatever drug they threw at me. I have and still do have amazing trust in my doctors, but I learned not to have the same trust in their medications. The problem I now know has a huge amount to do with my condition. I didn’t know it then, but I do now, that PRMS is notorious for not responding to any of the range of MS medications. When I was first diagnosed, according to the internet, PRMS didn’t exist. I even questioned my consultant as to why no one had heard of it. Apparently, it was rare, that rare, that the world wasn’t interested and that included the pharmaceutical industry. There are no drugs that are out there, not even the ones designed for MS patients that will ever help me with any of it other than the pain. Both of us, were in a world of discovery as my body was only going to respond if it suited it, not because it worked for others. In the first five years, I was changing drug after drug searching for the ones that would work the best. Then I called a halt to it. I worked out a hit and miss list, I ditched all the meds that didn’t work for me, regardless what my doctors said, and I kept the ones that I could live with. That was my first rule, “It had to work for me”.

That decision was closely followed by the one that said, “Can I live with this symptom, or do I need help”. It is so easy to run to our doctors every time that something happens that is different. Just because it is something that the average person would find terrifying, doesn’t mean it is something to be terrified by. My test mark is to say, “Is this symptom impairing my life”. This tremor or probably more accurately, this quiver, doesn’t stop me doing anything. It slows me down, but it doesn’t actually stop me doing things, therefore, I don’t need a doctor, and I don’t need medication for it. In fact, the only time I really turn to my doctor is when I am in pain. If it hadn’t been for the pain my intercostal muscles and diaphragm were causing me, I wouldn’t have been diagnosed with COPD when I was. Not being able to breathe was something I had grown used to, not being able to breathe and being in pain, was something I didn’t like at all.

The medications that I do take, I don’t know if they work for anyone else, or have even been tested on animals, but they have been tested on me. My small selection that I am on now, may not be the standard for MS, but they work for me and that is what matters. People ask me all the time if I have been on this drug or that one. Partly, because of my bad memory, I’m not always able to say, but I always question, why they are asking me, and are not testing them on themselves. Yes, I have a rare condition that is known not to respond as others do, but I honestly believe whatever our condition, the only way to find out if it’s going to help us, isn’t to read about it, or talk to others about it, it is quite simply to try it, and to remember, you can come off it again as easily as you started it. Our doctors can only advise us and suggest what they think will help. Unless they happen to share your condition, they won’t have tried it personally, and don’t even assume they have prescribed it to anyone else either, remember, all forms of MS are reasonable rare. After many years of practice, when my GP read my diagnosis, he told me I was the first person ever on his books to have the condition. Most of the time, our doctors are offering us a drug they know nothing about, other than what they have read. If it doesn’t work for you, well they always seem to have another one to offer, if you truly believe you really need it.

All of us have different body chemistries and every drug will work slightly differently for almost all of us. Hence those stupid lists of “possible side effects”, so many people miss that word “possible” and assume they will get them all. To date, I have only been aware of a handful of drugs that have ever caused me any issues, and they were really not worth mentioning.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

It's Lyme Time Again: Neuropathy A Potential Danger

Today's post from (see link below) may seem at first glance to be a suitable photo opportunity for Canada's shiny new PM but it also brings the dangers of Lyme disease once more to the fore and that can never be a bad thing. Lyme disease, caused by tick bites in many natural recreation areas, produces a mysterious ailment that includes nerve damage as a significant danger. Many people have heard of it but because its range of symptoms may only appear months after the initial bite, it's not taken as seriously as it should be. There are several other articles about Lyme disease here on the blog (use the search button to the right of this page to find them) and the links embedded in this article may also be of help but don't underestimate the problems tick bites can cause. If you're out in the countryside, or even walking through long grass, always check for bites when you get home because the evidence can quickly disappear even though the damage has been done.

Justin Trudeau challenged to suck on a lime for Lyme disease awareness
Request comes days before Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Conference in Ottawa
By Kristy Hoffman, CBC News Posted: May 14, 2016

Marnie LePage's daughter Brooke, 13, was formally diagnosed with Lyme disease by a lab in California in 2015.

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Lyme disease, other tick-borne illnesses prompt warning in Manitoba

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Public Health Reminder: Lyme disease

(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

A volunteer group dedicated to Lyme disease awareness, prevention and support in Manitoba is challenging Canada's government to participate in what they're calling "The Lyme Sucks Challenge."

Specifically, the Manitoba Lyme Disease Group is challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Health Minister Jane Philpott to complete the challenge. It involves declaring, "Lyme sucks" before sucking on a lime, posting a video of the challenge to social media and donating to the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation.

A similar campaign called The Ice Bucket Challenge, where participants videotape themselves dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads, has raised millions for ALS research and support.

The group's challenge for the Trudeau government comes days before the Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Conference in Ottawa, which is scheduled to run from Sunday to Tuesday.

Marnie Le Page, 40, will be there.

Le Page's 13-year-old daughter, Brooke, has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, but the diagnosis came months after Le Page believes she contracted it.
'In bed all the time'

According to Le Page, Brooke was infected at a corn maze in Manitoba at the end of October 2014. While Le Page says she does not remember seeing a tick bite, her daughter started exhibiting flu-like symptoms — including excruciating headaches, joint and muscle pain and debilitating fatigue — by December.

Before becoming ill, Brooke was a competitive swimmer, spending 20 hours per week training at the pool.

Le Page's 13-year-old daughter, Brooke was a competitive swimmer before she contracted Lyme disease. This photograph was taken at one of the last swim meets in which she was fully able to participate, in July 2014.

"By March, she was in bed all the time. She couldn't even watch television or read a book. All tests from the emergency room came back [normal]. The one thing they never tested for is Lyme disease," Le Page said.

"I requested [the test] from several different places. They said it wasn't possible to get Lyme disease at that time of year and they wouldn't run the test." 

Lyme disease response requires collaboration in Canada
Lyme Disease-carrying ticks: 5 things you should know

Lyme disease, a serious illness spread through ticks, can cause a wide range of symptoms, including arthritis, neurological problems, numbness and paralysis, some of which can last months or years. In rare cases, it can prove fatal.

