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Posted August 23, 2014: by Bill Sardi
A noted overseas physician writes in The Lancet, a British medical journal, to ask: “Why are there no good treatments for diabetic neuropathy?” (Neuropathy involves symptoms of numbness, tingling and pain from inflammation and nerve damage.) [The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology August 2014] Diabetics frequently experience neuropathy in their peripheral nerves (legs, arms), their retina (retinopathy) and kidneys (nephropathy).
The overseas physician’s point of view is believed to represent the typical ignorance or ambivalence towards dietary supplements that have been shown to prevent and treat diabetic neuropathy.
The overseas physician notes that the US Food & Drug Administration has approved three drugs for debilitating nerve issues among diabetics. However the three drugs are approved for treatment but not for prevention, notes the doctor.
The assumption by this doctor is that drugs need to be developed to address prevention of diabetic-related neuropathy. This is absurd.
It is clearly shown in the medical literature that a simple B vitamin, thiamin (vitamin B1) “prevents the activation of biochemical pathway induced by high blood sugar” and has a role in all of the “opathies” involved in diabetes. [Journal Clinical Medicine Research June 2012]
The fat-soluble form of vitamin B1, benfotiamine (ben-fō-tee-a-mean) is preferred because of its ability to be absorbed in the face of sugar, alcohol and molecules in tea and coffee that reduce its availability. [Pharmacological Research June 2010]
Another B vitamin, B12, has also been demonstrated to reduce pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. [Neural Plasticity 2013]
Of particular interest here is that the most common anti-diabetic drug, metformin, induces a B12 deficiency. The combination of B12 + lipoic acid has been shown to alleviate painful diabetic conditions. [Diabetes Research Clinical Practice Aug 2013]
The shortage of yet another B vitamin, folic acid, has also been linked with diabetic neuropathy. [Toxicology Industrial Health Dec 5, 2013]
The combination of folate, B12 and B6 has been shown to improve symptoms of neuropathy among diabetic patients. [Reviews Neurological Diseases 2010]
Another class of natural molecules called polyphenols, derived from grapes, apple peel, spices and tea leaves, are also on the list of available remedies for diabetic nerve conditions. [Journal Diabetes Metabolism Disorders Aug 2013] A commercially available nutraceutical has been successfully demonstrated to induce withdrawal of abnormal blood vessels seen at the back of the eye in diabetic retinopathy and wet macular degeneration. [Nutrients June 2013]
While there may be no FDA-approved drugs for these nerve conditions among diabetics, they appear to be caused by drug or disease-induced nutrient deficiencies that could easily be remedied. Why must a preventive or therapeutic agent be limited to an expensive and problematic drug? Why are nutrient deprived patients left to suffer in that state regardless of the alleged lack of evidence a vitamin prevents or treats a disease?
Physicians and drug companies hold a grip over their patients because insurance only pays for drugs and doctors receive reward for writing drug prescriptions in the form of a drug consultation fee. Furthermore, patients must come to a doctor’s office to obtain a prescription for a drug but can go to a health food store directly and treat themselves for a vitamin-based remedy. This should be deemed unfair competition.
Until doctors are sued for not testing their patients for nutrient overload or deficiencies it is not likely there will be any reform in modern medicine.
Furthermore, patients are loyal to a fault with doctors. Even if informed vitamins may remedy their condition and shown evidence in the form of a published report, many patients are still likely to go to their doctor and ask for his/her biased or ignorant opinion.
There are some uninformed doctors who maintain a patient doesn’t need to take a vitamin without confirmation of a deficiency from a blood test. But blood tests for certain nutrients are notoriously inaccurate (zinc, magnesium, B vitamins) and blood tests often only reveal recent consumption or losses caused by hormonal conditions (high blood calcium from the reduction in estrogen production in menopause). ©2014 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.