Understanding how aspirin stops nerve pain

We take for granted the comfort we feel in our hands and feet, but some people have lost that comfort, and they suffer all day long with strange nerve-related concerns. There is new research about aspirin which could help you, but first let’s talk about nerve pain, termed “neuropathy.”

It feels like you are touching or stepping on pins and needles! It can affect you all over, not just your hands and feet. Depending on various factors (race, age, weight, alcohol consumption, insulin and A1c), your experience of neuropathy may also include pain, vibration or buzzing sensations, lightheadedness, burning sensations (even in your tongue), trigeminal neuralgia or cystitis.

Recognizing what your neuropathy stems from is critical to you getting well. For some, it is due to a vitamin deficiency. For example, a shortage of vitamin B12 or probiotics, which help you to manufacture your own B12 in the gut. For others, it could be that wine you drink with dinner because wine is a potent drug mugger of B1 (thiamine), which protects your nerve coating. By a mile, the most common cause of neuropathy is diabetes.

Approximately half of all people with diabetes experience diabetic neuropathies, mainly in the hands and feet. Some doctors will tell you that maintaining healthy blood glucose will reverse neuropathy, but that’s not true. We know from the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial that even intensive glucose control is insufficient to control the risk of diabetic neuropathy.

It’s tough love but I need to say it: Uncontrolled neuropathy can cause a 25 percent higher cumulative risk of leg amputation. So gaining control is important for your independence. I’ve written about natural supplements for neuropathy in the past (articles are archived at suzycohen.com).

New research was published last March in Current Diabetes Reports, in which scientists confirmed that targeting inflammatory cytokines can help relieve diabetic neuropathy. Oftentimes, that bad gateway called NF Kappa B (NFKB) opens its floodgates, and spits out pro-inflammatory cytokines like COX-2 (Celebrex lowers this), nitric oxide synthase, lipoxygenase, TNF alpha and a lot of pain-causing interleukins (IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8).

The researchers reported that something as simple as salicylate therapy could help reduce some of these cytokines as well as circulating glucose, triglycerides, C reactive protein and free fatty acids. When you think of salicylates, please understand this is a broad group of compounds found naturally in the plant kingdom. Salicylate is the main ingredient in aspirin and other analgesics, both prescribed and over-the-counter. Salicylates include spearmint, peppermint (even in mint toothpaste) and are found in muscle rubs. White willow bark is an herb that is morphed and turned into aspirin.

They’re not right for everyone so please ask your doctor about salicylates for neuropathy. Also ask if you can have a blood test to evaluate some of the pro-inflammatory markers I noted above.

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