Vitamin B9, AKA Folic Acid, is a Key Supplement for Maintaining and Improving Nerve Health When Dealing with Peripheral Neuropathy.
You may know that folic acid helps to prevent birth defects, which is why it’s one of the key ingredients in prenatal vitamins.
What you may not know, however, is that folic acid is a vital nutrient for people with neuropathy and chronic pain. That’s because a folic acid deficiency can directly influence the development of peripheral neuropathy.
Why is folic acid so important for those with neuropathy?
It has to do with the role of folic acid in the body. This supplement, which is also known as vitamin B9, is essential for repairing damaged cells in the body. It feeds DNA synthesis, and it’s needed for preventing anemia (a condition involving a lower than normal quantity of red blood cells).
An abnormally low level of folic acid in the body can also cause fatigue, depression, and mouth sores.
For all of these reasons, folic acid is one of the essential nutrients that should be checked by your neuropathy specialist in a routine evaluation, along with vitamins D and B12, especially if you’re over 50 years old.
Also, don’t rely on self-diagnosis for folic acid deficiency. This is important to understand because if you took a folic acid supplement without first testing for B12 deficiency, you could be masking one problem while trying to provide self treatment for another. The other reason to avoid self-diagnosing is that some vitamin deficiencies can have serious consequences for your nervous system, and it’s best to begin your neuropathy treatment with a thorough examination by a trained neuropathy specialist.
Be aware that you’re unlikely to experience a folic acid deficiency if you are following our recommended neuropathy diet. That’s because the diet includes an abundance of foods that are natural sources of the B vitamins, such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, and fresh fruits. However, it’s vital to store and prepare your food appropriately in order to avoid breakdown of key vitamins before the food is even ingested.
You can find neuropathy nutritional supplements such as our Neuropathy DR Metabolic Support Formula at the Self-Guided Care Store.
Why You Need Folic Acid to Combat Peripheral Neuropathy is a post from: #1 in Neuropathy & Chronic Pain Treatment
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Peripheral Neuropathy Can Severely Impair Your Everyday Functioning—Unless You Take These Important Steps Back to Good Nerve Health
You already know from experience that peripheral neuropathy can have severe and destructive effects on your everyday quality of life. With neuropathic pain, even the easiest tasks can begin to feel impossible. It’s hard to work, to move around, or even to sleep when you are affected by nerve pain, numbness, and tingling.
When we talk about “quality of life” in the medical setting, we are looking at the degree to which you have been able to adapt to your medical condition. We take a look at things like your interactions with family and friends, your physical well-being, the activities you enjoy in your life, and your own perception of the state of your health.
That last one is crucially important. We know that your beliefs and attitudes about your underlying medical condition (such as diabetes, lupus, or HIV/AIDS) make a huge difference in your quality of life and your ability to deal with peripheral neuropathy symptoms.
Peripheral neuropathy is considered to be chronic pain. It’s not something that will come and go; people with peripheral neuropathy symptoms tend to experience them constantly. This kind of never-ending pain can be disruptive to your ability to work, your social life, your sleep routine, and your mental health. Many people with peripheral neuropathy become anxious or depressed due to their experience of chronic pain.
The Good News About Quality of Life with Peripheral Neuropathy
Let me share the good news about neuropathic pain. Although most nerve damage is permanent and there is no true cure for peripheral neuropathy, there are many things that you are able to do to improve your quality of life and regain close-to-normal functioning.
First, take good care of your feet, wear comfortable shoes and socks, and avoid going barefoot. Get foot massages to help reduce pain and improve your circulation. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any sore spots, blisters, or other issues on the soles of your feet.
Next, cut back on caffeine and nicotine. If you’re able to quit, do so! Nicotine has been shown to decrease your circulation, and caffeine most likely is making your peripheral neuropathy pain even worse.
Try to maintain an active lifestyle to the extent that is possible for you. Of course, you’ll need to check with your doctor or peripheral neuropathy clinician before beginning any exercise program. Exercise will improve your circulation, your mood, and your overall quality of life.
Finally, one of the most important changes you can make is to follow the NeuropathyDR® diet that provides everything your body needs to begin healing peripheral neuropathy. This is best undertaken under the supervision of a NeuropathyDR® specialist who can prescribe a custom treatment plan for your individual needs. To find a NeuropathyDR® specialist near you, click here.
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Sleep Disturbances Are Common, But They Are Especially Disruptive to Your Health When You’re Struggling With Neuropathy Symptoms.
Most people experience sleep problems at some point in their lives. While there are those with chronic insomnia or other disturbances, sleep issues are brief and mild for many of us.
However, when neuropathy symptoms come into the picture, sleep problems become more than an annoyance. Insufficient sleep is a global health concern for those with peripheral neuropathy.
You already know that sleep is a required period of rest for your body’s systems. Without sufficient and regular sleep, we just can’t function on a normal, healthy level.
When your sleep is disturbed, your body simply isn’t getting a chance to recharge its key systems. Neuropathy symptoms can contribute to that lost sleep, and lost sleep means that your neuropathy symptoms will be intensified—both right now and over time. It’s a vicious cycle leading to fatigue, weight gain, pains or muscle aches, and possibly depression, in addition to the neuropathy symptoms you’re already experiencing.
So what can you do if your sleep problems are making your peripheral neuropathy symptoms even worse?
My first suggestion is a visit to your local NeuropathyDR® clinician or another trained physician who is well versed in dealing with neuropathy symptoms. You need to address any global health issues aside from neuropathy and accurately diagnose what is interrupting your sleep cycle. If medication or other neuropathy treatments are appropriate for you, those will aid you in better sleep, as well.
