Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common complications of diabetes mellitus. It is caused by damage to a diabetic patient's nerves, likely due to a combination of different factors such as metabolic factors, autoimmune factors, neurovascular factors, lifestyle factors, mechanical injury to nerves and even inherited traits.
Experts estimate that around 60 percent to 70 percent of patients with diabetes mellitus develop some form of neuropathy. In addition, the risk of developing neuropathy increases as the patient grows older, with higher rates observed in patients who have had diabetes for at least 25 years.
With this in mind, researchers from Integral University in India conducted a review of existing studies on various alternative remedies for diabetic neuropathy, including herbal and Ayurvedic remedies.
Their findings were published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.
The researchers noted that while there are various medicinal formulations that can reduce the harmful effects of diabetes and its complications, herbal ones are preferred as they have fewer side effects and lower cost.
With this in mind, the researchers reviewed studies that looked at herbal remedies for diabetes and whether they had any positive effects on diabetic neuropathy. These studies identified the following plants as having analgesic and neuroprotective effects against neuropathic pain:
The researchers also reviewed studies that investigated the use of Ayurvedic medicine against diabetic neuropathy and diabetes.
They acknowledged that the mechanisms of diabetic neuropathy are still poorly understood. As such, treatment currently focuses on alleviating pain. Studies also point out that the first line of treatment for diabetic polyneuropathy is the management of diabetes itself.
The studies were able to identify a number of Ayurvedic medicines and treatments that were effective in addressing either nerve damage linked to diabetic neuropathy or diabetes itself. These Ayurvedic treatments include:
Beyond herbal and Ayurvedic treatments, the researchers also looked at studies exploring other alternative remedies for diabetic neuropathy.
They reported that consuming coffee, black cumin seed (Nigella sativa) oil, evening primrose oil, cinnamon oil, as well as foods rich in B vitamins could help address diabetic neuropathy. Traditional Chinese Medicine formulations like baimai-san and aconitum were also found to help with the disease. (Related: Treating diabetic foot pain with alternative remedies.)
Based on their review, the researchers concluded that various herbal, Ayurvedic and alternative remedies show promise in treating diabetic neuropathy. They also noted that more research should be conducted on these remedies and treatments to allow for the development of innovative new therapies against diabetic neuropathy and diabetes.
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