Mutations are frequent events in our body. Fortunately, most of these mutations are either harmless or are removed from our body by our immune system. Some of the modifications survive to cause cancer.
Modern medicine has come up with lots of drugs that kill the cancer cell, but chemotherapy is more like using a powerful bomb that is essential for defeating such a powerful enemy, but it causes lots of collateral damage.
Chemotherapy drugs are highly cytotoxic drugs, means they are poisonous for most body cells, but since mutated (cancer) cells have a higher level of metabolism, they end up drinking more of this poison and dying in the process. Unintentional damage to other cells, including nerve cells is common.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Today there are a plethora of drugs to fight cancer. Each of them would damage the nerve cells differently. Thus, neuropathy in post-chemotherapy may be felt as a tingling sensation, numbness, or even pain in the limbs. Some may develop symptoms of autonomic neuropathy, therefore may feel fatigued, constipated, or having difficulty in controlling the bladder.
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Why Consider Natural Remedies?
When it comes to treating neuropathy, modern medicine is almost helpless. There is not a single drug to date that could accelerate the healing process. All that the current chemical drugs can do is to relieve the symptoms. Thus, a doctor would most commonly prescribe ant seizure drugs (pregabalin, gabapentin), anti-depressants, or opioid-like painkillers.
Most of the over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs would not help. However, complementary medicine and natural remedies can be helpful in many such cases.
Natural Remedies for Chemo-Induced Neuropathy
- Vitamin E – Also called alpha-tocopherol is a powerful natural antioxidant. Vegetables, nuts and green leafy vegetables are rich sources of it. Vitamin-E is also available in pharmacies, but one must understand that those are synthetically produced Synthetic Vitamin-E differs in its chemical structure and action as compared to natural Vitamin-E. Artificial Vitamin-E is all-rac-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, whereas natural form is RRR-alpha-tocopherol. Thus, it would be better to use supplements containing natural Vitamin-E, which is more powerful and efficient.
- Glutamate and glutamine – It is one of the most common of amino acid in the blood, and almost 60% of our muscles are made of it. Anyone involved in bodybuilding knows it as a useful It is depleted in any stress-related condition, be it strenuous physical exercise, chronic illness, or cancer. Several clinical trials show that person may recover from neuropathy more quickly if taking glutamate supplement on a daily basis. Moreover, glutamate would help not only in nerve damage but recovery from many other side effects of chemo. It would help to gain muscle mass and body weight.
- Goshajinkigan (Gosha-jinki-gan) – This is an herbal formulation from traditional Chinese medicine, which has been adopted in Japan and is called Kampo medicine. This natural remedy contains ten different types of natural ingredients. In recent times there have been many studies demonstrating its efficacy in neuropathy caused due to diabetes and chemotherapy.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine – it is synthesized in kidneys, liver, and brain, playing an essential role in the cellular metabolism. It also helps to detoxify the nerve cell, thus protecting them from the byproducts of metabolism. It has been studied in neuropathy due to metabolic change or toxic effect of drugs.
- Alpha-lipoic acid – potent antioxidant, plays an essential role in energy production, has also been demonstrated to have anti-cancer properties. The large-scale clinical trials have shown it to be a useful treatment of neuropathy due to various causes.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – These fatty acids form the part of the cell membrane of neurons and other body cells. It has been shown to be useful in the treatment of neuropathies, cardiopathies, having an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effect. Seafood and fatty fishes are rich sources of omega fatty acids. Fish oil capsules have lots of omega fatty acids.
- Curcumin – it is an extract from turmeric which has been added to curries to give them a yellow But curcumin in natural turmeric is poorly absorbed, and its content may not be very high. It is an antioxidant that prevents and may even help to reverse the damaged nerves. It is more efficient when taken as an extract or supplement with improved absorption.
- Vitamins of group B – Vitamin B1, B6, and B12 are all known to help the healing of damaged nerves. They are sold in various forms and are present in most of the multivitamin tabs. If a person is suffering from neuropathy, it would be better to take supplements that are created explicitly for nerve pain, as they have a higher content of Vitamin B group.
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If you need a book which teaches patients how to cope with the challenges of cancer treatment, you can consider this one: The Chemotherapy Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Get Through Treatment
Chemotherapy causes widespread damage to various cells in our body. Thus it is imperative to have balanced and nutritious diet, take regular exercise. The acute deficit of different essential elements may not be possible to fulfill by dietary measures alone, thus adding natural remedies and supplements is a fast forward way to recovery.