bout seven years ago, I switched from an insurance-based practice treating solely musculoskeletal conditions to an all-cash practice treating some musculoskeletal conditions as well as a lot of additional conditions like obesity, diabetes, fibromyalgia and candida. During my first 20 years of practice, when a patient came in with serious neuropathy in their feet or hands, I was not able to give them complete relief. In fact, I felt like I needed to refer them out to another physician. However, in 2009 everything changed when Nan, a 58-year-old patient, entered my office.
Nan was a size 4X and needed to lose a lot of weight. Nan explained that she had noticed a weight-loss advertisement for my clinic, so she came to my office to lose weight. The reason Nan wanted to lose weight was because she was scheduled to have one of her legs amputated due to her terrible neuropathy. Nan feared that since she was so overweight, she would not be able to walk on the new prosthetic leg she would receive after her amputation. Her goal was simple: She wanted to lose enough weight to be able to easily adjust to her new prosthetic leg.
The way I handle weight loss in my office is to focus on healing the body. I tell patients that they will lose weight, but the real goal is to get their bodies healthy. I help them with a healthy diet plan, pure supplementation, some therapies to address cellulite and emotional eating, and a whole lot of one-on-one attention and support.
After a few months on the weight-loss program, not only had Nan lost about 55 pounds, but also her legs had healed to the point that her medical doctor cancelled the amputation surgery. Now, several years later, Nan has continued to feel the positive effects of her improved lifestyle changes. She has been able to stop taking 14 medications, keep both of her legs and no longer suffers from neuropathy. And, not surprisingly, Nan has referred many patients to our office.
After seeing Nan’s amazing results, I decided it was time to start treating more patients for neuropathy. The results have been amazing. Before treating Nan for weight loss, it had never occurred to me to treat neuropathy patients with a change of diet and pure nutritional supplementation. However, after seeing improvements in Nan and hundreds of other neuropathy patients, I am sold on the idea that the body really can heal itself given the proper environment.
Most chiropractors are well versed in neuropathy, but in case you have forgotten what you learned in school, let us review.
What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy essentially means an abnormal and degenerative condition of the nervous system.
Neuropathy may be diffuse, affecting many parts of the body, or it can be focal, affecting a single, specific nerve and part of the body.
The two categories of diffuse neuropathy are peripheral neuropathy, affecting the hands and feet, and autonomic neuropathy, affecting the internal organs.
This is the most common type of neuropathy, damaging the nerves of the limbs—especially the feet—and affecting both sides of the body. Common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are:
- Numbness or insensitivity to pain or temperature
- Tingling, burning or prickling sensations
- Sharp pains or cramps (or like walking on sponges)
- Extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch
- Loss of balance and coordination
Most of these symptoms are often worse at night.
Autonomic Neuropathy (also called visceral neuropathy):
This is another form of diffuse neuropathy. It affects the nerves that serve the heart and internal organs. Neuropathy affecting the organs via nerve damage can lead to:
- Urinary incontinence
- Lack of sexual function
- Digestion issues (the stomach emptying slowly, bloating, persistent nausea and vomiting)
- Lower bowel problems (constipation, diarrhea)
- The cardiovascular system (which controls the circulation throughout the body)
Damage to the cardiovascular system affects the signal for the blood in regulating blood pressure and heart rate. As a result, one can feel dizzy upon standing (orthostatic hypotension). This type of neuropathy also affects the system in the perception of pain from heart disease. People may not experience angina as a warning sign of heart disease and may suffer painless heart attacks. Damage can also lead to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. This condition makes it difficult to recognize and treat an insulin reaction.
Uncontrolled diabetes (even on medication) results from a poor diet, lack of exercise and unstable sugar levels. This can lead to conditions such as neuropathy, affecting the whole body and potentially leading to amputations. Unstable glucose levels (e.g., high blood sugar due to poor diet) harm nerves and blood vessels. This affects circulation, especially in the peripheral area of the body such as the limbs. Poor circulation can lead to diabetic neuropathy where damaged nerve fibers cause numbness. When limbs are numb, there is a greater risk of injury and/or infection due to decreased sensations in the limb. When injury occurs, poor circulation means that blood cannot circulate fast enough to heal the wounded area. The result is often infection, gout and foot ulcers, which can then lead to foot and leg amputations.