The Le Page family flew to California, where Brooke was formally diagnosed with Lyme disease at a laboratory called IGeneX, Inc.
'Our system here isn't adequate'

"Everything is at our expense handling her treatment," Le Page said. "Any doctor appointments we've had at the lab since; every treatment, antibiotics, travel costs. Everything is out of pocket for us."

Le Page has since left work to care for Brooke full-time. Still, she said it was a, "blessing in disguise" to have her daughter diagnosed out of province.

"Our system here isn't adequate for that," she said.

Man lives with 'alien' Lyme disease that 'makes you crazy'

Some common responses to her requests that her daughter be tested were, "Lyme isn't [in Manitoba]," or, "It's not very common," Le Page said.

"We could afford the testing. There are many people who can't," she said.

"I met a man [in Manitoba on Friday] who had had Lyme disease for 19 years. He struggles with it and he was in rough shape."

New hope

Le Page said the Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Conference in Ottawa has renewed her sense of hope for adequate treatment in Canada, so long as planning and development involves input from patients and caregivers.

"The fact that there is a conference and they're inviting people all across Canada — they're either patients or caregivers — is they're recognizing there is a problem that has to be addressed," she said.

"So I am hopeful that there is going to be changes made and hope that they're going to allow us to be part of that change."

As for Brooke, Le Page said despite having to travel to obtain a diagnosis, doctors caught the disease early and it has not affected her mobility. Still, the consequences have been devastating.

"She's in junior high. That's a huge part of your social development, and Lyme disease has ups and downs. She was seeing friends last summer. We were hiking. Then, in the fall time something happened and she went down again. She's still trying to pick up again," she said.

"It's a daily battle."

Monday, 23 May 2016

Can Marijuana Be Moved To The 'Less-Restricted' List For Chronic Pain Patients?

Today's post from (see link below) takes the discussion about medical marijuana a little further and looks at the dilemmas doctors face when confronted by patients' valid questions regarding their pain treatment and the laws that cloud the picture and make them uncertain as to whether they're doing the right thing. It's a call for considerably more research to be done at official drug-enforcement levels and asks for a further loosening of restrictions to enable an unbiased and science-based evaluation of the benefits of marijuana for various conditions. It's a valid point because we already allow several drugs which have the potential to be far more addictive (oxycodon, morphine and many others) to help patients with chronic pain but it seems that marijuana has so many pre-judged labels attached that law enforcers just can't see beyond the decades-old criminality issues. Worth a read.

What DEA Pot Rule Change May Mean for Research WebMD News from HealthDay
By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
TUESDAY, May 10, 2016


Agency could move marijuana to a less strictly regulated class of drugs

 (HealthDay News) -- Most doctors approach medical marijuana with a great deal of uncertainty, because drug laws have hindered researchers' ability to figure out what pot can and can't do for sick patients.

That could soon change.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is weighing whether to loosen its classification of marijuana, which would remove many restrictions on its use in medical research.

If that occurs, doctors could start getting answers to the questions they regularly receive from patients regarding marijuana's clinical benefits.

"I am asked as a practicing doctor even in a rural area about medical marijuana use, and I want to make sure I can give patients advice that's evidence-based," said Dr. Robert Wergin, board chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "We need those kinds of studies to help us give informed advice to our patients who ask about it now," he explained.

The DEA has said it will decide this summer whether marijuana should be lowered from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug, according to an April memo from the agency to Congress.

Schedule I drugs are considered drugs "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," the DEA says on its website. Heroin, LSD and ecstasy stand alongside marijuana on the DEA's Schedule I list.

On the other hand, Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, but "there is the recognition that they have some medical value as well," said Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, a professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn.

"This could be an important softening of regulations that make it difficult to do marijuana or cannabis research in this country," Bostwick said.

Morphine, methamphetamine, cocaine and oxycodone are all Schedule II drugs, "because they have medical applications," Bostwick said. "So, it's not as if we don't have precedent for substances that are dangerous from an addictive point of view being useful in certain medical situations."

Studies have shown that marijuana might help decrease chronic pain and nausea, ease seizures, improve the appetite or be useful in psychiatric treatment, Wergin and Bostwick said.

But none of those studies has been large-scale and a definitive clinical trial. The reason: because marijuana's DEA drug status prevents scientists from using large quantities of the plant in medical research, Wergin and Bostwick said.

All marijuana available for research purposes in the United States is grown at the University of Mississippi, which has an exclusive contract with the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to provide the nation's entire research supply, according to the DEA's memo to lawmakers.

In any given year, NIDA sends shipments of marijuana to a small handful of researchers, usually eight or nine, but sometimes as many as 12, the memo states. Researchers must go through a detailed registration process to gain access to the pot.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has come out in favor of loosening drug laws to "develop a special schedule for marijuana to facilitate study of its potential medical utility in prescription drug products," according to a statement its officials provided ABC News.

"While studies related to a limited number of medical conditions have shown promise for new cannabinoid-based prescription products, the scope of rigorous research needs to be expanded to a broader range of medical conditions for such products," the AMA added.

Back in December 2014, the American Academy of Neurology lamented the lack of solid marijuana research in a position paper.

Due to strict drug laws, researchers have not been able to determine whether medical marijuana could help treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, the academy said.

The academy's paper concluded with a call to deschedule marijuana and open it up to more research.

Expanded research wouldn't necessarily lead to more people smoking pot for medical purposes, Wergin and Bostwick said.

Instead, it's more likely that researchers would focus on how the components of marijuana, such as THC or cannabidiol, interact with the body in ways that might help ease symptoms or illness.

An entire system of receptors has been discovered throughout the body that responds to different components of cannabis, Bostwick said.

"Almost any system you name in the body has a potential cannabinoid receptor that could be manipulated in a way that could be useful," he said. "When the drug was outlawed in 1970, we knew almost nothing about it. In the intervening 45 years, science has shown this endocannabinoid system actually exists. None of that was known when the drug was made illegal."

