Neuropathy

  • By Healthy Living Liberty Lake
  • 09 Aug, 2016
If you have ever had painful burning and tingling in your feet, a feeling of walking on pins and needles all the time, then you know how agonizing neuropathy can be. As it progresses, it can even cause muscle weakness and stumbling. The condition is caused by damage to the nerve endings, causing them to "short-circuit". What causes this damage?

By far the most common reason is diabetes. However, other causes include:
  • Alcoholism
  • B vitamin deficiencies
  • Medications, especially chemotherapy
  • Chronic infections such as hepatitis C, HIV, and Lymes
  • Trauma that can sever a nerve
  • Kidney disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heavy metals
  • Surgery to the lumbar/ sacral spine, or low back

If your neuropathy is caused by diabetes, you must first get control of the blood sugars. This includes a lower carbohydrate diet, exercise, supplements such as berberine, and medications when needed. The exact connection between blood sugar control and the development and severity of diabetic neuropathy is not fully understood. I have seen type 2 diabetcis that appear to have good blood sugar readings, but will have classic neuropathy signs and symptoms.

B12 deficiency must be ruled out. Remember, metformin, the most common oral drug used to treat diabetes, causes a B12 deficiency, and this alone can precipitate neuropathy. I always give a B12 shot to see if it has any effect. Just 2 weeks ago a patient came in complaining of the acute onset of constant numbness and tingling in her hands and feet; while I pursued her work-up, I gave her a B12 shot, and by the next day her symptoms resolved! She will now be getting B12 regularly.

But if your neuropathy is not caused by something so easily remedied, how do we treat?

Treatment can be difficult. Pain meds, such as opiates, do not work well, and of course have the risk of addiction. There are specific meds used for nerve pain, which include gabapentin and lyrica, the 2 most commonly prescribed meds with the lowest frequency of side effects. Other treatments included acupuncture, TENS, spinal cord stimulation, massage therapy, and even surgery. There are also various topical creams that can be made by compounding pharmacists that have been effective. One such formula contains ketoprofen, amitriptyline, gabapentin and lidocaine.

I also use supplements to help reduce pain and regenerate nerves. I will often use supplements in combination with meds. By far the top 5 supplements for diabetic neuropathy are:
Acetyl-L-carnitine; alpha-lipoic acid; B12; magnesium; and benfotiamine - an activated form of thiamine, methyl-folate and CoQ10.  
The research on each of these nutrients is extensive, and I used to give each of these individually to patients with neuropathy. But now there is a formulation that has all of them in one supplement, and I highly recommend it to these patients: RevitalAge Nerve. It's made by Pure Encapsulations, is pharmaceutical grade, and very well absorbed. Also have your doctor give you regular B12 shots (you can't overdose) to optimize your further optimize your levels.  

The combination of reducing blood sugar levels, taking RevitalAge Nerve and using a prescription cream formulated by compounding pharmacists have given the best pain relief for my patients.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 18 Jul, 2017
We've all heard the advice to drink more water. 8 glasses a day, to be precise. Whether you're thirsty or not, it's good for you. I've always doubted this advice since it had no sound reasoning behind it, other than "detoxification". But now, a new study done by the University of Melbourne casts doubt on this advise.

Many who advocate drinking eight glasses or more of water daily are not aware of the potentially fatal side effect of water intoxication.  We are fortunate in that we have a mechanism to regulate fluid intake to keep us from over-drinking. The study showed for the first time that the brain activates a "swallowing inhibition" when excess liquid is consumed.
Participants in the study had to rate the amount of effort that was required to swallow water following exercise when they were thirsty, and then later when they were persuaded to drink an excessive amount of water. There was a 3-fold increase in the swallowing effort after over-drinking, which validated that the swallowing reflex is inhibited when enough water has been consumed.

MRI was used to record the activity in different areas of the brain involved with swallowing. The prefrontal areas made more active when the participants attempted to swallow with a great effort, meaning that the frontal cortex steps in to override the swallowing inhibition, in order to avoid water intoxication.  

Intoxication occurs when levels of sodium in the blood become abnormally low, which can cause symptoms of lethargy, confusion, nausea, convulsions and coma. In my 25 years of practice, I've had 2 patients die from excessively drinking water, causing sodium to be very low, which caused brain swelling. There have even been incidences where athletes in marathons were advised to fill up with water and then died, because they followed those incorrect recommendations and drank far in access of their actual need.

