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Less Beer for Less Pain

A drink of alcohol a day can provide health benefits to some people, but it may be too much for those with diabetic neuropathy. "High levels of alcohol are toxic to nerves, especially nerves that are already injured," Kinsella says. Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. Kinsella advises no more than four drinks per week. 

Evening Primrose Oil and Diabetic Neuropathy

Extracted from the evening primrose plant, this oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which are important structural components of cell walls. Theoretically, supplementing the diet with evening primrose oil, which is available in pills, may boost the repair or regrowth of damaged nerves cells.

In two clinical trials, taking evening primrose oil orally improved nerve function somewhat in people with diabetic neuropathy. The risks of evening primrose oil are small, but they include possible increased bleeding in people who take daily aspirin or prescription blood thinners.

It can be necessary to take up to 12 capsules of primrose oil a day to see effects, which some people may find inconvenient. "I know this is out there as a suggested treatment," McLaughlin tells WebMD, "but I don't think there are sufficient studies to support its use."

Botanical Oils for Nerve Pain

Some studies have shown that applying botanical oils such as geranium oil can reduce the pain of postherpetic neuralgia. Other oils, such as lavender oil, have been shown to help relax people, which may also help take the mind off nerve pain.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid May Help Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

This potent antioxidant, also called thioctic acid, clears so-called free radicals from the body, potentially reducing nerve damage. In Germany it is used to treat nerve pain and damage from diabetes.

Alpha-lipoic acid given orally or intravenously (600-1,200 milligrams per day) seems to be effective at reducing nerve pain in people with diabetes. For some people, it may help reduce the symptoms of burning, numbness, and prickling in the feet.  

"Studies are mixed as to whether alpha-lipoic actually reverses any nerve damage," McLaughlin says.  

No major diabetes treatment group has yet endorsed alpha-lipoic acid.

Understanding Nerve Pain

See the common causes, symptoms, and treatments.
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