I have been asked by many cancer survivors, is there something natural I can take for neuropathy from chemo? The sensation of numbness and tingling is a common side effect that can be hard to shake once treatment ends. The good news is, there are some natural therapies that have been super helpful for my patients with neuropathy and I wanted to share these things with you.
But first, let’s talk about what neuropathy is and why neuropathy (or as the research calls it, neurotoxicity) happens in the first place.
Chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is typically defined by the symptoms it causes. Although neuropathy is most frequently caused by chemotherapy, it can also be caused by radiation and surgery, too.
The symptoms that comprise neuropathy include: numbness, tingling, pain, and having reduced sensation in the hands and/or feet. In really advanced cases, neuropathy can show up as difficulty walking or general changes in movement in general.
Causes of Neuropathy
The exact causes of CIPN or cancer neuropathy from chemo has been hard to figure out. Recently, scientists have narrowed down the causes to:
- Structural changes in the nerves – the actual structure and function of the nerves are changed.
- DNA damage – by damaging the DNA, there can be changes in the ability for the nerve to regenerate, repair, and grow.
- Mitochondrial Changes – this is where your cells make energy.
- Increased Oxidative Stress – simply put, oxidation is the same thing that causes metal to rust. So oxidative stress in our body causes damage to our cells.
- Ion Channel Changes – the ion channels are how cells communicate and receive signals. When this changes, the nerves’ ability to function also changes.
- Neuroinflammation – this is inflammation of the nerve cells.
Natural Treatments for Neuropathy from Chemo
Acupuncture and Dry Needling: acupuncture can increase blood flow in the arms and legs, promote nerve repair, stop nerve damage, and reduce pain.
Calcium + Magnesium: In some studies, calcium and magnesium decreased neuropathy incidence by up to 50%. But, these minerals are discouraged during certain chemotherapies because it might make treatment less effective. Calcium and magnesium could help balance the changes in the ion c