Such research could result in medications derived from marijuana that would treat conditions without a "high," Wergin said.

Wergin sees two main potential benefits from the descheduling of marijuana and any resulting boom in research.

First, he'd know what to tell patients about pot's particular benefits. And second, he'd feel confident issuing a prescription for a marijuana-based medication, knowing that it's a drug regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"This would result in higher-quality standardized product that's FDA-approved," Wergin said. "If I prescribe you an antibiotic, I'm very confident of what's in it because of the FDA regulations on it. I don't know how to prescribe marijuana to you, or what's even in it."

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the marijuana legalization group NORML, said that at this point a reclassification by the DEA would fall "well short of the sort of federal reform necessary to reflect America's emerging reefer reality."

Armentano added that even with descheduling, federal law still would require researchers to buy pot from NIDA's University of Mississippi marijuana cultivation program.

"Simply rescheduling cannabis from I to II does not necessarily change these regulations, at least in the short-term," Armentano said.

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

How Regular Routines Will Help With Neuropathy

Today's short but useful post from (see link below) comes via other sites, from Dr. John Hayes Jr, whose work on neuropathy is always directed towards the patient and easy to understand. It talks about the importance of sticking to 'good habits and schedules' in your daily life, or at least as much as possible. People who have good routines regarding eating, exercise and treatment often do much better when it comes to neuropathy, if only because the nervous system can better deal with problems if the patient's daily life has some sort of regularity or order to it. An interesting post that makes you examine your own life to see if there's room for improvement.

Habits and Routines: Powerful Neuropathy Treatment Weapons 
Posted on May 11, 2016 Posted in Staff Pick by Staff Pick

Effective neuropathy treatment plans are easier to implement with patients who are able to keep good habits and schedules.

It is a well-known fact that our daily habits contribute more to our long-term well being than any other single activity.

What does your daily routine consist of? Are you naturally active, or does it become a challenge for you to motivate yourself? Do you make extra effort to walk more when you park your car to go shopping, for example? How about when performing household or yard tasks?

Our daily habits that affect ourselves includes things like aerobic exercise, drinking soda, tobacco usage, excessive over the counter drug usage, et cetera.

It also includes our mental activity; we have the choice to regularly have active mental stimulation such as reading and meditation, versus passive activities such as long periods of watching television.

Unfortunately, most of us never take a hard look at our daily activities, and the impact they’re having upon our health.

Now, when you’re young, these are relatively easy to ignore. But throw in advancing age, and some health challenges, and it becomes a different ballgame!

With chronic pain and neuropathy, sticking to good daily health habits becomes a much more difficult task.

But, what I can tell you after taking care of hundreds of patients is that those who have routines and habits fair far better! Both in terms of physical capacity to enjoy life, and their mental outlook!

One of the reasons for this is more effective neuropathy treatment plans are easier to implement with patients who have good habits and schedules.

You can start right now by developing then sticking to a daily routine of your own design! Scheduling and timing of daily things such as meals, light activity, supplements, and even your own self-care goes along way.

One of the reasons this is true is your body has its own biorhythms.

Timing of certain supplements, and even self-treatment throughout the day can make a BIG difference in your outcome!

And these are all things your neuropathy treatment specialist is able to assist you with.

Just make sure you engage us and ask for guidance with regard to the most effective neuropathy and chronic pain treatments and activities.

But most importantly ask and learn about the best scheduling, and timing.

Make a DAILY schedule for yourself, and then stick to it! You’ll be very glad you did!

About The Author

Dr. John Hayes, Jr. is an Evvy Award Nominee and author of “Living and Practicing by Design” and “Beating Neuropathy-Taking Misery to Miracles in Just 5 Weeks!” His work on peripheral neuropathy and chronic pain has expanded the specialty of effective neuropathy treatments to physicians, physical therapists and nurses. Do you have a powerful daily routine? Join our conversation today on BeatingNeuropathy. To book interviews and speaking engagements with Dr John Hayes Jr call 781-754-0599.

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Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Main Types Of Neuropathy

Today's short post from (see link below) looks at some of the commonest forms of neuropathy but with over 100 different types of neuropathy and over 100 causes, you'll be hard put to find an article that covers everything. Nevertheless, when people first hear that they may have neuropathy, their first instinct is to ask where it comes from and what it entails. Their doctors generally can't give an accurate answer in the beginning because there are so many possibilities and they need to be ruled out or ruled in and that takes time. This can leave patients both bewildered and alarmed and desperate for information. An article like this can be the start of your research into the disease that's giving you so many strange symptoms but it's only a start. After that you need to piece as many clues together as possible:- your own medical history, your lifestyle, your symptom range and sometimes your diet and medication patterns and then match them to the different forms of neuropathy. That may help you tie your condition closer to a particular form of nerve damage but be prepared for the long-haul. Neuropathy's like a jigsaw - the picture's only complete when the last piece is in place.

The Different Types of Neuropathy 
Posted on May 11, 2016 Posted in Staff Pick by Staff Pick

Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is a disease often associated with diabetes, although there are actually more than 100 known types of the disease – each with its own characteristic symptoms, pattern of development, and prognosis. Although there are several “tell-tale” symptoms that seem to afflict all neuropathy sufferers, each version of the disease is different and comes with its own set of problems.

Below are several of the main types of neuropathy, although this is not an exhaustive listing by any means.

DIABETIC NEUROPATHY — Over 30% of all neuropathies can be linked to diabetes, and diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy in the western world. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can lead to diabetic neuropathy – high blood sugar levels damage the nerves and neuropathy is one of the outcomes.

IMMUNE MEDIATED/CIDP — manifestations of neuropathy such as CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) is caused by an abnormal immune system response. In this condition, nerves swell and become irritated due to an immune reaction, eventually damaging the nerves outside the brain or spinal cord with peripheral neuropathy symptoms thus following.

HEREDITARY NEUROPATHY — Diseases like Charcot-Marie-Tooth have been discovered to be inherited and lead to hereditary neuropathy. This condition deals with the role of different proteins in the role of physiology in peripheral nerve conduction.

