Acupuncture and dietary advice for peripheral neuropathy

What’s the damage?

Do you have hand and/or foot pain, numbness, pain with walking on cold hard surfaces that can feel like ground glass and is almost unbearable? These are the hallmarks of peripheral neuropathy. With  peripheral neuropathy, damaged nerves affect the hands and feet often causing tingling, burning or even a lack of feeling. Mathew Kulas, MA, RAc, an acupuncturist at Henry Ford Health explains, “for patients with peripheral neuropathy, the goal is to re-stimulate damaged nerve fibers and prevent them from dying off — that’s where acupuncture can really make a difference.” Nerve sensory can be lost in the sensory nerves, motor nerves and even autonomic and it is important to try and mitigate symptoms to reduce further damage. 

How is PN caused?

Peripheral neuropathy can be caused in a variety of ways. These include, traumatic injuries, infection, vitamin deficiency (like B12), thyroid disorders, alcohol abuse, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or over supplementation, autoimmune disease, metabolic problems, exposure to toxins (like chemotherapy) and diabetes can all cause peripheral neuropathy.

How does acupuncture improve peripheral neuropathy?

Acupuncture can be utilized to restore balance to the nervous system and bring the body back to homeostasis through the release of endogenous chemicals, relaxation of muscle fibers, increased blood flow and through improving nerve conductivity.

Can acupuncture help with neuropathy in the feet?

Definitely, several studies show that acupuncture alone is an effective treatment for PN and with fewer side effects than medication, if any at all. As mentioned it can help with nerve regeneration and preservation. Wherever there is diminished sensation, numbness or tingling, acupuncture can target these areas to re-stimulate the nerve fibers.

How many acupuncture sessions are needed for peripheral neuropathy?

A typical treatment course consists of weekly sessions with electroacupuncture for 6-8, sometimes 10 weeks, followed by gradual spacing out to every other week, every third week, once a month and eventually maintenance treatment once every 2-3 month. This is often paired with dietary, supplement and lifestyle advice.

What are some dietary changes that help neuropathy?

The simple answer is, a whole foods diet heavy in low inflammatory fruits, vegetables, and oils. Packed with plenty of foods high in Omega 3-fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, nutrient rich proteins and B vitamins. Stay away from seed oils and high inflammatory foods. Here is an example:

Protein: Grass fed beef, pasture raised eggs, wild caught salmon, sardines, grass fed lamb (all high in Omega 3’s and B vitamins) and of course don’t forget your grass fed organ meats, yum!

Clean Carbs: Sweet potatoes,  rice, plantains, carrots, squash, oatmeal, millet, buckwheat

Healthy fats: Grass fed butter, avocado, MCT oil, coconut butter

Low inflam veggies: Carrots, zucchini, cooked broccoli and brussel sprouts

What is the fastest way to cure neuropathy?

According the the mayo clinic, exercise. Regular exercise, such as walking three times a week, can reduce neuropathy pain, improve muscle strength and help control blood sugar levels. Gentle routines such as massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, yoga and tai chi might also help. Quit smoking and drinking asap. With the addition of the above dietary advice you will be well on your way to healing.

Where can I find help?

Come and visit any of our knowledgable staff here at Well Balanced Center For Integrated Care in Eugene, Oregon. We have acupuncture, unique styles of physical therapy and personal training, massage and movement classes for all!