Mutations are common events in our bodies. Fortunately, most of these mutations are either harmless or removed from our body by our immune system. Some of the changes survive to cause cancer.
Modern medicine has developed many drugs that kill the cancer cell, but chemotherapy is more like using a powerful bomb, which is essential to defeat such a powerful enemy, but it causes a lot of collateral damage.
Chemotherapy drugs are highly cytotoxic, meaning that they are toxic to most cells in the body, but because mutated (cancer) cells have a higher metabolic rate, they end up drinking more of this poison and die. Accidental damage to other cells, including nerve cells, is common.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Today, there are many drugs available to fight cancer. Each of them damages nerve cells in a different way. For example, neuropathy after chemotherapy can be experienced as tingling, numbness or even pain in the limbs. Some people may develop symptoms of autonomic neuropathy, such as fatigue, constipation or bladder control problems.
Why Consider Natural Remedies?
Modern medicine is almost helpless when it comes to treating neuropathy. There is not a single drug that can speed up the healing process. The only thing the current chemical drugs can do is relieve the symptoms. So a doctor would most likely prescribe anti-seizure drugs (pregabalin, gabapentin), antidepressants or opioid-like painkillers.
Most over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs would not help. However, complementary medicine and natural remedies can help in many of these cases.
Natural Remedies for Chemo-Induced Neuropathy
- Vitamin E – Also known as alpha-tocopherol, it is a powerful natural antioxidant. Vegetables, nuts and green leafy vegetables are rich sources of it. Vitamin E is also available in pharmacies, but it is important to understand that these are synthetically produced. Synthetic vitamin E differs from natural vitamin E in its chemical structure and effect. Synthetic vitamin E is all-rac-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, whereas the natural form is RRR-alpha-tocopherol. It is therefore better to take supplements containing natural vitamin E, which is more potent and effective.
- Glutamate and glutamine – It is one of the most abundant amino acids in the blood and almost 60% of our muscles are made up of it. It is depleted in any stress-related condition, be it strenuous physical exercise, chronic illness or cancer. Several clinical trials show that people can recover from neuropathy more quickly if they take glutamate supplements on a daily basis. In addition, glutamate would not only help with nerve damage, but also with recovery from many other side effects of chemotherapy. It would help to increase muscle mass and body weight.
- Goshajinkigan (Gosha-jinki-gan) – This is a herbal formulation from traditional Chinese medicine that has been adopted in Japan and is called Kampo medicine. This natural remedy contains ten different types of natural ingredients. Recently, many studies have shown its effectiveness in treating neuropathy caused by diabetes and chemotherapy.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine – It is synthesised in the kidneys, liver and brain and plays an essential role in cellular metabolism. It also helps to detoxify the nerve cell, protecting it from metabolic by-products. It has been studied in neuropathy due to metabolic changes or toxic effects of drugs.
- Alpha-lipoic acid – A powerful antioxidant that plays an essential role in energy production, it has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Large-scale clinical trials have shown it to be a useful treatment for neuropathy due to a variety of causes.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – These fatty acids form part of the cell membrane of nerve cells and other body cells. They have been shown to be useful in the treatment of neuropathies and cardiopathies, and have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. Seafood and oily fish are rich sources of omega fatty acids. Fish oil capsules are rich in omega fatty acids.
- Curcumin – It is an extract of turmeric that is added to curries to give them a yellow colour, but curcumin in natural turmeric is poorly absorbed and its levels may not be very high. It is an antioxidant that can prevent and even reverse nerve damage. It is more effective when taken as an extract or supplement with improved absorption.
- Vitamins of group B – Vitamins B1, B6 and B12 are all known to help heal damaged nerves. They come in various forms and are found in most multivitamin tablets. If a person is suffering from neuropathy, it would be better to take supplements designed specifically for nerve pain, as they have higher levels of B vitamins.
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If you need a book that teaches patients how to cope with the challenges of cancer treatment, this is the book for you: The Chemotherapy Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Get Through Treatment
Chemotherapy causes widespread damage to various cells in the body. Therefore, it is imperative to eat a balanced and nutritious diet and take regular exercise. The acute deficit of various essential elements may not be met by dietary measures alone, so adding natural remedies and supplements is a fast track to recovery.