AUTONOMIC NEUROPATHY — actually a group of symptoms more than a disease itself, autonomic neuropathy concerns damage to the nerves of the body that control every-day functions in the body that are autonomic in nature, such as blood pressure, heart rate, bowel and bladder emptying, even digestion. When the nerves that control or affect these functions are disrupted, these autonomic functions cease to perform normally and can cause many complications.

— Known to laymen as a “pinched nerve,” compressive neuropathy often comes about by an accidental injury to the body. Herniated discs, sciatica, arthritis in the spine and spinal stenosis are just some of the ways a nerve can become compressed and cause pain and discomfort to an afflicted sufferer. 

DRUG-INDUCED/TOXIC NEUROPATHY –– toxic polyneuropathies come about in the human body when nerves are damaged or destroyed by chemicals introduced that have cumulative or highly-toxic effects. These tend to be occupational, chance exposures or intentional, even homicidal ingestions.

There are other forms of neuropathy, including those from infectious diseases such as shingles, as well as from nutritional deficiencies. The best bet for understanding any form of neuropathy that a person may be experiencing is to visit their doctor or a trained neurologist for a consultation.

About The Author

Brian M McLauren is an expert author in Neuropathy. To gain a better understanding of the many neuropathy causes, or if you are experiencing any neuropathy symptoms, please consult your physician.

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Friday, 20 May 2016

Is Inflammation A Chief Cause Of Chronic Pain?

Today's post from (see link below) talks about the effect of inflammation on older pain patients and this includes people living with nerve damage. The link between neuropathy, auto-immune disease and inflammation is often hinted at but rarely confirmed, yet neuropathy is very often the result of inflammation and damage to the nervous system. This article talks about the fact that older people are more prone to and more often suffer from severe inflammation, leading to more and longer lasting pain. It suggests that anti-inflammatory drugs may be the answer but these are rarely on the list of recommended medications for neuropathy patients. It's a chicken and egg question: does the pain cause the inflammation, or the inflammation cause the pain? Inflammation is more often associated with tissue damage than nerve cells but inflammation in the nervous system most definitely can cause chronic pain (ask any shingles sufferer!) An interesting article requiring more research if you're interested. It may also be worthwhile asking your neurologist whether anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac may be of benefit to you, although they do carry the potential for side-effects of their own.

Study shows pain causes older adults to develop more inflammation over a longer period of time 
Published: May 4, 2016 By: Morgan Sherburne 

When older relatives complain about their pains, show a little empathy, because new research suggests that as we age, we may all become more sensitive to pain. A small, preliminary University of Florida Health study has suggested for the first time that inflammation may occur more quickly and at a higher magnitude — and stays around longer — when older adults experience pain versus when younger adults experience pain.

This could mean that older adults could be at risk for developing chronic pain and may benefit from taking anti-inflammatories soon after an injury or procedure, according to the researchers.

Older adults often have a certain level of chronic inflammation in their bodies. But UF researchers found that when they induced pain in older adults, proteins associated with inflammation increased more than they did in younger participants and stayed in the bodies of older adults longer. The researchers also found that anti-inflammatory cytokines, proteins that soothe inflammation, peaked later for older adults than younger adults. Their results were published in a previous issue of Experimental Gerontology.

“Older people go through painful procedures more often, and we wanted to research whether this accumulation of painful procedures or more acute pain episodes that older people encounter is bad,” said Yenisel Cruz-Almeida, Ph.D., MSPH, an assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of aging and geriatric research who also is affiliated with the UF Institute on Aging. “If you have enough of those in a shorter period of time, does this predispose you to have chronic pain?”

When older adults have this kind of elevated inflammatory response, they’re more likely to have pain generated in the periphery of the body — their tissue and limbs outside of the spinal cord and brain, said the study’s senior author Joseph Riley, Ph.D., director of the pain clinical research unit in the UF Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence.

“If older adults are more likely to have these pain messages sent through the spinal cord to the brain, and the nervous system is being adapted to go through these changes, they may become more pain prone,” said Riley, also a professor in the UF College of Dentistry’s department of community dentistry and the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions’ department of clinical and health psychology.While the study does not establish whether accumulation of acute pain predisposes older adults to chronic pain, the researchers say their findings suggest this is a possibility, and it’s the first step in pain research to further understand the relationship between pain and aging. The researchers said the study’s sample size, though small, was more than adequate to demonstrate large differences between the older and younger adults they tested. The differences in inflammation within each group varied very little compared with the overall difference between the two groups, which suggests the populations they sampled were very different and there was little chance of sampling error, Riley said.

Cruz-Almeida and Riley studied eight healthy older adults, whose average age was 68, and nine healthy younger adults, whose average age was 21. None of the participants had illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension. During an initial visit, researchers induced pain in the participants in two ways, either using heat applied to the feet or a cold ice bath.

The first session determined how sensitive the participants were to pain. Determining a tolerable temperature allowed the researchers to recreate the same amount of pain for each participant in the subsequent sessions.

Participants rated their pain on a scale from 1 to 10. The researchers were aiming to induce pain to a Level 4 — a level that created the painful stimuli the researchers needed, but didn’t dissuade the participants from returning for the other visits required in the study.

With a thermode — a device that looks like a microphone with a copper tip — the UF researchers applied heat to the feet of participants in a study that tested the inflammatory response to pain of older adults versus younger adults.To study inflammation in the blood, the scientists inserted a catheter into each participant before inducing pain. That allowed them to collect the participant’s blood before the pain stimulus and then at three, 15, 30, 45, 60 and 90 minutes after the stimulus. These blood samples allowed the researchers to study inflammatory markers in the blood, finding that older adults had higher levels of inflammation when pain was induced than the younger adults.

Riley said activation of the immune system and increased inflammation are not necessarily harmful, but it’s important to understand how the length of time the immune system is activated affects the body.

“We think that the longer you have the immune system activated, having these elevated inflammatory cytokines, the more this activation can alter the homeostasis of the body. Usually an imbalance like that can be associated with autoimmune disorders, which also increase with age,” Cruz-Almeida said. “But the truth is we don’t know what the direct implications would be. We think low-grade inflammation is related to endocrine abnormalities such as diabetes and the development of heart problems. … We need to keep looking and doing future research.”

