A Tough DiagnosisNeuropathy is one of those catch-all terms that basically covers all types of peripheral nerve damage. It can present as nerve pain, numbness, or tingling. It can be extremely localized, or affect large areas. In short, there’s no one definition of neuropathy, no one cause—and no one solution. That’s why the first step in dealing with neuropathy is pinpointing why you’ve got it. In many cases, it will be obvious. For instance, about 60% of diabetes sufferers will also get neuropathy at some point, often in the feet. One of the long-term effects of imbalanced blood sugar is nerve damage. Likewise, if you’re undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment, both can cause nerve damage, and often do. Sometimes, repetitive stress can be the culprit—like in the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, a type of neuropathy that affects a single nerve branch in your arm. But, in nearly every case, neuropathy comes about because your body is short of something it needs, or is getting too much of something dangerous. Lead and mercury exposure can often lead to nerve damage, while a vitamin B deficit can do the same. When I get a patient complaining about nerve problems—which is way more often than I’d like—I have to figure out the cause first. Sometimes, when there’s no obvious trigger, it can be a careful process of elimination. I run blood tests for various toxins, I check nutrient levels, and I look for any changes of habit or habitat. Usually, that will give me the answer. And if you do the same for yourself, you’ll likely get the answer as well. Occasionally, there might be a more exotic cause. If you don’t have any other illness like diabetes, can’t find a toxin or a nutrient deficiency, and aren’t being exposed to any new environments, you should check with your doctor to rule out anything truly strange going on. But, for the majority of sufferers, the cause will be very obvious once you find it.
Kicking Neuropathy to The CurbBecause nerve damage can be caused by so many things, there isn’t one single magic bullet that does the trick. Treatment is highly dependent on cause. If you’re dealing with a nutrient deficiency like not getting enough vitamin B, it’s simple—you take more vitamin B! If you’re being exposed to a toxin, you remove it from your environment and get it out of your system. In the case of heavy metals like lead and mercury, your body won’t get rid of them without help, so I recommend chelation therapy. Chelation is a chemical process—a doctor injects a substance called EDTA into your blood, where it binds to heavy metals. Once that happens, both the EDTA and the heavy metals will pass through your kidneys and out your body—easy as that. If diabetes is the issue, I put my patients on a ketogenic—or keto—diet. If you haven’t heard of it before, the keto diet is one high in natural fats—like from avocados or nuts—but very low in carbohydrates and sugar. Basically, you’re starving your body of sugar (or the substances—like carbs—that become sugar). In the absence of sugar, your body gets its energy from fat instead. It’s a highly effective diet for all type II diabetics to get their blood sugar in order. And it’s great for getting rid of the neuropathy that imbalanced blood sugar can cause. If none of those solutions work—for instance, in the case of chemo—there are a few other options that a professional can help you find. For example, I’m a proponent of photon light therapy—the same treatment astronauts use to help healing in space. In studies, this same light also reduced pain in those with neuropathy. But I wouldn’t worry too much about these more advanced treatments. In nearly all cases, the easiest—and most effective—treatment is regaining your body’s natural balance. Once you know what’s causing the problem, finding the solution is a piece of cake.
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