There are approximately 20.8 million children and adults in the United States who have diabetes, and 1.5 million Americans are newly diagnosed with diabetes every year. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes raise the risk of nerve problems. High blood sugar can cause damage to the nerves and this is called neuropathy.

Approximately 60 percent of people with diabetes eventually develop neuropathy. Nerve damage is responsible for many of the complications of diabetes; it is the leading cause of lower limb amputations in diabetics. You are more likely to develop neuropathy if you have poor control over your blood sugar or you have sustained high blood sugar.

Rates of diabetes are climbing rapidly all across the world. People are also developing type 2 diabetes at a younger age than has previously occurred. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to develop neuropathy. It can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable condition and conventional medical treatment often produces very lacklustre results.

Diabetes is a chronic disease whereby the body either cannot produce enough insulin, or it can’t use the insulin that is produced. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps your body use the glucose you eat for energy. Diabetes causes the blood sugar level to rise too high. Diabetes is a terrible disease; it greatly reduces a person’s quality of life and shortens it substantially. It will age you more quickly and make it very difficult for you to lose weight.

Symptoms of neuropathy

The most common symptoms of nerve disease include:

  • Numbness, prickling, or tingling sensations in the feet or hands. Symptoms come on gradually and can spread upwards into the arms and legs
  • Sharp, jabbing or throbbing sensations
  • Freezing or burning, painful sensations
  • Burning hot feet or legs while in bed at night
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch in specific places
  • Poor coordination and increased incidence of falling
  • Numbness of the feet and not feeling your feet while walking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bowel, bladder, or digestive problems can occur if nerves to those organs are affected

Several other medical conditions besides diabetes can cause neuropathy. Therefore if you experience these symptoms, make sure your doctor performs a thorough evaluation of your health.

What can be done to protect the nerves and ease the symptoms?

The better control you have of your blood sugar, the less likely you are to experience neuropathy. My recommendations for all type 2 diabetics include the following:

  • Avoid sugar and flour and the foods and drinks that contain them. Also avoid vegetable oil and every food that contains it. The only safe vegetable oils to consume are cold pressed olive oil, cold pressed macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, or organic coconut oil.
  • Make sure your diet contains sufficient protein. It is very important to eat protein at each meal. This will help to keep your blood sugar stable and significantly reduce the risk of carb and sugar cravings. It is easier to maintain a healthy diet if you are feeling satiated. Meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs are all excellent sources of protein. Plant foods like legumes, nuts, and seeds do contain some protein, but they also contain quite a lot of carbohydrate, and the protein in them is poorly digested (not very bio-available). Whey is another great source of protein and having a whey protein smoothie is quick and convenient when you don’t have the time to cook a proper meal.
  • Obtain sufficient minerals required for blood sugar control, these are primarily chromium and magnesium. It is very difficult to obtain enough of these minerals through modern diets, and some medication increases the loss of these minerals from your body, particularly diuretics. Chromium and magnesium work best when combined with the herbs Gymnema and bitter melon, such as in Glicemic Balance capsules.
  • Take a liver tonic containing an effective dose of St Mary’s thistle. St Mary’s thistle helps to protect liver cells from damage and can even help to regenerate damaged liver cells. If you have some degree of liver dysfunction we strongly recommend you take a liver tonic long term, such as Livatone Plus.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise helps your body to burn fat from the areas you can see, such as your thighs and triceps, but also helps to clear fat from areas you can’t see, such as your liver, arteries, and other organs.
  • Berberine is extremely beneficial for diabetics, because it helps normalize blood sugar and blood insulin levels. Berberine also helps improve blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides, which are often elevated in diabetics.
  • The cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins can cause neuropathy, along with a host of other side effects. Examples of statins are Lipitor, Pravachol, Zocor and Lipex. If you are taking one of these drugs and suffer with neuropathy, you may want to discuss this with your doctor. Our book Cholesterol the Real Truth gives you a treatment plan to lower your cholesterol.
  • Ensure you have plenty of beneficial fats in your diet, as fat provides a protective coating around your nerves and facilitates their function. You can find beneficial fatty acids in fish, olive oil, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, whole eggs, ground flaxseeds, and virgin organic coconut oil.

See Dr Cabot interview a diabetic patient who experienced relief from neuropathy.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.