Amino acid therapy involves the therapeutic use of specific amino acids and cofactors to help reestablish proper neurotransmitter function. Amino acid therapy is commonly used to help with symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, insomnia, migraines, compulsive behaviors, trichotillomania, addictions, restless legs and even Parkinson’s disease.
However, one of the other common, but lesser known uses of amino acid therapy is in the management of chronic pain. We often use amino acid therapy to help people with chronic pain and fibromyalgia reestablish proper neurotransmitter signaling which can help improve their pain tolerance and lessen pain throughout the body.
On occasion, we are asked if amino acid therapy can be useful in other cases like diabetic nerve pain and/or peripheral neuropathy due to other causes, including chemotherapy or sciatica. There isn’t much data on the use of amino acid therapy for these conditions, but amino acid therapy may help along with some other tried-and-true nutritional therapies to help relieve diabetic nerve pain and/or neuropathy.
Amino Acid Therapy and Diabetic Nerve Pain
By helping to establish proper neurotransmitter function, amino acid therapy may help relieve diabetic nerve pain. In these cases, the person is likely serotonin-dominant; that is to say, they likely need much more support for the serotonin system than for the catecholamine (dopamine) system, as chronic pain is known to deplete the body of serotonin over time. Incidentally, this is also why it is almost guaranteed that a person with chronic pain will eventually develop other serotonin-dominant conditions, including depression, insomnia, inability to concentrate, anxiety and/or headaches.
In addition, there are a number of nutritional therapies that have been shown to be effective with diabetic nerve pain and peripheral neuropathy. One of the most studied is alpha-lipoic acid.
Alpha lipoic acid is a unique antioxidant in that it is both water and fat soluble; it can also regenerate other antioxidants within the human body, making it extremely versatile. Alpha lipoic acid has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, improve neuropathy and diabetic nerve pain as well as prevent oxidative (free-radical) damage in the body. Typical dosing is 600-1200 mg/day.
Vitamin D3 is another nutrient that may be of great help in relieving diabetic nerve pain and/or neuropathy. Research has shown that vitamin D3 supplementation can cut nerve pain for diabetic neuropathy almost in half, leading researches to suggest that “vitamin D could be used as an effective pain killer for this condition”. Dosing should be based on testing, with a goal of achieving blood levels of vitamin D3 of about 80 ng/ml.
Lastly, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) has been shown to be effective as an anti-inflammatory and in reducing low-back pain and sciatica as well as to help reduce pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. In fact, in the case of sciatica, researchers have stated that there is “no clear evidence that surgery is more beneficial than conservative treatment in the form of supplementation plus rehabilitation”. Typical dosing ranges from 240-480 mg/day.
Natural Approaches Can Help Relieve Diabetic Nerve Pain
Anyone suffering from diabetic nerve pain, peripheral neuropathy and/or sciatica needs help to get their pain under control ASAP; luckily, there are several natural approaches – including amino acid therapy, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin D3 and gamma-linolenic acid – that can help relieve the pain and suffering associated with these conditions. Be sure and consult with your physician and/or health care provider before taking any of these supplements, especially if you are taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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