Next, make adjustments in your day-to-day lifestyle that will help encourage a healthy pattern of sleep. Daily exercise, as approved by your doctor based on your body’s needs, is very important. When you can exercise outdoors in the sun, that’s even better. Avoid dehydration, follow an effective neuropathy diet, and reduce stress wherever you can.
Some patients also respond well to supplementing with magnesium throughout the day, but this should only be done under your doctor’s supervision and is not appropriate for anyone with kidney disease.
Finally, consider the use of our home care kits, featuring an easy-to-use electrotherapy neurostimulator approved by the FDA. This simple but effective device can improve your sleep significantly by reducing neuropathy symptoms like pain and tingling. Best of all, you can use it while falling asleep, thanks to the built-in timer and automatic shut-off. Read more about the NDGen Home Care Kit.
What To Do When Sleep Problems Make Your Neuropathy Symptoms Even Worse is a post from: #1 in Neuropathy & Chronic Pain Treatment
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Are You Surprised That Making Art Could Be a Supportive Addition to Your Neuropathy Treatments?
One of the most effective at-home neuropathy treatments can be done anytime, anywhere, and you don’t need special materials to do it. You don’t even have to have a special talent or training in art.
Making art can include everything from drawing or painting to collage, scrapbooking, or even flower arranging. The basic human drive to make art, going back to cave paintings many thousands of years ago, is simply about making things that are special and unique that have personal meaning or bring beauty into your world.
And as it turns out, making art is physically good for you! Creativity might even be the perfect way to supplement neuropathy treatments.
Even way back in 2008, the National Institutes of Health described in their newsletter that scientists had already begun studying how the process of making art can reduce stress, ease pain, and improve quality of life. Art therapy has been shown positive benefits with many medical and emotional issues, from trauma or depression to chemotherapy fatigue. In other words, creativity can be a great supplement to your other neuropathy treatments.
There are many options for making art besides drawing and painting, and anyone can do these relaxing creative activities without any special training or materials. Try one of these easy art options.
Magazine Collage Journal
Materials you’ll need:
- Blank journal or spiral notebook
Flip through any magazine looking for images that speak to you. Perhaps they make you feel happy or excited, or they remind you of good memories. Choose three images to glue down to your journal page in any way that looks right to you. If you want, flip to a new page in your journal and write down your thoughts about the images you selected today.
Index Card Mandala
Materials you’ll need:
- Index cards
- Small jar lid
- Markers or colored pencils
“Mandala” is a Sanskrit word for “sacred circle.” Psychologist Carl Jung used to make a daily practice of creating mandala designs to help him process his ideas. Coloring mandalas has also been shown to be relaxing to your nervous system. All you need to do is find a small circular object, like a jar lid, and trace around it onto your index card. Now use markers, colored pencils, or crayons to fill in the circle with any shapes, colors, and lines that you want. If you prefer to color in larger and more elaborate mandala designs, you can find free printable mandalas online.
Blind Contour Drawing
Materials you’ll need:
- A Sharpie marker
- Blank paper
- Willingness to try something new
Elizabeth Layton is famous for having become an artist at the age of 68, using a daily practice of making blind contour drawings to help her battle depression. “Blind contour” means that you will be drawing a continuous line without looking at the paper; instead, you focus your gaze on the object you’re drawing. The end result obviously won’t be a perfect drawing, but what’s important in this process is the experience of drawing. I recommend a Sharpie marker because there’s no temptation to erase or “fix” anything and you can concentrate on really seeing an object, rather than forcing your drawing to look a certain way. Try it for a few days and see how much fun it can be to create messy, process-oriented drawings!
Are you curious about how to add a creativity prescription to your neuropathy treatments? Talk with us about it at our Facebook page.
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The Winding Road of Chronic Pain
Written by: Carol Jeffrey
We’re traveling down this windy, crazy, hazardous road of chronic pain. Often we’re speeding in the darkness with our headlights off, violently crashing into unseen obstacles. We shake off and often minimize the damage caused by these collisions. But if we don’t attend to these damages as they occur…our vehicle will soon be totaled.
Wildly we slip and slide out of control in the storms that overwhelm us. So we pull over, rest and wait for the storm to pass. But if the storm lasts too long, we stop clearing the windows, and cease to look if the sun has reappeared. This type of apathy is a slow and silent killer of hope.
Bridges often crumble beneath the weight of our burdens. This type of loss and isolation is one of the greatest hardships of chronic pain. If we are to avoid being stranded on an isolated island, and trapped in a deep dark pit of depression…survival requires us to adapt, learn new skills, maintain healthy relationships, and build connections to life.
We easily see when others are in need, and graciously pull over to offer assistance. After all, this is a welcomed distraction from our own painful journey…but lets not make it a road-stop. While it’s easy to identify needs and solutions for others, it’s equally as difficult to acknowledge our own need for fuel or repair. Our engines will cease to run, if we allow our ego to fill our gas tank with gallons of guilt, instead of letting another fill us with fuel.
At times we’re impatiently and painfully held up in surgical construction or we may find ourselves on a needed detour learning new paths that promote health. Pit stops are required, to clear the windshield, change the tires, tweak the engine so that we may travel with optimal performance. Maintenance and checking our route is essential for a less burdensome journey.
We are not alone in our chronic pain journey, for our doctors, friends and family are passengers…who’s needs also need to be acknowledged. It’s easy to forget that it’s a challenging and painful journey for them as well.
We are in control of our life and choose whether the pain steers us wildly off of a cliff or whether we take control of our vehicle and steer it in the path of our desires.
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