Improving Neuropathy With Functional Medicine and Genetics
The current approach for the treatment of neuropathy has not been very successful. There are millions of people that suffer with this condition all across this country. There are several reasons for this failure in part because there are so many causes of neuropathy and in part because the treatment is not directed towards the whole body. The field of medicine addresses symptoms, diagnosing the problem and then prescribing a medication that hopefully will suppress the symptoms.
The cause is rarely found or for that matter rarely searched for. Sure the diabetic or chemo induced neuropathy are relatively easy to diagnose. What is required is a whole body approach. A cure for neuropathy will never be found if we continue with our current approach.
A whole body approach for example for the diabetic neuropathy would be to prescribe dietary guidelines to normalize the HbA1c or the blood sugar levels. Exercise would be prescribed to improve the insulin sensitivity. Supplementation would be recommended to assist in the reduction of inflammation, repairing of the cell and nerves, improve digestion and assimilation, detoxification and elimination.
This approach would be slightly different and personalized for that individual dependent upon their causes, lab markers and of course their genetics.
Genetics is proving to be a game changer when working with chronic patients. It allows us to interpret potential vulnerabilities in methylation, (the utilization of B vitamins and Folate), detoxification, ability to handle chemical toxicity or pesticides, production of choline a necessary component in the myelin, and the body’s ability to produce glutathione the major antioxidant.
When I evaluate the root causes of all chronic issues including neuropathy I always look at these 6 factors: Inflammation, Methylation, Mitochondrial Health, Detoxification, Genetics and Autophagy.
- Inflammation: When our immune system is more over active producing more cytokines and inflammatory markers. There are a lot of reasons for this including the toxic environment we live in and the exposure of an enormous amount of chemicals, molds, and heavy metals. The processed foods we eat are loaded with preservatives, chemicals creating a very unhealthy environment in our gut and adversely affecting our ability to digest, absorb and assimilate our food.
- Methylation: This is our ability to convert green leafy vegetables into a useable form of folate and combine and manufacture enough B12 to allow us to detoxify, make neurotransmitters and produce anti-oxidants. Genetic markers for this are the MTHR, MTRR, MTHFD, MTR, COMT, NDUF as well as several others.
- Mitochondrial Health: The mitochondria are the battery of the cell. It provides energy in the form of ATP. If there is not enough energy production the body will have difficulty performing its necessary functions and fatigue or lack of endurance will set in. This creates another set of problems within the cell with regards to the sodium and potassium pump and the exchange of key minerals. Ultimately, this affects the frequency of firing of the nerve and the slightest impulse can cause this nerve to be activated.
- Detoxification: It is important to address the ability to detoxify properly in the liver and its ability to convert these toxins to a water-soluble form. The interaction with digestive enzymes and bile is also important when looking at detoxification. Glutathione is our body’s major antioxidant and if we can see vulnerabilities in our ability to produce glutathione and help with the removal of chemicals and heavy metals. The PON1 gene is extremely common snp that I clinically see in practice. The function is the removal of pesticides in the body. Also, the CYP1 and CYP2 genes need to be closely looked at. This is our cytochrome P450 system, which helps with the conjugation of the toxins and the conversion to the water-soluble form.
- Genetics: The role of genetics has to be taken into consideration. The specific vulnerabilities each of us has and the expression of these genes. There are several important genes to consider. MTHFR C677t and A1298c and its effects on methylation and the ability to produce neurotransmitter. The CYP1 and CYP2 genes and detoxification. We want to take a close look at the NDUF genes and its impact on the mitochondria. NOS, SOD and GSTM1 for oxidative stress and glutathione production. The goal is to assess the individual for potential vulnerabilities and support the body to minimize of eliminate the expression of those genes.
- Autophagy: This is the ability of cell to clean itself from the debris. In other words if the trash keeps building up how can the cell or for that matter the mitochondria function properly. The discovery of this process was recent and was so significant that it won the medical Nobel Prize. It has been linked to several of the chronic degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
With all chronic disease including Peripheral Neuropathy these six areas must be addressed along with diet and lifestyle changes.
Anti-inflammatory or Nutrient Dense Food Program
Eliminate or Reduce Exposure to Toxins
Treatments and therapies are much more effective when they are personalized to that individuals particular problem. Is it methylation, mitochondrial dysfunction? I will say methylation will directly affect the mitochondria as well as detoxification.
When the mitochondria are affected, remember this is the battery; the energy of the cell, the first place it will affect is the brain and nervous system. It is our most energy dependent system in the body. The second place it will affect is the immune system and then finally the muscular system.
Dependent on what genetic snps we have there are certain supplements that help to restore mitochondrial health. It could be NADH, D-ribose, COQ10, Ubiquinol, Magnesium, Carnitine or Alpha Lipoic Acid.
The solution is slightly different for everyone and there is no one size fits all. We have to determine which of these or a combination of these 6 factors are affected and provide support nutritionally along with the lifestyle factors mentioned above. I strongly believe that with the right approach a cure could be found for those that suffer with Peripheral Neuropathy.
I am taking the proceeds from my book “Understanding, Managing and Improving Your Peripheral Neuropathy,” which can be purchased on Amazon, and have begun to do research on genetics and neuropathy.
The Functional Medicine Doctor is the best qualified to assist with the needs of the chronic patient.
Dr. Veselak is a graduate of the Functional Medicine University and has extensively studied in post -graduate courses Genetics and Functional Neurology.
In our clinic we specialize in Chronic Degenerative Conditions including Peripheral Neuropathy.
We consult with individuals from all over the world. If you have interest in this please email Dr. Veselak at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Call our office for an appointment. 805 482-0723