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Diabetic neuropathy is a symptom that many people with either Type I or Type II diabetes will face. In fact, roughly half of all diabetics will develop nerve damage causing symptoms. Diabetic neuropathy results as a consequence of damage to nerves caused by periods of high blood sugar. The high blood sugar results in the formation of advanced glycosylated end products (AGEs), which physically damage the nerves. The high blood sugar also decreases circulation, which results in poor healing and recovery in nerves.

Diabetic neuropathy can affect any nerve in the body. It most commonly affects nerves in the periphery of the body first like in the hands, fingers, feet, and toes. However, it also commonly affects nerves in the abdominal organs like the intestines, kidney, and liver. The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy largely depend on the nerves affected by the condition. For example, nerve damage to sensory nerves in the foot typically cause numbness and tingling in the foot and toes. Whereas, nerve damage in the intestines may cause nausea, constipation, diarrhea, or feeling full after relatively small amounts of food.

The diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy typically results from the presence of signs and symptoms of nerve damage for those who also have diabetes. The symptoms may include numbness, tingling, burning pain, indigestion, heartburn, feeling full after small meals, sporadic blood pressure readings, dizziness, and erectile dysfunction, The diagnosis may also be based on tests like reflex testing, nerve conduction velocity testing, or electromyogram.

Just about every physician agrees that the most important treatment for diabetic neuropathy is keeping your blood sugar in a stable and healthy range. This helps prevent further damage to the nerves. Therefore, optimal dietary habits are of the utmost importance. However, what can you do once the nerves have been damaged? Is there a way to regenerate nerves?

Unfortunately, the conventional approach to treating revolves around managing symptoms with medications as opposed to focusing on treatments that may regenerate damaged nerves. Medications like Lyrica, antidepressants, narcotics, and NSAIDs are often prescribed to treat pain caused by diabetic neuropathy. Often other medications are prescribed to deal with the other symptoms. For example, Viagra may be prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction.

Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid (IV ALA) and Diabetic Neuropathy

Fortunately, there is a treatment that can help regenerate nerves that have been damaged by the processes of diabetic neuropathy. Alpha lipoic acid is an amino acid that can be used intravenously to regenerate nerves. You may recognize alpha lipoic acid from your multivitamin or antioxidant supplement. In recent years it has shown to be a very valuable antioxidant nutrient and has many benefits in the body by reducing oxidative stress. However, it can be used intravenously for the purpose of nerve regeneration to treat diabetic neuropathy.

Several clinical trials have shown intravenous alpha lipoic acid (IV ALA) to have a significant regenerative capacity to nerves affected by diabetic neuropathy. Many studies show IV ALA to have both a short term and long term positive outcome with a variety symptoms resulting from diabetic neuropathy.

I typically use intravenous alpha lipoic acid in dosages of 600–1800 mg 1–3 times per week for 10–20 sessions and then decrease the frequency according to the patient’s response. Many naturopathic physicians and medical doctors in North America are licensed and trained to use IV ALA to treat diabetic neuropathy. If you are suffering from the consequences of diabetic neuropathy I would encourage you to discuss your case with a physician who offers IV ALA to see if you may be benefit treatment.

Dr. Brent Barlow

Dr. Brent Barlow is a naturopathic physician and author of the book series, To Feel Well. The first book in the series is now available. Click Here for more information or to purchase Improve Your Digestive System. He is an expert in the field of integrative and holistic healthcare and has a special interest in treating cardiovascular, hormonal, inflammatory, and digestive system disorders. He is board certified to utilize advanced integrative procedures like intravenous nutrient infusions, prolotherapy, neural therapy, and hormone prescription. Dr. Barlow is a graduate of the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver and practices in Kelowna, British Columbia.