To manage diabetic neuropathy, keep these goals in mind
- Reduce the discomfort and pain associated with the neuropathy and halt any further nerve damage.
- Gain better control over diabetes so your diabetic neuropathy is less severe.
If you’re diabetic, chances are you have some form of neuropathy or nerve damage, a condition that’s common in almost 60–70 percent of those with diabetes. An all-encompassing term for the group of nerve disorders that affect those with diabetes, diabetic neuropathy is brought on by the constant high levels of blood sugar. When your nerves are damaged, it can result in pain, numbness, and even a loss of feeling in extremities like the hands and legs and even in your digestive system, sex organs, and heart. And while that may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be.1
With your condition already requiring close monitoring, it is understandable if you’re looking for an alternative way to manage the problem. Fortunately, some easy home remedies, natural treatments, and simple tips can minimize the discomfort from symptoms and control the condition.
1. Control Your Diabetes To Manage Diabetic Neuropathy
Your first line of defense is actually managing your diabetes. If you can do it right, you might even reverse diabetes. By keeping your blood sugar levels in check, you can better manage diabetic neuropathy and its symptoms. Here are some simple, natural ways to keep you on track:2
- Eat healthy. Your food should be high on fresh produce and whole grains and fiber and low in saturated fat, sugar, salt, and trans fats.
- Exercise – every day if possible, even if it is just a short walk.
- Try meditation, deep breathing, walks, or even just listening to music to unwind and de-stress. Stress could cause blood sugar levels to rise.
- Monitor your blood sugar regularly. If you have high blood pressure, your blood pressure needs to be monitored regularly too.
2. Have Ashwagandha To Ease Neuropathy Symptoms
Ayurvedic herbal remedy ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) can help, whether it’s to keep your diabetes under control or manage symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. It can help bring down elevated serum insulin or blood glucose levels and also improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.3 As a result, your neuropathy symptoms will also improve and may even grow less severe. In one study, subjects who took 5 gm of ashwagandha with milk twice a day for 2 months experienced significant relief from the burning and tingling sensations in their hands and feet. That characteristic numbness also reduced considerably.4
3. Use Evening Primrose Oil To Improve Nerve Function
Apply evening primrose oil on areas that are affected to ease symptoms. If you’re lucky, it could even improve nerve function for you.5 Studies have also found that taking a combination of vitamin E and evening primrose oil supplements may help manage mild to moderate cases of diabetic neuropathy. In one study, about 88 percent of test subjects experienced relief from the symptom of burning pain as early as 2 weeks into the treatment.6
4. Take Ginger To Treat Discomfort From Gastroparesis
When your body experiences a sugar spike or hyperglycemia, it can trigger issues with nerve and muscle function in the digestive system and cause gastric problems. Ginger can help you with these gastric symptoms associated with diabetic neuropathy, such as gastroparesis where food leaves the stomach very slowly.7
Besides having myriad other health benefits, the root is a known digestive aid that can ease discomfort and nausea. It can also induce contractions that help with gastric emptying and enhance digestion.8 Ginger can be taken in a simple tea made by boiling slices of fresh ginger in water. You can also add ginger to your food as a spice.
5. Use Aromatherapy For Pain And Stress Relief
Topical use of essential oils blended in a base or carrier oil may also provide pain relief for those with neuropathy. In one study, a blend of lavender, geranium, tea tree, eucalyptus, and bergamot oils was used to help alleviate foot pain associated with peripheral neuropathy. It helped decrease the pain experienced as early as 30 minutes after application. Which means you could potentially use such oil blends every day to ease the discomfort you live with.9
Diffusing aroma oils can also help ease anxiety or stress associated with the condition. For instance, lavender oil can help you sleep better, relieve stress, and improve your mood.10 Essential oils of lime or clary sage can calm you down and make you less anxious.11
6. Have Vitamin B12-Rich Foods For Normal Nerve Function
Your diet too can make a difference if you have neuropathy. Vitamin B12, in particular, has a fundamental role in maintaining normal nervous system function. Not getting enough of the nutrient can cause loss of the protective myelin sheath around the nerves and impair nerve function.12 So consume more of vitamin B12-rich foods. Your options include:13
- Organ meat (be sure to have it sparingly, though)
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- Breakfast cereals (not all contain it, so check the label to be sure)
- Nutritional yeast (again, not all varieties have B12, so check labels)
7. Try Yoga For Managing Diabetes And Neuropathy
Yoga helps improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance and also protects against oxidative stress which is linked to complications like neuropathy.14 15 Yoga poses like the bow pose, corpse pose, seated forward bend, sitting half spinal twist, and lying-down body twist are especially useful for anyone with diabetes and can help you manage your diabetes better. This, in turn, should reduce the diabetic neuropathy you experience.
