Neuropathy means damage to the nerves, which transmit messages from the spinal cord to the brain. Neuropathy often causes numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, called peripheral neuropathy. Physical injury or trauma to nerves most often causes neuropathy; between 60 to 70 percent of diabetics also have neuropathy, ranging from mild to severe, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. A number of diseases, acute infections and toxins can also cause neuropathy. Many people turn to herbs for relief – but do not take herbs for neuropathy without your doctor’s approval.
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a topical pain reliever that can help reduce discomfort from neuropathy. Capsaicin works by depleting substance P, a pain-causing chemical, from nerve receptors. Applying cayenne pepper in a topical solution initially stimulates the release of substance P but then depletes it, which decreases pain. Several over-the-counter topical pain relievers containing cayenne pepper approved for use by United States Food and Drug Administration are available. They appear to help at least some people with neuropathies from shingles; trigeminal neuralgia, which causes facial neuropathy; and diabetic retinopathy, the Diabetes Self-Management website reports. In some cases, topical application of this herb can worsen pain. Wright State University pharmacy suggests starting with the weakest concentration of the herb and increasing over time. It can take one to two months to work up to the strongest dose.
A systematic review of studies conducted by the University of Oxford reported on study findings in the April 24, 2004 issue of the “British Medical Journal.” L. Mason and colleagues, of the Pain Research and Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, reported that capsaicin had poor to moderate effectiveness overall in six separate studies.
Characterized by pain, tingling sensations and numbness, damage or injury to the nerves can alter the function of the nervous system. Neuropathy can interrupt the communication of the nerves between the brain, spinal cord and the central nervous system. Several treatments have been found to improve the symptoms of neuropathy and a herbal treatment containing several specific herbs can help improve the condition. For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at (915) 850-0900.