Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition where a part of the body, usually hands or feet, are tingling, burning or painful. It can range in intensity from annoying and just feeling like you’re wearing a glove or sock, when you aren’t, to very painful and effecting many aspects of your life.
There are 3 types of neuropathy: Sensory, Motor, and Autonomic. In addition to the hands and feet (toes and fingers), it can involve not just the Central Nervous System, but the Integumentary System (skin and nails), the Musculoskeletal System, the Gastrointestinal System (primarily the colon and liver), the Renal System (kidneys and bladder) – but also kidney failure can cause neuropathy, Hematologic System (anemia or pancytopenia), and/or the Cardiovascular System.
This condition can be limited to one area, or involve different areas or different systems, depending on the cause. The causes are key if you want to eliminate this problem.
There are a few known causes, but there may also be others. First is nutritional imbalances. Vitamin B12 deficiency has had the most research. It can either be a dietary limitation issue or an absorption issue. B12 deficiency can also be due to excess alcohol or sugar consumption. B6 is also key, but in many cases of neuropathy, it is an excess of B6 usually due to synthetic supplement intake. Niacin and B1/Thiamine deficiencies are triggers as well. Vitamin E deficiency or excess can contribute (deficiency can be from lack of healthy fats in the diet or malabsorption issues; excess is usually due to synthetic Vitamin E supplementation). Copper excess or deficiency which is often secondary to an excess of zinc supplementation.
The second cause can be “Toxic Neuropathies”. Several medication categories can contribute to neuropathies. Chemo therapy is one of the biggest. There are quite a few that have side effects of neuropathy.
Alcohol is also considered a cause of toxic neuropathies due to the detrimental effect on the Central Nervous System and the contribution to Vitamin B deficiency. Byproducts in the body that accumulate because of renal failure, heavy metals (especially lead, arsenic and mercury common in the water or industrial products), organophosphates (found in insecticides) can all be toxic causes.
Infectious causes include consumption of “toxic seafood” (after they consumed a toxic form of plankton), and ticks. Not only can ticks cause Lyme Disease, but 3 species also contain a neuro-toxin that can lead to neuropathy. Diabetes is one of the most common causes of neuropathy and managing that can be crucial in circumventing or treating diabetic neuropathy.
If you are suffering from neuropathy, the first thing you need to do is see a practitioner that will dig deep to find the underlying cause of your neuropathy. Then, using acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional recommendation and supplements targeted specifically to you and your condition, you can expect to see good results. The sooner you begin treatments the better. You want to catch this disease before permanent nerve damage has been done. There is hope.
©2022 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.