July 1, 2011

Peripheral neuropathy’s connection to spine injuries – and how to treat both

Do you suffer from the intolerable pain of peripheral neuropathy or any peripheral nerve injury? If so, there’s new information about a common supplement that could give you significant relief. And it could help those with spine injuries as well.

As you may know, spinal cord injuries are devastating. Central nervous system neurons just don’t readily heal. But researchers recently found out that this common vitamin may promote what healing is possible. And it’s the same mechanism that could give your painful peripheral nerve injury some relief.

Scientists inflicted spinal cord injuries on rodents to see how the damage heals. They also wanted to know if they could accelerate the healing. Knowing they can prevent neural tube defects in babies with folate, they decided to see if it would help nerve injuries.

They found that the more folate they gave the animals, the more regrowth of nerve fibers (i.e., axons) they saw. So, they sought to find out why.

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Turns out that injured nerve cells produce surface cell receptors for folate. The vitamin fits into the receptors like a key in a lock. It’s then transported into the nucleus where it enables a process called methylation of the DNA. This process activates gene expression. In the animals, methylation peaked at an equivalent human dose of 5.6 mg (for a 150-lb adult). Of course, animal needs may not reflect human metabolism. But it can serve as a rough guide.

Peripheral nerves are axons of nerve cells. It’s logical that folate might help out these nerves as well. If you have had spinal trauma, or are suffering from peripheral neuropathy, consider folate. Folic acid is the most common form of the vitamin. But some people don’t respond well to it due to subtle genetic anomalies. If you don’t respond well to it, the folic acid derivative Folapro may be a better alternative. Both nutrients are widely available in health food stores and online.


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