Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Some people with peripheral neuropathy try complementary and alternative treatments for relief of their symptoms. Although researchers haven't studied these techniques as thoroughly as they have most medications, the following therapies have shown some promise:

  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into various points on your body. Acupuncture may reduce symptoms in people with peripheral neuropathy.

    However, you may need multiple acupuncture sessions before you notice improvement. Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a certified practitioner using sterile needles.

  • Alpha-lipoic acid. Used as a treatment for peripheral neuropathy in Europe for years, this antioxidant may help reduce the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

    Discuss the use of alpha-lipoic acid with your doctor before using it because alpha-lipoic acid may affect your blood sugar levels. Other side effects may include stomach upset and skin rash.

  • Biofeedback. Biofeedback may help reduce your stress and cope with pain you may experience from peripheral neuropathy. During a biofeedback session, the therapist applies electrical sensors to different parts of your body to monitor your body's physiological response to your peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

    The biofeedback device then teaches you how your body responds using cues, such as a beeping sound or flashing lights. This feedback can help you associate your body's response with certain physical functions.

    Once you begin to recognize your body's responses, you can learn ways to lessen the reaction through certain techniques, such as relaxation or guided imagery.

  • Herbs. Certain herbs, including curcumin, geranium oil and evening primrose oil, may help reduce neuropathy pain in people with diabetes. Also, some herbs interact with medications, and it's important to discuss any herbs you may take with your doctor.
  • Amino acids. Amino acids, such as acetyl-L-carnitine, may help improve peripheral neuropathy in people who have undergone chemotherapy and in people with diabetes. However, acetyl-L-carnitine may cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Researchers are studying the effects of acetyl-L-carnitine in people with peripheral neuropathy.
  • Fish oil. Taking fish oil supplements, which have omega-3 fatty acids, may help reduce inflammation, improve blood flow and improve neuropathy symptoms in people with diabetes. Check with your doctor before taking fish oil supplements if you're taking anti-clotting medications.
Aug. 13, 2013

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.