Discover the top four nerve regeneration supplements that effectively repair nerve damage. Our comprehensive guide provides valuable insights into professional solutions for restoring nerve health and promoting recovery.
Peripheral Nerve Injuries and Oral Supplementation
There are many different types of peripheral nerve injuries that we do treat at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic. They include a variety of different conditions, such as:
Sciatica: radiculopathy (or radiculitis). This is usually stemming from a spine condition from arthritis, or disc herniations irritating a nerve as it exits the spine.
General peripheral neuropathy: We typically don’t treat peripheral neuropathy directly, but we may treat it as an adjunct to metabolic conditions such as diabetes or other conditions that are more systemic. However, some of the supplements we discuss today could potentially help this condition.
Compressive neuropathies: These fall under the category of things like carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome, peroneal nerve injuries, and Baxter’s neuropathy.
Crush injuries: These typically result from fractures and major traumas. Common nerves affected by this are the tibial nerve, radial nerve, and intercostal nerves that run adjacent to the ribs and can be damaged in a rib fracture.
We can treat all of these with advanced regenerative orthobiologics, such as platelet-rich plasma via a nerve hydro-dissection. However, there may be a simpler option to help recover from these injuries, such as supplementation, which we’ll be discussing in this article.
Looking at traditional medicine for peripheral nerve injuries, there are myriad treatment options. These include non-surgical options such as medications; physical therapy; phytochemicals, which are also known as oral supplementation – i.e. vitamins and minerals; a host of surgical options; as well as regenerative medicine options that we do here at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic.
Limitations of Medications for Nerve Injuries
Let’s talk about medications themselves. Medications mask the symptoms of nerve injuries. They can help reduce symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and pain.
The problem with a lot of these medications is that they don’t help the underlying cause. They do not help repair the nerve, and in the long term, some of these medicines can actually be detrimental to the nerves. So, while medications help in the short term, in the long term they are not really helping the overall condition.
What Are Phytochemicals?
Phytochemicals are biologically active compounds found in plants. They have been the subject of a lot of research due to their potential health benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties, among others. Regarding nerve recovery, several phytochemicals have been studied for their potential neuroprotective and neuroregenerative effects.
Some promising results have been observed, but it’s essential to understand the scope and limitations of the current research.
Neuroprotection: Phytochemicals like flavonoids, curcumin (from turmeric), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG, from green tea) have been shown in various studies to provide neuroprotective effects. These effects are often attributed to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can counteract oxidative stress and inflammation, both implicated in many neurodegenerative conditions.
Nerve growth promotion: Certain phytochemicals might promote nerve growth. For instance, studies have suggested that ginsenosides from ginseng can promote the regeneration of nerve fibers. Similarly, curcumin and other compounds have been shown to stimulate the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein essential for nerve growth and function.
Modulation of neurotransmitters: Some phytochemicals can influence the levels or activity of neurotransmitters, which play a crucial role in nerve signaling. For instance, compounds like resveratrol have been suggested to modulate the activity of neurotransmitters, potentially leading to neuroprotective effects.
However, there are several caveats and considerations:
Dosage and bioavailability: Often, the concentrations of phytochemicals used in lab studies are much higher than can be achieved through a regular diet. Furthermore, many phytochemicals have low bioavailability, meaning they aren’t readily absorbed and utilized by the body.
Human trials: While some phytochemicals have shown promise in cell cultures and animal models, human trials are essential to validate these findings. Many compounds that show promise in preliminary studies don’t necessarily translate to effective treatments in humans.
Potential interactions: Phytochemicals can interact with medications or other compounds in the body. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using any phytochemicals, especially in concentrated forms, for therapeutic purposes.
Here are some major classes of phytochemicals with examples:
Flavonoids: A large group of polyphenols that have antioxidant properties. Examples include:
Quercetin (found in onions, apples, and berries)
Catechins (found in green tea)
Anthocyanins (found in berries, grapes, and other red-blue fruits)
Carotenoids: Pigmented compounds that are converted into vitamin A in the body. Examples include:
Beta-carotene (found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach)
Lutein (found in spinach, kale, and corn)
Lycopene (found in tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit)
Glucosinolates: Found mainly in cruciferous vegetables, these compounds have potential anti-cancer properties.
Examples of foods include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
Saponins: Found in beans and other legumes, they have antioxidant and immune-boosting properties.
Lignans: Present in seeds, particularly flaxseeds, and also in grains and vegetables. They have antioxidant properties.
Tannins: Found in tea, coffee, and some fruits, these polyphenols have antioxidant properties.
