Diabetes can come with a wide variety of symptoms and complications, especially if not properly treated. One of those issues is diabetic nerve pain, also known as diabetic neuropathy, which can cause substantial discomfort and distress to the roughly 50 percent of people with diabetes who have it.
Diabetic neuropathy occurs when prolonged high blood sugar damages and hardens the blood vessels, limiting blood flow to certain types of nerves. The lack of blood flow damages the nerves and can result in numbness, pain, tingling, and other related symptoms. This complication can also affect the digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels, and heart.
For some, the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are fairly mild and painless. For others, however, the pain can be severe and debilitating. Luckily, however, new treatments are being invented all the time. The latest of these is a simple daily supplement regime that should be fairly inexpensive and easy for most people.
The specific supplement combination is Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALC), and vitamin B12. This mixture of supplements can help improve diabetic nerve damage symptoms, according to an 18-month study of 85 diabetes patients.
SOD and ALA function as antioxidants by preventing the formation of free radicals and removing free-radical buildup respectively. ALC is believed to have neurotrophic properties, and B12 supplements low levels of the vitamin typically found in patients with diabetes, especially those treated with metformin.
The four supplements appear to work synergistically, making them more effective as a group than any of them would have been on their own.
Article continues below
Our Featured Programs
See how we’re making a difference for People, Pets, and the Planet and how you can get involved!
Researchers chose these four supplements for their placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study and combined them into a single daily-dose pill. They gave this pill to their study participants, who all have type 2 diabetes and neuropathy and have been treated with metformin for at least four years. Participants took the supplement (or a placebo) for 12 months.
Researchers then used the Michigan Neuropathy Screening Instrument Questionnaire and Examination (MNSIQ and MNSIE) and Cardiovascular Autonomic Reflex Tests (CART) to measure the threshold of vibration perception among participants. Sural nerve conduction velocity and amplitude, pain, and quality of life were also measured via tests and questionnaires.
Those patients who took the supplement for 12 months improved in all the measurements, while pain conditions continued to deteriorate for the placebo group.
The study has its limitations, and results will need to be corroborated in larger trials going forward. However, this combination could be a key to decreasing diabetic nerve pain for so many people in the future!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?