The researchers advocated doing what our bodies demand, stating that we should just drink according to our thirst, not a deliberate schedule.  We should trust in our "swallowing inhibition" that the brain activates if excess liquid is consumed.  The  brain helps maintain tightly calibrated volumes of water in our bodies. Do drink when you're thirsty. And remember on hot summer days, like we have now, you'll need to drink more to stay hydrated. Even more so with exercise.  

But don't drink water just b/c someone told you should drink at least 8 glasses a day .   Drink when you're thirsty, and you'll be fine.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 07 Jul, 2017
Everyone's ideas of happiness is different, but there is one thing we all have in common.  Serotonin- the critical neurotransmitter needed to boost mood.  People with low serotonin levels are often depressed, pessimistic, and generally not pleasant to be around.  Serotonin is called the "happy hormone", but also has other health benefits which make us healthy at the same time.

10 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Serotonin Levels:

1. Eat animal protein.  An amino acid called tryptophan helps produce serotonin, and animal protein is the best source. Tryptophan is especially high in chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beef and dairy. Whey and egg protein are scientifically proven to increase this amino acid in the brain.
2. Sunshine - natural light has a positive effect on mood, and triggers serotonin synthesis.  The brighter the sunlight, the more serotonin the body produces.  This could explain feeling down in the winter or on rainy dark days.
3. Vitamin D - helps convert tryptophan into serotonin.   Here, we need to supplement as we rarely get enough UV rays  to make enough.  You'll typically need between 2000 IU - 10,000 IU daily.
4. Omega 3's - help boost serotonin production in the brain.   Need 2000-4000mg daily.
5. Eat Curry - curry has turmeric, which is considered a potent anti-depressant.   Helps to increase serotonin in the brain, while reducing inflammation.
6.Caffeine - this has a positive effect on levels of serotonin in the brain, which is good news for most of us.   Don't overdo, however.
7. Exercise - has been shown to increase serotonin levels because motor neurons activated during physical activity boost the release of serotonin.  Regular exercise will spike tryptophan levels in the brain.
8. Massage - proven to reduce cortisol and increase happy hormones by as much as 28%.  Plus it feels great.
9. Nuts - contain tryptophan, so the more you eat, the happier you'll be.  They also have numerous other health benefits, such as decreasing inflammation, helping to prevent heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments.
10. Green tea - contains L-theanine, an amino acid that boosts serotonin levels.   It also has a powerful antioxidant that prevents brain damage.

There you go, this is a good place to start, especially if you've been feeling down lately.   B vitamins may also help, but if none of this is enough, then see your doctor.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 14 Jun, 2017
Have you ever heard of Hashimoto's?  It's a common cause of low thyroid, or hypothyroidism. It's an auto-immune disease, which means the body is making antibodies against the thyroid and destroying it.

To diagnose, a blood test for thyroid antibodies must be done. Like all auto-immune diseases, it is much more common in women than men.
With Hashimoto's, blood levels often show an elevated TSH, and a low T3.  T3 is the active form of thyroid, and when the Free T3 is less than 3, expect fatigue as a common complaint.  

The conventional treatment of Hashimoto's is to prescribe a synthetic T4 , such as synthroid or levothyroxine.  This is not optimal, however, as often the T3 remains low.  And, in a review of patients on levothyroxine, long-term use was related to cardiac dysfunction, left ventricular hypertrophy (or heart failure) and rapid bone loss. Therefore, I typically will prescribe a T3/T4 combination, such as Armour or Nature Thyroid.
However, the goal is to reduce the antibody levels. To do this I recommend a supplement such as Thyrotrophin PMG made by Standard Process.   It must be taken three times a day and can act as a decoy, allowing the antibodies to attack it rather than the thyroid itself.
Now there is another option which has great promise.

Researchers looked at 40 men and women with Hashimoto's.  Half got placebo, and half got black cumin seed for 8 weeks.  Levels of T3, TSH and thyroid antibodies were measured before and after, and also the person's body composition.
What did they find?  "treatment with black cumin seed significantly reduced body weight and BMI. TSH and thyroid antibodies decreased, while T3 levels increased in those taking black cumin.  Those on placebo had no difference in their levels."

Every single measurement of Hashimotot's disease improved with this herb!  TSH improved 50%.  T3 levels improved 15%.  And antibodies decreased 50%.  All without side effects.

You can buy black cumin at any health food store or online - if you have Hashimoto's, give this a try.  
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