Phytosterols: Found in plant cell membranes, they can help lower cholesterol absorption. Examples include:
Beta-sitosterol (found in many plants, including nuts and seeds)
Alkaloids: Compounds that can affect the nervous system. Examples include:
Capsaicin (found in chili peppers)
Caffeine (found in coffee, tea, and cacao)
Terpenes: A diverse class that includes essential oils and many other compounds.
Limone (found in citrus peels)
Menthol (found in mint plants)
Saponins: These are found in beans and certain other foods and are known for their foam-forming properties.
Curcuminoids: Derived from turmeric, they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin is the most well-known example.
Resveratrol: A polyphenol found in grapes, berries, peanuts, and red wine. It has antioxidant and potential anti-aging properties.
Organosulfur compounds: Found in garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables. Examples include:
Allicin (in garlic)
Isoflavones: A type of phytoestrogen mainly found in soy products.
Examples include genistein and daidzein.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there are thousands of phytochemicals with diverse properties and functions. Many of them work synergistically, which means that eating a variety of whole-plant foods can offer benefits greater than consuming any single phytonutrient in isolation.
Different Supplements for Nerve Regeneration
Here we’ll explain about:
Lipoic acid: alpha-lipoic (ALA) and gamma-lipoic acid (GLA)
B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B12)
Antioxidants – melatonin, vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine(NAC), and L-carnitine
We’re going to take a deep dive into a lot of these supplements from a research standpoint and see how much evidence is there to treat peripheral nerve injuries to accelerate and assist the recovery.
1. Lipoic Acid
If we look at some animal studies researching lipoic acid effects on sciatic nerve injuries in those animal models, they found that these results suggestedthat ALA is a neuroprotective agent for peripheral nerve injuries, and it also promotes peripheral nerve regeneration, being anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic (meaning they stop the cells from dying).
Additional animal models also show that ALA treatments produce significant improvements in sciatic function index values with non-significant improvements in electromyography compared to B12 treatments, meaning function improved greatly with ALA compared to vitamin B12. But ALA and B12 showed about the same improvement from an electrophysiological function standpoint.(2)
Then when they actually looked at the histopathology, meaning they looked in a microscope to see the structural components of the nerve, ALA was more relevant in axonal structure recovery in comparison to B12. That is, it improved the swelling around the nerve, as well as the outer coating around the nerve called the myelin.
These studies showed that both types of lipoic acid, ALA and GLA, induced antioxidant protective actions, reduced inflammation, promoted neuroregeneration, and decreased patients’ pain.
When they looked at the function of the nerve, electromyography showed significant improvement with ALA and GLA, compared to just an overall multivitamin, which didn’t show much improvement.
So ALA and GLA seemed to be very significant for assisting in nerve regeneration as well as being very neuroprotective.
2. B Vitamins
There are a host of B vitamins, and they act as coenzymes in substantial fractions of enzymatic processes and play a key role in interactions for a majority of cellular functions. They are thus important for almost every different type of function in the body, including the nervous system.
If we look at some of these complex pathways, B12 is already critical for the entire pathway.
Now, you don’t need to really know what this pathway is. This is just how your body generates energy to help the repair, and B vitamins help, along the way, in multiple different pathways. We can see that B vitamins are coenzymes, meaning they assist the function of your body’s cellular processes.
So all these vitamins are critical in the entire process of accelerating regeneration.
3. Ubiquinone (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is an antioxidant with bioenergetic and anti-inflammatory properties that protects the cells against apoptosis of neurons, “apoptosis” meaning cellular death. So, it helps protect cells from dying.
CoQ10 works as an essential cofactor in oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria. Mitochondria are the units of your cellular membranes that actually produce energy. They help in the function of the cellular membranes, as well as the mitochondrial function to increase your oxidative protective functions.
This research study (2) working on Type 2 diabetes with peripheral neuropathy and CoQ10 showed superior bioavailability in the form of ubiquinol. (1-3)
If you’re looking for supplementation, you really want ubiquinol in preference to ubiquinone, because it will have greater viability, meaning it can help your peripheral neuropathy and your body will absorb it and use it.
4. Other Antioxidants
Antioxidants basically help with all the free radicals that can damage your body’s cellular functions, such as your mitochondrial function. Mitochondria is critically important in your overall function.
Vitamin C: Essential for developing the physiological function of the nervous system, vitamin C is critical for the fully functioning neurologic system as we age.
