Neuropathy – A Review of Natural Treatments and Drug Risk Factors

Lyme Disease and Neuropathy

Lyme disease is rarely considered as a cause of neuropathy. In some older studies, there are reports of chronic distal symmetric sensory neuropathy in patients who were properly treated with antibiotics during the acute stage. However, more recent literature expresses skepticism about these reports.64 On the other hand, there are numerous anecdotes from clinicians expressing an association that may not yet be reflected in journals. We recognize that chronic Lyme disease (CLD) following standard antibiotic treatment is a controversial diagnosis, with some believing it is rare or even non-existent, and some believing it is common. Although we will not review this topic until a later date, our opinion is that the evidence does show that CLD can develop following standard antibiotic treatment. Controversial instances aside, a diagnosis of acute Lyme needs to be considered in neuropathy that onsets suddenly.

Summary and Remarks

Natural medicines such as alpha-lipoic acid, coQ10, acetyl-L-carnitine, magnesium, and others have a place in the treatment of neuropathy. Results indicated in some studies might potentially be surpassed after longer treatment durations. Also, using such supplements in combination is a promising avenue that needs to be further researched. The relative lack of side effects of several of these supplements may be favorable when compared to drugs like gabapentin where 66% of patients experience at least one adverse event.65 Also, in some instances the improvements in symptoms are likely due to permanent healing of nerve damage. Hence such supplements might be able to gradually reduce the needed dose of concurrent drugs. It may also be sensible to take supplements preventatively, especially if one is taking the previously discussed drugs that put one at increased risk of neuropathy. Every effort should be made to address modifiable risk factors such as smoking. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that we have seen a combination of neuropathy supplements greatly benefit a chronic spinal cord injury patient who experienced improvements in mobility, coordination, and energy, but no improvements in neuropathic pain.

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