Riley said immediate implications of the research for patients could be to attack pain quickly with anti-inflammatory medication.

“Early treatment of an injury even with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories may be a good idea,” Riley said. “It’s those first few days of bombarding the central nervous system with pain signals that has a bigger effect (on the body).”
About the Author

Morgan Sherburne

Science writer for UF Health. Morgan writes about the research of faculty physicians in the College of Medicine. She joined the UF Health staff in 2014. A Michigan native, she...Read More

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Celiac, Gluten And Neuropathy

Today's short post from (see link below), with links to expand your reading, centres on a new Swedish study that shows more evidence of the link between celiac disease and neuropathy. Basically, celiac disease is gluten intolerance and as you probably know, gluten intolerance is one of those buzz-word deficiencies that dominates health forums on the internet at the moment. There has long been an assumed link between celiac and neuropathy but it has been difficult to prove and many doctors dismiss it as patient-driven sickness association (mention one and popular opinion assumes the other). One thing is sure, many people with nerve damage who cut gluten out of their diet, see an improvement in their neuropathy symptoms. That said, taking on a gluten-free diet is no mean feat and for many people proves both 'boring' and difficult to maintain. You need to do your own research, try things out and make your own mind up. A first step would be getting screened for celiac disease but you may need to convince your doctor that that is a reasonable option.

The Weird Link Between Celiac Disease and Nerve Damage
Mandy Oaklander @mandyoaklander May 12, 2015

A new study on every celiac in Sweden

Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes intestinal damage when a person eats gluten, is still something of a medical mystery. But a new Swedish study adds another piece to the puzzle.

People with celiac disease have a 2.5-fold increased risk of developing neuropathy, or nerve damage, found a new study published in JAMA Neurology. In the new nationwide study, pediatrician Dr. Jonas F. Ludvigsson, professor of clinical epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and his team wanted to look at the risk of developing neuropathy in a sample of people diagnosed with celiac disease. They gathered data from every person diagnosed with celiac disease in Sweden between 1969 and 2008—28,232 celiac sufferers in all. Each of them had been tested with a small-intestine biopsy.

(Most of them, interestingly, were women. About 60% of people with celiac disease are women; more females than males are diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, Ludvigsson says, for a reason researchers haven’t yet determined.)

For every celiac patient, Ludvigsson also found five people identical in age, sex, birth year and place of residence in Sweden as controls. He followed them for an average of 10 years to see who developed a diagnosis of neuropathy.

MORE: You Asked: Do I Have a Gluten Allergy?

The researchers found that having celiac disease was associated with a significant increased risk of developing nerve damage later. “It’s quite a high figure, compared to many other outcomes in celiac disease,” Ludvigsson says. Having a diagnosis is automatically a risk factor for getting a diagnosis for any other disease, he explains, since going to the doctor for one thing boosts the chances the doctor will find something else—a phenomenon known as surveillance bias. But the increase here is too high to merely be due to bias, he says. “There is a real association between celiac disease and neuropathy…we have precise risk estimates in a way we haven’t had before.”

Previous work has shown that in the U.S., 39% of people with celiac disease also had symptoms of neuropathy. About 1% of the population has celiac disease, and that number is similar in Sweden and the U.K.

“I think this paper could actually change clinical practice somewhat,” Ludvigsson says. When a neurologist diagnoses a patient with neuropathy but finds no obvious cause, he might consider screening that patient for celiac disease, Ludvigsson says. “Some of these patients will be diagnosed with celiac disease, will have a gluten-free diet and will actually feel better and be healthier.”

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Arm Yourself With Facts About Neuropathy

Today's post from (see link below) is another why, what and how, article about neuropathy. You know there are now dozens of these articles here on this blog but every one is slightly different and every one has the potential to teach you something new about the nerve damage you're dealing with. I strongly advise looking through a few of these general articles about neuropathy (use the search button on the right of this blog) and by doing this you'll build up a much more reliable picture of what you're going through and learn so much more about neuropathy than a doctor can tell you in the time you have with them. This particular article is plainly written, easy to absorb and importantly factually correct, without bias. Not everything will apply to your particular case but that in itself is something you need to know about this complex and confusing condition. Take what you need to know and go to your next appointment armed with enough knowledge to save time in your discussions. Doctors love patients who have done their homework but hate those who have not done it properly and have found one piece of information that doesn't apply to them, while insisting it must be true. Dealing with neuropathy has to be a partnership to get the best results.

The 5 Whats and Hows of Peripheral Neuropathy 
Posted on May 11, 2016 Posted in Staff Pick by Staff Pick

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a term which describes the damage done to peripheral nerves. This damage can be caused by more than 100 different known diseases. If only one nerve is involved it is called a mononeuropathy an example of which is carpal tunnel syndrome. If 2 or more nerves are involved in separate areas it is called a multiple mononeuropathy. This is usually the type of neuropathy meant when people say they have a peripheral neuropathy. If a spinal nerve root is involved it is called a radiculopathy such as sciatica from a herniated disc. If there is diffused involvement of the peripheral nerves it is called a polyneuropathy.

What is damaged in peripheral neuropathies?

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy occur because the nerves are damaged in some way. This can occur at either the axon, which is “wire” from the nerve cell out to the body, or it can occur in the myelin sheath itself. The myelin sheath is like an insulator around the axon which acts to speed conduction of the nerve signal. For example, an axon with myelin connects like a broadband internet connection able to stream high definition video and an axon without myelin is like dial up service, slow with frequent interruptions. Myelin involvement often occurs in the setting of demyelinating diseases or some infections.

In addition to damaging the axon or myelin or both, peripheral neuropathy can also affect a variety of nerve types. Small nerves fibers are often damaged in diseases such as diabetes which leads to problems with pain, temperature, and sensation changes. Large nerve fibers are injured in such disease processes like Guillan-Barre syndrome which leads to profound muscle weakness. Nerve fibers that come directly from the brain, called cranial nerves, can also be injured by a variety of disease processes.