Melatonin: Melatonin has been shown to have very neuroprotective effects on injured neurons, anti-inflammatory effects at the injury site, scar-reducing effects (reducing some of the scar tissue forming from an injury), as well as helping to proliferate stem cells and stimulating axonal regeneration.
Acetylcysteine (NAC): NAC is very neuroprotective as well as helpful in synthesizing glutathione, which is an antioxidant free radical scavenger, meaning it helps rid the body of bad chemicals (free radicals) that build up in the tissue.
These compounds help synthesize the things that gobble up those free radicals, so they inhibit their actions and protect your body’s membranes as well as your mitochondrial function.
Acetyl-L-carnitine: Acetyl-L-carnitine has also been shown to be a cellular protectant for free radicals.
How Much of These Nerve Supplements Should You Take?
Let’s talk about how much of these you should be taking.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet on all the different vitamins you should be taking, as well as some upper limits and warnings about some of these vitamins you don’t want to take too much of. Before you take any of these vitamins, always make sure you discuss these with your physician to make sure there’s no interaction with any current medications you’re taking.
Complementary Treatments for Nerve Regeneration
While most small injuries can be recovered with simple supplementation and physical therapy to help regain function, with some injuries, symptoms persist, and recovery on its own can be stalled, leaving patients with persistent pain and limitations.
At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, we have been treating peripheral nerve injuries for over a decade and continue to advance the capabilities of orthobiologics in the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries. Combined with precision imaging guidance, concentrated healing growth factors can assist in accelerating your nerve recovery.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)
PRP is a therapeutic approach that utilizes a patient’s own blood components to promote tissue repair and regeneration. PRP is primarily composed of concentrated platelets suspended in a small volume of plasma. Platelets release growth factors and other molecules involved in the healing process.
When discussing nerve recovery, PRP has been explored as a potential treatment for various nerve injuries and neuropathic conditions. Here’s an overview of the possible mechanisms and applications of PRP in nerve recovery.
Mechanisms of action:
Growth factor release: Platelets release numerous growth factors, such as nerve growth factor (NGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). These growth factors can stimulate cell proliferation, enhance nerve regeneration, and improve blood supply to the injured site.
Anti-inflammatory effects: PRP can modulate the inflammatory response, reducing excessive inflammation that might hinder nerve recovery.
Extracellular matrix production: PRP can stimulate the synthesis of the extracellular matrix, providing a conducive environment for nerve growth and regeneration.
Applications in Nerve Recovery:
Chronic nerve pain: PRP has been primarily used to address chronic nerve pain conditions. By targeting nerves causing pain and reducing inflammation, it may provide relief for patients.
Example: Dr. Markle has developed a technique that is helping patients with chronic nerve pain such as trigeminal neuralgia.
Peripheral Nerve Injuries/Entrapments:
PRP has been studied in the context of peripheral nerve injuries. When applied to the site of injury, PRP can potentially accelerate nerve regeneration and improve functional recovery. For conditions where nerves are compressed or “entrapped” within tissues, the hydrodissection effect of PRP can help release the nerve, decreasing irritation and pain.
Nerve Grafts: In cases where nerve grafts are needed (e.g. significant gaps in injured nerves), PRP can be applied to enhance the integration of the graft and promote faster nerve regeneration across the graft.
Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): Some practitioners use PRP as part of a multimodal treatment approach for conditions like CRPS, which is a complex pain syndrome.
Neuropathies: PRP has been explored as a potential treatment for neuropathic conditions, such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, by aiming to improve nerve function and reduce symptoms like pain.
PRP can be applied following surgeries that pose a risk to nerve integrity, aiming to enhance nerve recovery and reduce complications.
Challenges and Considerations:
Varied PRP preparations: Not all PRP preparations are the same. The concentration of platelets, presence of white blood cells, and activation method can vary, potentially leading to different therapeutic effects.
Clinical evidence: While preclinical (mostly animal-based) studies have shown promise, high-quality human clinical trials are still needed to establish the efficacy of PRP in nerve recovery for various conditions.
Safety: PRP is generally considered safe since it’s autologous (derived from the patient).
Neuroprolotherapy, commonly referred to as neuroprolo, perineural injection treatment, or simply “nerve hydrodissection,” is an intervention aimed at treating chronic pain conditions. It often involves the injection of a dextrose solution (or other irritants) near nerve sites associated with pain.
The treatment draws inspiration from prolotherapy, which has historically been used to treat musculoskeletal pain by promoting tissue repair through inflammation. While not as successful as PRP, in mild conditions this is sometimes used as an alternative injectate to PRP.
