The loss of function and pain associated with nerve damage leaves many patients wondering what, if anything, can be done to repair nerves. Some herbal supplements promote nerve regeneration, helping to restore function and slow degeneration. Talk with your doctor before taking any new supplements, and consult a licensed holistic doctor for proper dosages and combinations.
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Nerve damage may be the result of degenerative diseases, chronic impairment or a traumatic injury. If the nerve is not completely severed, it has the ability to regenerate. Nerves do not receive nutrients in the same fashion as muscles and many other tissues, and it takes longer for regeneration to occur. If conditions underlying nerve damage, such as a herniated disc pinching nerve roots, for example, are treated, nerves have the opportunity to heal over time.
Many herbs are used independently or in combination with other herbs to assist nerve regeneration. Grape seed extract has benefited patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy, though more research needs to be done to confirm these results, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Evening primrose oil is another herbal supplement that helps with nerve damage related to diabetes. St. John's wort, lavender and tumeric reduce nerve irritation and aid regeneration of nerves damaged through traumatic injuries, according to Medline Plus. Taking acetyl-L-carnitine reduces pain and assists with nerve regrowth, according to a study by A.F. Sima, M.D. and colleagues published in "Diabetes Care" in 2004.
Chinese Medicine Combination
Many herbs are used in Chinese medicine in conjunction with acupuncture to assist with nerve regeneration. Acupuncture uses tiny needles to stimulate qi, or energy, flow in the body's "meridians," the energy centers that are thought to be blocked when the body experiences illness or the inability to heal.
According to Alexander Raskin, M.D. at Vitamins and Health Info, inflammation is the cause of most pain. Inflammation can create pressure on nerves and even restrict blood flow, preventing nutrient supplies from maintaining nerve health. The herbal supplements that promote nerve regeneration are said to assist in circulation as well.
It is possible to have an allergic reaction to herbal supplements. Some supplements are toxic when taken in large quantities. St. John's wort may cause skin irritation and should only be taken orally as directed, and it can interact with many prescription medications. Talk to your doctor about mixing herbal supplements with prescription medications. Tumeric and St. John's wort should not be taken two weeks prior to surgery as they can cause clotting problems, according to Medline Plus.