The type of symptoms you experience from peripheral neuropathy depend on the underlying cause and the type and location of the nerves damaged. For causes from metabolic disorders such as diabetes, the progession is usually slow and begins in the lower extremities. A change in sensation is often the first symptom people notice. This is worse at night. It progresses from there to involve decreases in the ability to sense temperature, vibration, and eventually leads to complete sensory loss. Oddly enough this is frequently accompanied by severe pain in the affected extremity which can be brought on by even minimal stimuli. At its ends stage, peripheral neuropathy can lead to skin breakdown, balance problems, and ultimately profound muscle weakness and wasting.
What are some of the definitions of medical terms used to describe peripheral neuropathy?

The follow is a list of common definitions:

Paresthesia: this is often described as numbness or tingling or the pins and needle type sensation.
Anesthesia: this is loss of all sensation, pain, temperature, touch. If you have this you could cut off your finger and not feel it at all.
Analgesia: this is loss of all painful sensation but you can still feel things such as touch and temperature.
Hyperesthesia: this is increased sensitivity to any kind of stimulus to the skin
Hypoesthesia: this is decreased sensitivity

How is peripheral neuropathy diagnosed?

The diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy includes an evaluation by a physician. This evaluation will include a history of your symptoms, a physical exam, and in some cases diagnostic testing.

The history of your symptoms will often lead to the diagnosis and can point to or pinpoint a cause. Important items will include when the symptoms started. Did they start suddenly or gradually or has it been a long slow process developing over an extended period of time. Is there just one episode or does it come and go. Other important factors include underlying medical disorders such as cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, dietary habits, trauma, employment exposures, and family history of a similar problem.

The physical exam helps to define the extent of the neuropathy and usually involves a head to toe evaluation with particular attention on the eye and neurologic portions of the exam. During this exam it is usually evident if you have a mononeuropathy or a polyneuropathy. After the history and physical exam diagnostic testing is often undertaken. There are three main classes of diagnostic tests used to aid in the diagnosis and treatment. These are laboratory studies, imaging studies, and nerve studies.

Laboratory studies will often include a complete blood count to look for signs of anemia, heavy metal poisoning, or cancer. Electrolytes, kidney function tests, and certain vitamin levels will often be checked to evaluated causes such as kidney failure, diabetes and other endocrine disorders, and nutritional deficiencies. In some cases screening tests for rare diseases such as porphyria or infections will also be done and at times may include a skin or nerve biopsy or a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).

Imaging studies may include but are not limited to CT scans and MRI of the affected area. MRI in particular can often tell, in the right context, if your symptoms are from nerve impingement or other structural disorder.

Finally, nerve conduction studies and electromyography(EMG) is often undertaken. In nerve conduction studies a probe is used to stimulate a nerve causing an electrical impulse to fire. The way in which this impulse is transmitted can often tell your doctor if it is the axon or the myelin that is damaged. With EMG electrical activity is measure with the muscle active and at rest. This can help distinguish between nerve and muscle injury.
What kind of treatments are available for peripheral neuropathy?

The approach to treating peripheral neuropathy can be broken down into three main areas.

First, correcting the underlying cause of the neuropathy is important. Peripheral nerves, to some extent can heal and regenerate, so if the cause is found early, and treatment is initiated then the disease process can be slowed, stopped, or sometimes even reversed. For example, while diabetes can cause peripheral neuropathy, early diagnosis with tight control of your blood sugar can prevent this complication from occurring and stop or even reverse it once it has started.

Second, it is important to create on optimal environment for healing within your body. This begins with adopting a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is essential for your body to heal itself and trying to get 8 hours of sleep a night is very important. Maintaining an optimal body weight through healthy diet and exercise is also necessary. Get rid of the junk that you eat focusing on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting processed and high fat foods. This is usually enough to correct any underlying nutritional deficiencies but you may also want to consider taking a multivitamin. Finally, limit or eliminate alcohol and definitely stop tobacco in any of its forms. 

Third, it is important to control the symptoms. The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can be very difficult to control. Initial pain control with over the counter analgesics such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen is sometimes helpful but rarely sufficient. If pain is severe and chronic a variety of medications may be tried but there are no definitive guidelines give lack of evidence strongly favoring one treatment over another.

Tricyclic antidepressants. These medications are older antidepressants largely replaced now by the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). An example is amitriptyline which has been shown to be of some benefit and is thought to work by affecting the way your nerves respond to pain. 

Antiepileptics. These are seizure medications such as phenytoin, carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, lamictal, and topiramate. They have shown some benefit with the exception of topiramate. To some extent they work by blocking the ability of nerves to rapidly trigger and electrical response. 

Gabapentin. This drug is also a seizure medication but its mechanism of action is not definitively known. It is thought to help peripheral neuropathy by modulating pain signals in the the spinal cord. 

Tramadol: This is a pain medication which has been found to have some benefit beyond its ability to treat pain in helping with the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. 

Lidocaine patches: Known also as lidoderm patches these are applied directly to the site of pain and help in select cases. 

Capsaicin: A topical preparation shown to have some benefit.

Surgical intervention: In extreme cases sometimes the nerve itself will be destroyed. This often only helps the pain for a brief period of time as peripheral nerves have an astounding ability to regenerate. Unfortunately, symptoms ultimately wind up worse then before the procedure. 

What does the future hold?

As with any disease prevention is always better then treatment. There are multiple ongoing investigations into the different ways in which the nerves are damaged. As these processes are identified it is hoped that additional treatment will be found. Other research areas include looking at how the body responds to pain from neuropathy and creating or finding treatments that will block this process at either the brain or in the spinal cord.