Here’s how neuroprolotherapy is approached in the context of nerve injuries:
Mechanism of Action:
Anti-inflammatory effect: Dextrose and other solutions used in neuroprolotherapy may have an anti-inflammatory effect on nerves, which can help decrease nerve pain.
When the solution is injected, it can create a separation between the nerve and the surrounding tissue, reducing mechanical compression and irritation.
The injection solution might stimulate the body’s natural healing processes, although the exact mechanism isn’t fully understood.
Consulting a Medical Expert Is Important
Our experts have been utilizing the healing properties of both platelets and dextrose to help various nerve conditions. If you have been dealing with chronic or acute nerve issues and are looking for a non-invasive treatment, contact us today to get set up with one of our experts to discuss more.
Restore Optimal Nerve Health With Centeno-Schultz
Dr. Markle is an interventional orthopedics doctor with expertise in ortho-regenerative medicine. Over the years, he has developed techniques to treat previously difficult and debilitating conditions such as pudendal neuralgia and trigeminal neuralgia.
While supplementations are simple and can be effective, if they fail to provide significant relief, we have multiple treatment options and non-surgical options that can help focus on regenerating the nerves as well as improving your pain and function.
Explore our non-surgical options for nerve regeneration and pain relief. Let us help you improve your quality of life. Request an appointment today!
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate in orthopedics. He is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with a subspecialty of pain medicine through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Centeno is one of the few physicians in the world with extensive experience in the culture expansion of and clinical use of adult bone marrow concentrate to treat orthopedic injuries. His clinic incorporates a variety of revolutionary pain management techniques to bring its broad patient base relief and results. Dr. Centeno treats patients from all over the US who…
John R. Schultz M.D. is a national expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate for orthopedic injuries. He is board certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and underwent fellowship training in both. Dr. Schultz has extensive experience with same day as well as culture expanded bone marrow concentrate and sees patients at the CSC Broomfield, Colorado Clinic, as well the Regenexx Clinic in Grand Cayman. Dr. Schultz emphasis is on the evaluation and treatment of thoracic and cervical disc, facet, nerve, and ligament injuries including the non-surgical treatment of Craniocervical instability (CCI). Dr. Schultz trained at George Washington School of…
Dr. Pitts is originally from Chicago, IL but is a medical graduate of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, TN. After Vanderbilt, he completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. The focus of PM&R is the restoration of function and quality of life. In residency, he gained much experience in musculoskeletal medicine, rehabilitation, spine, and sports medicine along with some regenerative medicine. He also gained significant experience in fluoroscopically guided spinal procedures and peripheral injections. However, Dr. Pitts wanted to broaden his skills and treatment options beyond the current typical standards of care.
Post-residency, Dr. Markle was selected to the Interventional Orthopedic Fellowship program at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic. During his fellowship, he gained significant experience in the new field of Interventional Orthopedics and regenerative medicine, honing his skills in advanced injection techniques into the spine and joints treating patients with autologous, bone marrow concentrate and platelet solutions. Dr. Markle then accepted a full-time attending physician position at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, where he both treats patients and trains Interventional Orthopedics fellows. Dr. Markle is an active member of the Interventional Orthopedic Foundation and serves as a course instructor, where he trains physicians from around the world.
Dr. Money is an Indiana native who now proudly calls Colorado home. He attended medical school at Kansas City University and then returned to Indiana to complete a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program at Indiana University, where he was trained on non-surgical methods to improve health and function as well as rehabilitative care following trauma, stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, etc. Dr. Money has been following the ideology behind Centeno-Schultz Clinic and Regenexx since he was in medical school, as he believed there had to be a better way to care for patients than the status quo. The human body has incredible healing capabilities…
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Horasanli B, Hasturk AE, Arikan M, Togral G, Helvacioglu F, Dagdeviren A, Mut S, Harman F, Argun G. Comparative evaluation of the electrophysiological, functional and ultrastructural effects of alpha lipoic acid and cyanocobalamin administration in a rat model of sciatic nerve injury. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2017 Sep 22;30(5):967-974. doi: 10.3233/BMR-150386. PMID: 28968230.
Notarnicola A, Maccagnano G, Tafuri S, Fiore A, Pesce V, Moretti B. Comparison of shock wave therapy and nutraceutical composed of Echinacea angustifolia, alpha lipoic acid, conjugated linoleic acid and quercetin (perinerv) in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2015 Jun;28(2):256-62. doi: 10.1177/0394632015584501. Epub 2015 May 7. PMID: 25953494.
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