By PT Staff, published on July 1, 1998 - last reviewed on June 13, 2012
Q: My friend has diabetes and suffers from peripheral neuropathy. Heexperiences pain, burning, and numbness in his feet. Apparently, this is because the nerves in the extremities are dying. His doctors are about to put him on insulin. However, they also say that insulin shots may not help his feet at this point. Can nutrition help?
A: The dying nerves in your friend's feet are probably associated with damage from free radicals of oxygen. Free radicals are released when blood sugar is high, and they can harm the vascular system and the lining of nerves.
One nutrient that has been shown to repair free-radical damage is alpha lipoic acid (ALA), a vitamin-like antioxidant. ALA is easily absorbed, and studies show it seems to reduce insulin resistance, a factor in many cases of diabetes.
Alpha lipoic acid is currently used in Europe to treat many complications of diabetes. It might help your friend.
PHOTO (COLOR): Diabetes sufferers can toe the line by taking alpha lipoic acid, which reduces insulin resistance.