About The Author

Dr. N. McMullin M.D. uses plant extracts, infused oils, and essential oils to make neuropathol solutions for relief from peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Autonomic Neuropathy: The Neuropathic Sniper That You Don't See Coming

Today's post from (see link below) is a no-nonsense and easy to understand article about autonomic neuropathy. For those of you who don't already know, this is nerve damage that affects many of the 'involuntary' actions that we take for granted in our daily lives, such as breathing, digestion, sexual response, blood pressure and many more. The problem with autonomic neuropathy is that it creeps up on you over a period of time and can seriously affect the quality of your life. If you're worried you may be heading in this direction, or already know what's happening, read the article, talk to your doctor and do as much of your own research as possible. By using the search button to the right of this blog, you will find many more articles about autonomic neuropathy and how best to learn to live with it and treat its symptoms.

When Neuropathy Affects Bodily Functions 
Posted on May 11, 2016 Posted in Staff Pick by Staff Pick

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

Dizziness and fainting when you stand up
Difficulty digesting food and feeling really full when you’ve barely eaten anything
Abnormal perspiration – either sweating excessively or barely at all
Intolerance for exercise – no, not that you just hate it but your heart rate doesn’t adjust as it should
Slow pupil reaction so that your eyes don’t adjust quickly to changes in light
Urinary problems like difficulty starting or inability to completely empty your bladder

If they do, you could have autonomic neuropathy. Especially if you have diabetes, your immune system is compromised by chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, lupus, Guillian-Barre or any other chronic medical condition.

You need to see a doctor immediately. A good place to start would be a physician well versed in diagnosing and treating nerve disease and damage, like your local clinician who specializes in our treatment protocol.

What Is Autonomic Neuropathy?

Autonomic neuropathy in itself is not a disease. It’s a type of peripheral neuropathy that affects the nerves that control involuntary body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and perspiration. The nerves are damaged and don’t function properly leading to a break down of the signals between the brain and the parts of the body affected by the autonomic nervous system like the heart, blood vessels, digestive system and sweat glands.

That can lead to your body being unable to regulate your heart rate or your blood pressure, an inability to properly digest your food, urinary problems, even being unable to sweat in order to cool your body down when you exercise.

Often, autonomic neuropathy is caused by other diseases or medical conditions so if you suffer from:

Systemic lupus
Parkinson’s disease

Or any number of other chronic illnesses, you stand a much higher risk of developing autonomic neuropathy. Your best course of action is not to wait until you develop symptoms. Begin a course of preventative treatment and monitoring with a clinician to lessen your chances of developing autonomic neuropathy.

How Will The Clinician Diagnose My Autonomic Neuropathy?

If you have diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDs or any of the other diseases or chronic conditions that can cause autonomic neuropathy, it’s much easier to diagnose autonomic neuropathy. After all, as a specialist in nerve damage and treatment, your clinician is very familiar with your symptoms and the best course of treatment.

If you have symptoms of autonomic neuropathy and don’t have any of the underlying conditions, your diagnosis will be a little tougher but not impossible.

Either way, your clinician will take a very thorough history and physical. Make sure you have a list of all your symptoms, when they began, how severe they are, what helps your symptoms or makes them worse, and any and all medications your currently take (including over the counter medications, herbal supplements or vitamins).

Be honest with your clinician about your diet, alcohol intake, frequency of exercise, history of drug use and smoking. If you don’t tell the truth, you’re not giving your clinician a clear picture of your physical condition. That’s like asking him to drive you from Montreal to Mexico City without a map or a GPS. You may eventually get to where you want to be, but it’s highly unlikely.

Once your history and physical are completed, your clinician will order some tests. Depending upon your actual symptoms and which systems seem to be affected, these tests might include: 

Urinalysis and bladder function tests
Thermoregulatory and/or QSART sweat tests
Gastrointestinal tests
Breathing tests
Tilt-table tests (to test your heart rate and blood pressure regulation). Once your tests are completed and your clinician determines you have autonomic neuropathy, it’s time for treatment. 

Treatment and Prognosis

Our clinicians are well versed in treating all types of peripheral neuropathy, including autonomic neuropathy. They adhere to a very specialized treatment protocol that was developed specifically for patients suffering from neuropathy. That’s why their treatments have been so successful – neuropathy in all its forms is what they do.

Autonomic neuropathy is a chronic condition but it can be treated and you can do things to help relieve your symptoms.

Your clinician will work with you and your other physicians to treat your neuropathy and manage your underlying condition. They do this through:

Diet Planning and Nutritional Support

You need to give your body the nutrition it needs to heal.

If you have gastrointestinal issues caused by autonomic neuropathy, you need to make sure you’re getting enough fiber and fluids to help your body function properly.

If you have diabetes, you need to follow a diet specifically designed for diabetics and to control your blood sugar.

If your autonomic neuropathy affects your urinary system, you need to retrain your bladder. You can do this by following a schedule of when to drink and when to empty your bladder to slowly increase your bladder’s capacity.

Individually Designed Exercise Programs

If you experience exercise intolerance or blood pressure problems resulting from autonomic neuropathy, you have to be every careful with your exercise program. Make sure that you don’t overexert yourself, take it slowly. Your clinician can design an exercise program specifically for you that will allow you to exercise but won’t push you beyond what your body is capable of. And, even more importantly, they will continually monitor your progress and adjust your program as needed.

Lifestyle Modifications

If your autonomic neuropathy causes dizziness when you stand up, then do it slowly and in stages. Flex your feet or grip your hands several times before you attempt to stand to increase the flow of blood to your hands and feet. Try just sitting on the side of your bed in the morning for a few minutes before you try to stand.

Change the amount and frequency of your meals if you have digestive problems.

Don’t try to do everything all at once. Decide what really needs to be done each day and do what you can. Autonomic neuropathy is a chronic disorder and living with any chronic condition requires adaptations. Your clinician knows this all too well and will work with you to manage your level of stress and change your daily routines to help you manage your condition and your life.

All of these changes in conjunction with medications, where needed, will make it easier to live with autonomic neuropathy and lessen the chances of serious complications. Early intervention with a NeuropathyDR® clinician is still the best policy if you have any of the underlying conditions that can cause autonomic neuropathy. But if you already have symptoms, start treatment immediately.