Nutritional Deficiencies and Neuropathy
Neuropathy can present after years of a poor diet. Patients who eat foods void of live enzymes will suffer consequences in later years. In our highly developed society, we have advanced to the point that people often eat foods that only come from a box, bag or can. The problem is that these foods are all dead foods where no live enzymes are present.
Malnutrition was the only common denominator in all the physical ailments these men experienced.
Poor nutrition as a cause of neuropathy was first identified during WWII. The war provided an unprecedented opportunity for observation of the effects of nutritional deficiencies. Men of many ethnicities were subjected to years of defective nutrition as prisoners of war. It was discovered that malnutrition most affected the highly differentiated cells of the organism, causing the greatest suffering. In fact, it was found that the nervous system shows the most severe and common lesions. These findings were not dependent on external factors such as region or location. In fact, the findings were the same regardless of where each person was located. Malnutrition was the only common denominator in all the physical ailments these men experienced.
Proper Diet and Pure Supplementation
Prescribing a healthy diet and specific pure supplementation to a neuropathy patient will address the nutritional deficiency issues that are causing the neuropathy. This course will get the patient’s body to start digesting and assimilating food correctly. It also allows the body to start healing from the inside and decreases the degenerative process of the nervous system. Combining the following nutrients and vitamins in a neuropathy patient’s diet should greatly speed up their recovery process.
Patients with neuropathy have a higher than usual need for vitamin E. This vitamin helps improve insulin activity and acts as an antioxidant as well as a blood oxygenator. Research has shown that people with low levels of vitamin E are also more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Studies show that vitamin E improves glucose tolerance in older patients as well as diabetic patients. A vitamin E deficiency results in increased free radical-induced damage, particularly in the lining of the vascular system. Supplemental vitamin E may help prevent diabetic complications through its antioxidant activity. Neuropathy cases may require three months of vitamin E supplementation and diet change for benefits to become apparent. The trace mineral selenium functions synergistically with vitamin E.
People with neuropathy typically have low vitamin C levels. Vitamin C lowers sorbitol levels in neuropathy patients. Sorbitol is a sugar that can accumulate and damage the eye, nerves and kidneys. The transport of vitamin C into cells is facilitated by insulin. Due to impaired transport or dietary insufficiency, a vitamin C deficiency exists in neuropathy patients and may be responsible for the increased capillary fluidity and other vascular disturbances often seen in neuropathy patients.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Diabetics with neuropathy have been shown to be deficient in vitamin B6 and benefit greatly from supplementation. Peripheral neuropathy is a known result of pyridoxine deficiency and cannot be distinguished from diabetic neuropathy.
I now can reassure them that help does exist for their Neuropathy.
Vitamin B6 supplements also improve glucose tolerance in women with diabetes caused by pregnancy. Furthermore, pyridoxine helps prevent other diabetic complications because it is an important coenzyme in the cross-linking of collagen and inhibits platelet aggregation.
Vitamin B12 supplementation has been used with some success in treating diabetic neuropathy. This may be because it corrects, or normalizes, a deficient state of vitamin B12 metabolism. Vitamin B12 is needed for normal functioning of nerve cells. Taken orally, intravenously or by injection, it reduces nerve damage caused by diabetes in most people. Oral supplementation may be sufficient.
Start Helping Neuropathy Patients Nutritionally
Most patients who come into my office to get help with neuropathy are very skeptical. They have been told over and over again that there is no help available to them. I now can reassure them that help does exist for their neuropathy. I have been thrilled with the improvements that have occurred by giving my neuropathy patients a healthy diet to follow and the right pure supplementation. Patients who have suffered for years finally have been able to feel their feet again and be pain free.
Again, I remember learning in school, “The body will heal itself given the proper environment.” After 20 plus years of practicing, it is still exciting for me to see this happen daily right before my eyes with so many patients suffering with Neuropathy.TODD SINGLETON, DC is an author, speaker, consultant, and a practicing doctor for over 20 years. He ran the largest MD/DC/PT clinics in Utah until he switched to an all-cash, nutrition model in 2006. He has a nutrition practice in Utah specializing in Weight Loss, Neuropathy, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes and other nutritional deficiencies. He also teaches fellow chiropractors how to add these programs into their offices. He can be reached at (801) 916-9532. For additional information about Dr. Singleton’s work visit www.startneuro.com