Not too long ago, researchers made an amazing discovery. They found that a simple nutrient can help those with spinal cord injuries. That alone is amazing, but it's quite possible this same breakthrough can help those who suffer from the pain of peripheral neuropathy as well.
As you may know, spinal cord injuries are devastating. They often result in permanent paralysis and many other health problems as well. The permanent aspect of the injuries has always been a scary part of a spinal cord injury. No one wants to be unable to move their arms or legs. But when you damage central nervous system neurons, they just don't heal very well.
Researchers have spent millions of dollars looking for a way to help reverse spinal cord damage. There have been a few breakthroughs. But so far, no one has figured out a way to heal these injuries. And while this new research hasn't completely solved this problem, the researchers say that this common vitamin may be able to promote what healing is possible. What's amazing is that it uses the same mechanism that could give your painful peripheral nerve injury some relief.
In this study, the researchers caused spinal cord injuries on rodents to see how the damage heals. They also wanted to know if they could accelerate the healing. They knew that folate can prevent neural tube defects in babies, so they decided to see if it would help nerve injuries.
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What they found surprised the researchers. They discovered that the more folate they gave the mice, the more it helped regrow the nerve fibers. Then they wanted to know why it worked. Here's what they discovered.
Injured nerve cells crave folate. In fact, the cells crave this nutrient so much, the researchers discovered that they produce surface cell receptors for folate. Once the nutrient fills those receptors, the cell transports it back into the nucleus. Inside the nucleus, it enables a process called methylation of the DNA, which activates gene expression. In the animals, the highest level of methylation occurred when they took the equivalent human dose of 5.6 mg for a 150-lb adult. This is a lot of folate, as the typical dose is about 500 mcg. But it will take mega-doses to overcome nerve damage. You'll want to talk to your doctor before taking large amounts of folate, as there are potential side effects.
Many of the B vitamins are good for your nerves. While folate helps the nerve heal, others help block the pain signal, so you can reduce the pain while they heal if you take them together.
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You'll need to get your folate from a separate source, as the dose needed is too large to include in this supplement. If you don't respond well to the folate, you could try the folic acid derivative Folapro. Many people see a better response to this particular supplement. Both Folapro and folate are widely available in health food stores and online.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.