8. Quit Smoking
Smoking is a big no-no if you’re trying to manage neuropathy. It could not only worsen symptoms but even raise the risk of foot problems linked to neuropathy.16
9. Take Care Of Your Feet
If you already know you have a tendency for foot problems as a result of your neuropathy, some natural steps can help reduce your risk of complications:17
- Get routine foot exams to check for visual signs like callus formation, increased warmth, cuts/breaks, and lesions. This will help to get early and timely treatment before it presents bigger problems.
- Use footwear that reduces abnormal pressure on parts of the foot that results in ulcers/callus formation. Choose covered footwear that protects your foot from any injury or external trauma.
- Keep the feet dry, moisturize them to avoid cracks, and avoid foot soaks.
- Trim nails and file the ends to avoid them catching on bedding/clothing and breaking.
- If you’re at risk of foot problems, avoid weight-bearing or high-impact exercises that raise the risk of injury. Instead, opt for swimming or cycling.
10. Try Capsaicin As A Topical Remedy For Pain
Another topical remedy you could try is capsaicin cream made from capsicum peppers. Researchers have found that it is beneficial to people with diabetic neuropathy and can help relieve pain linked to the condition.18
11. Get A Massage To Ease Discomfort And Boost Circulation
If you have diabetic neuropathy, a good massage can help reduce the chronic pain you have learned to live with. It can ease nerve pain, anxiety and stress, help you sleep better, and improve wellness overall. It can also boost mobility. Just be sure to go to an experienced, trained therapist who is aware of your medical condition.19
|↑1, ↑5, ↑16||Nerve Damage (Diabetic Neuropathies). The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑2||4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑3||Anwer, Tarique, Manju Sharma, Krishna Kolappa Pillai, and Muzaffar Iqbal. “Effect of Withania somnifera on Insulin Sensitivity in Non‐Insulin‐Dependent Diabetes Mellitus Rats.” Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology 102, no. 6 (2008): 498-503.|
|↑4||Hem Raj, Saini Manju, Tak Anjna, and Thakur Sudarshan. “To Study Effect Of Ashwagandha In Diabetic Neuropathy.” World Journal of Ayurveda Science (2017)|
|↑6||Ogbera, Anthonia Okeoghene, Emmanuel Ezeobi, Chioma Unachukwu, and Olajumoke Oshinaike. “Treatment of diabetes mellitus-associated neuropathy with vitamin E and Eve primrose.” Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism 18, no. 6 (2014): 846.|
|↑7||Gonlachanvit, Sutep, Yen Hsueh Chen, William L. Hasler, Wei Ming Sun, and Chung Owyang. “Ginger reduces hyperglycemia-evoked gastric dysrhythmias in healthy humans: possible role of endogenous prostaglandins.” Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 307, no. 3 (2003): 1098-1103.|
|↑8||Hu, Ming-Luen, Christophan K. Rayner, Keng-Liang Wu, Seng-Kee Chuah, Wei-Chen Tai, Yeh-Pin Chou, Yi-Chun Chiu, King-Wah Chiu, and Tsung-Hui Hu. “Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia.” World J Gastroenterol 17, no. 1 (2011): 105-10.|
|↑9||Li, Li. “The effect of Neuragen PN® on Neuropathic pain: A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 10, no. 1 (2010): 22.|
|↑10||Koulivand, Peir Hossein, Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri, and Ali Gorji. “Lavender and the nervous system.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).|
|↑11||Keville, Kathi, and Mindy Green. Aromatherapy: a complete guide to the healing art. Crossing Press, 2012.|
|↑12||Nutritional and Vitamin Deficiency Neuropathy. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy.|
|↑13||Vitamin B12. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑14||Innes, Kim E., and Heather K. Vincent. “The influence of yoga-based programs on risk profiles in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 4, no. 4 (2007): 469-486.|
|↑15||Hegde, Shreelaxmi V., Prabha Adhikari, Shashidhar Kotian, Veena J. Pinto, Sydney D’Souza, and Vivian D’Souza. “Effect of 3-month yoga on oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes with or without complications.” Diabetes care 34, no. 10 (2011): 2208-2210.|
|↑17||Mayfield, Jennifer A., Gayle E. Reiber, Lee J. Sanders, Dennis Janisse, Leonard M. Pogach, and American Diabetes Association. “Preventive foot care in people with diabetes.” Diabetes care 26 (2003): S78.|
|↑18||Tandan, Rup, Gloria A. Lewis, Patricia B. Krusinski, Gary B. Badger, and Timothy J. Fries. “Topical capsaicin in painful diabetic neuropathy: controlled study with long-term follow-up.” Diabetes care 15, no. 1 (1992): 8-14.|
|↑19||Massage for Neuropathy. Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy.|