About The Author

Dr. John Hayes, Jr. is an Evvy Award Nominee and author of “Living and Practicing by Design” and “Beating Neuropathy-Taking Misery to Miracles in Just 5 Weeks!”. His work on peripheral neuropathy has expanded the specialty of effective neuropathy treatments to physicians, physical therapists and nurses. A free Ebook, CD and information packet on his unique services and trainings can be obtained by registering your information at

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Monday, 16 May 2016

Why Is Nerve Pain So Different?

Today's post from (see link below) is a useful addition to your knowledge about neuropathic pain. Because of the nature of neuropathy, you can easily become confused as to what makes the pain so unique to nerve damage. This article shows why it's different to other sorts of pain and helps you understand what's happening to cause it. One thing is sure, you've never experienced symptoms like it but explaining that to other people is sometimes difficult. Worth a quick read.

What makes neuropathic pain different from other pain?
Written by: Joanne Zeis Published: Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Reviewed by: Kevin L. Zacharoff, MD, December 2015

Amy is usually a multi-tasking whiz, but one day her multi-tasking talents let her down.

While Amy was stirring soup on the stove with a metal spoon, she decided to rinse off one of her hands. She turned on the water faucet with one hand and kept stirring with the other – and got a strong electrical shock when her fingers touched the water. It was totally unexpected, and very painful!

Amy and her husband spent the next hour trying to find out what was wrong with the faucet…or maybe it was the stove instead? It wasn’t until Amy went into the garage the next day that she found the reason for her shock: A water pipe was leaking onto the electrical circuit breakers for the house.

Who would have thought that a problem in the kitchen was actually caused by trouble in a different part of the house?

Neuropathic pain is like that

If you get a paper cut, it’s pretty clear where you’ve been wounded: You feel pain in the finger that was cut. After a few days, the finger heals and the pain is gone. But neuropathic pain is like Amy’s shocking stove situation instead: The problem is caused by something that you can’t see, and may be far away from where you’d expect.

Let’s take a closer look.

The two main types of pain

Your nerves are like electric wires; they help messages go back and forth from your body to your brain. Pain messages are a big part of the “talk” that travels through your nervous system. Normal pain that’s caused by an injury and is felt by your nerves is called nociceptive (no- see- sep- tiv) pain. Once the injury gets better, this pain goes away.

But with neuropathic (nerve) pain, the injury isn’t always something that can be seen with your eyes. The nerve itself is injured or malfunctioning, and starts sending wrong pain messages to your brain. What happens next? Sometimes, you’re in pain for no identifiable reason, and this pain may last for months or years.

Examples of neuropathic pain that may happen when nerves are damaged or malfunctioning are:


Multiple sclerosis



An amputated limb (phantom limb pain)

Cancer treatments

Unknown reasons

As unfair as it seems, it's also possible for people to have both nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain at the same time.
Just the facts

Around 15 million people in the U.S. and Europe suffer from neuropathic pain.

 Experts know that:

Neuropathic pain may sometimes be hard to diagnose

It can be caused by many different illnesses

It can sometimes be hard to treat by using common pain-relieving medicines

It can cause many different types of painful feelings, such as tingling, burning, and “pins and needles” sensations

It has the ability to turn your life upside down: It may be difficult to sleep, work, or even carry out simple household tasks
What can help?

Speak with a doctor about your neuropathic pain and some ways to treat it. You don’t have to suffer in silence. You might be sent to a pain clinic to learn about new medications that are just for nerve pain. Other good options include finding new ways to relax, and trying not to set goals that are unreasonable.

Give it a try: Work together with your healthcare provider to find some effective ways to lower your pain.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

FDA Public Neuropathy Meeting: An Invitation

Today's post from (see link below) is a chance for you all to have your say about neuropathy at a meeting sponsored by the FDA itself. As you probably know, the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is probably the most influential official medical body in the world and has control over which drugs you may eventually be prescribed and why. You can physically attend (see details and address below) but more importantly for visitors to this blog, you can attend digitally (via a live webcast), which means that your voice from wherever in the world, can be heard. This sort of opportunity is pretty rare but one you should maybe consider. Neuropathy patient statistics across the world are astronomical, so every chance we get to provide some input will both help raise awareness and be an interesting learning experience too. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

A Chance to be Heard!: Public Meeting on Pain Associated with Peripheral Neuropathy sponsored by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 
April 10, 2016

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA invites you (patients, caregivers and family members) to an upcoming public meeting on neuropathic pain associated with peripheral neuropathy to be held on June 10, 2016 from 1pm-5pm (EDT) at the FDA Campus in Silver Spring, Maryland (or you may attend virtually!). Specific details are outlined below.

The purpose of the meeting is to gather patients’ perspectives on symptoms and daily impacts that matter most to them, and to discuss available approaches for treating neuropathic pain associated with peripheral neuropathy.

This meeting is an exciting opportunity for patients to bring their voice to FDA and the drug development process.

You may participate in person OR through a live webcast. FDA needs your help to make this meeting a success. Please follow the links below to register, explore the discussion questions and meeting format, and find more information on FDA’s Patient-Focused-Drug Development initiative.

Meeting website:

If you are attending in person, below you will find an attachment with a list of hotels near the FDA campus and a map to help you find your way around.

The meeting format maximizes patient participation. For each discussion topic, a small panel of patients or caretakers will provide brief comments to start the dialogue. The panel comments will be followed by a facilitated discussion with other patients and patient representatives in the audience. Patients or caregivers who would like to be considered to be on the opening panel can indicate that as part of registration. They will be asked to send a short summary of their responses to the discussion questions (posted on their registration site) to

This is an exciting opportunity to share your experiences living with PN. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact them at

FPN Patient Survey

Even if you can’t participate in the meeting yourself, there is another way to make your voice heard! Pam Shlemon, Executive Director for the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy will be attending the meeting in person. We would like to send her with current information from patients like you about what it is like to live with peripheral neuropathy. Please complete a very brief survey sharing your experiences and she will present this information at the meeting.

 Click here to complete the survey

Hotels, Campus Map and FDA announcement:

Hotels by the FDA White Oak Campus

White Oak Campus map

Official Flyer/Announcement from the FDA