Will B12 and Alpha Lipoic Acid Get Me Back to Dancing Sooner?

Last week I wrote about diabetic neuropathy… and received quite a few comments from readers and the various communities I belong to. All were about B12 and/or Alpha Lipoic Acid. One person even commented about the veracity of articles about these two and he’s right; science is constantly discovering new information that may contradict what we think we already know.

For now, I’m going to stick to what we think we already know. My experience was that I took Alpha Lipoic Acid for years and barely felt the neuropathy. Whoops! There I go again, plunging right in. Okay, time to back up.

Does anyone remember what neuropathy is? Young lady in the back of the room, thank you for raising your hand. According to The Foundation for Pheripheral Neuropathy at https://www.foundationforpn.org/what-is-peripheral-neuropathy/causes/,

“There are many causes of peripheral neuropathy, including diabetes, chemo-induced neuropathy, hereditary disorders, inflammatory infections, auto-immune diseases, protein abnormalities, exposure to toxic chemicals (toxic neuropathy), poor nutrition, kidney failure, chronic alcoholism, and certain medications – especially those used to treat cancer and HIV/AIDS. In some cases, however, even with extensive evaluation, the causes of peripheral neuropathy in some people remain unknown – this is called idiopathic neuropathy.”

Hmmm, that deals more with the causes. Let’s try again. Sweetheart? (My husband has a question.) Yes, I wondered about the term ‘peripheral,’ too. I don’t really know, but WebMD at https://www.webmd.com/brain/understanding-peripheral-neuropathy-basics#1 does:

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

The name of the condition tells you a bit about what it is:

Peripheral: Beyond (in this case, beyond the brain and the spinal cord.)
Neuro-: Related to the nerves
-pathy: Disease

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the conditions that result when nerves that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body are damaged or diseased.

The peripheral nerves make up an intricate network that connects the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, skin, and internal organs. Peripheral nerves come out of the spinal cord and are arranged along lines in the body called dermatomes. Typically, damage to a nerve will affect one or more dermatomes, which can be tracked to specific areas of the body. Damage to these nerves interrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body and can impair muscle movement, prevent normal sensation in the arms and legs, and cause pain.”

Oh, I think I understand better why I had a brain scan last week. I have the results, but need help interpreting them. Good thing I have an appointment at the Research Institute tomorrow.

I don’t know about you, but I’m learning a lot from today’s blog. Hold on, my neighbor has a question about what Alpha Lipoic Acid is supposed to do for peripheral neuropathy in the first place. Let’s find out. Here’s what MedicalNewsToday at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323738.php has to say:

“Alpha-lipoic acid is an organic compound in the body that acts as a potent antioxidant. It may have several health benefits.

While the body produces alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) naturally, a person can boost their levels by making suitable dietary choices, taking supplements, or both.

Supplementing with ALA is becoming increasingly popular, as some people believe that it may help with weight loss, diabetes, memory loss, skin health, and other health conditions.

In this article, learn about its effectiveness, possible benefits, and side effects.

What is ALA?

People can increase their ALA levels by taking supplements.

ALA is present within mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of the cells.

ALA is crucial for digestion, absorption, and the creation of energy. It helps enzymes turn nutrients into energy. It also has antioxidant properties.

Since humans can only produce ALA in small amounts, many people turn to supplements to increase their intake.

And now I know why I cannot take it. As a person being treated for pancreatic cancer (or any kind of cancer you may be treated for), antioxidants are the last thing I want to put in my body. I’ll explain, Cuz.

OncologyNutrition.Org at https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/eating-well-when-unwell/antioxidant-supplements-safe-during-therapy offers this information. Mind you, this is only part of what I read on this site, so you may want to read the entire article for yourself.

“…some studies indicate that taking antioxidant supplements may interfere with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, by reducing their effectiveness. It is possible that antioxidants may protect tumor cells, in addition to healthy cells, from the oxidative damage intentionally caused by conventional treatments. This, in turn, may reduce the effectiveness of the treatments ….”

Too bad for me. Well, maybe B12??? Thanks for that URL, daughter. We’ll look at it right now. I’m comfortable with the MayoClinic at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-neuropathy/in-depth/diabetic-neuropathy-and-dietary-supplements/art-20095406‘s information.

“The jury is still out on whether or not taking vitamin B-12 supplements can help treat diabetic neuropathy. Some small studies have shown a lessening of pain and other abnormal sensations. But, recent reviews of all of the research suggest that there’s no significant benefit in taking B-12 supplements for diabetic neuropathy for people without a deficiency of the vitamin.”

My labs have never shown any vitamin B deficiencies, but I think it may be more important to find out if B12 affects chemotherapy or radiation… or vice versa. I stumbled across this information during my search. It’s from CancerResearchUK.org at https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative-therapies/individual-therapies/vitamins-diet-supplements .

“Some dietary supplements can cause skin sensitivity and severe reactions when taken during radiotherapy treatment. 

Some vitamins or minerals could interfere with how well cancer drugs work. Antioxidant supplements such as co enzyme Q10, selenium and the vitamins A, C and E can help to prevent cell damage. So some doctors think this might stop chemotherapy working well. 

Get advice from your doctor, specialist nurse, or dietitian if you want to take supplements and are having any kind of cancer treatment.“

Notice B12 is not an antioxidant, but considering I’ll be starting radiation (another term for radiotherapy) this week, I would like to avoid the possibility of either a ‘severe reaction’ or ‘skin sensitivity.’

Looks like both Alpha Lipoic Acid and B12 are out for me as a cancer patient. Do talk to your doctor about both if you are not a cancer patient and are experiencing peripheral neuropathy. Thank you all for participating in this inquiry.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

Published in: on July 1, 2019 at 9:18 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Gail, reading your blogs are so very helpful, give me comfort, and make me feel like I am not so alone in this journey. Though every subject doesn’t necessarily relate to me, I read them all. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your passion and very personal experiences in educating the public on this growing disease. I too hope we will find more effective treatments for CKD sooner than later. Being diagnosed 10 years ago with a more uncommon form of CKD, FSG, I am hopeful that I will qualify for a clinical study being done in Phoenix that I was just screened for last week. Prior studies done on the drug have been promising so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I wish you nothing but the best in your journey and keep you in my prayers. You are a true inspiration! Janice

    • Thank you, Janice. You just made my day. I’m sitting in the Cancer Research Institute receiving both a blood and a platelet transfusion; yet I was so thrilled with your comment that I immediately showed it to my daughter. May you have as much success with your clinical trial as I’ve had with mine… and soon.


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