Nerve damage can be an excruciating condition that occurs due to aging or ailments such as diabetes. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs may help to diminish the pain, but do not always help heal the nerves. Sometimes, those suffering from nerve damage are low in certain vitamins and nutrients essential for proper function. Several nutrients that may help heal nerves include vitamin B complex, vitamin E and gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA. Although some studies have been conducted to determine the value of these nutrients, consult with a trained health care practitioner to establish the best course of action for healing nerve damage.
Consuming a B vitamin complex daily might help to heal nerve damage. Nerve damage may in fact stem from a lack of sufficient B vitamins in the body, especially thiamin, B6 and B12, according to "Prevention's Healing with Vitamins" by Alice Feinstein. Those whose nerve damage stems from diabetes in particular can often benefit from B vitamin complex supplementation.
Consult a doctor before supplementing with B vitamins higher than the recommended daily value, as doses of B6 above 200 mg have been shown to actually cause nerve damage.
Vitamin E is perhaps better known for preventing nerve damage, but it can also help in healing it. Those who have trouble properly absorbing vitamin E may in fact be suffering from nerve damage due to absorption issues. The book "The Vitamin E Factor," by Andreas M. Papas, notes that studies on rats have shown that vitamin E significantly slows nerve damage from diabetes, fights free radicals that cause nerve damage in the eyes and reduces inflammation throughout the body. Papas adds that it takes months before muscles and nerves are fully enriched with vitamin E if a patient has previously been deficient in the vitamin. Consult with a doctor before supplementing with vitamin E as too much can have negative side effects.
Gamma-linolenic acid is purported to help nerve function. In "Earl Mindell's Diet Bible: Cut the Carbs and Lose the Fat," Mindell explains that GLA maintains normal nerve function and forms part of the sheath that coats the nerve cells. A diet high in sugar, trans-fats or alcohol interferes with the enzyme that properly converts GLA, so many people are lacking in this important nutrient.
Mindell recommends taking 150 to 250 mg of supplemental GLA a day. He adds that those suffering from diabetes should take 400 mg a day. Check with your doctor before adding GLA to your diet.
- "Prevention's Healing with Vitamins"; Alice Feinstein; 1996
- "The Vitamin E Factor"; Andreas M. Papas; 1999
- "Earl Mindell's Diet Bible: Cut the Carbs and Lose the Fat"; Earl Mindell; 2003