Fish oil is becoming a treatment solution for many people struggling with neuropathy. The healthy omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil hold a myriad of benefits for the body and brain.
What Causes Nerve Damage?
Nerve damage occurs when there is a disruption between the brain’s signals to the nerves and vice versa. There are many things that can harm the nerves, from physical accidents to underlying diseases. Humans actually have three primary types of nerves that help to keep the body and brain healthy.
The autonomic nerves control many of the functions humans do not think about throughout their day. These include heart rate, digestive functions, blood pressure, and body temperature.
Motor nerves transmit information from the brain or spinal cord to muscles in the body. As the name suggests, they control movements such as raising an arm or walking.
Sensory nerves are responsible for telling the brain when the sense of touch is involved. For instance, when a person touches an object, sensory nerves come into play.
Clearly, nerves are a crucial part of the human body, but they do not always perform as well as they are supposed to. Millions of people struggle with nerve damage, also known as neuropathy.
Moreover, half of the people who have diabetes also suffer from nerve damage. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of nerve damage.
It affects the peripheral nerves, which are responsible for dozens of the motor and sensory nerves. The peripheral nervous system works together with the central nervous system to regulate the brain’s (and thus, the body’s) activity.
Treating Nerve Damage
Currently, there is no cure for nerve damage or neuropathy. Lifestyle changes can help ease neuropathy symptoms. The burning, weakness, and tingling sensations that people with neuropathy feel can come at any moment.
The ensuing discomfort can disrupt sleep and overall quality of life. For people with diabetes, neuropathy is another obstacle that they must overcome in their day to day life. Since diabetic neuropathy is so widespread in the country, there are many studies and projects surrounding it.
The nerve damage that people with diabetes experience is usually a byproduct of diabetes itself. Along with unstable blood sugar levels and high blood pressure, neuropathy is a typical complaint they have. There are medications to help lower blood pressure, and diet and exercise can help keep blood sugar stable.
Yet, these individuals do not usually take medication for their neuropathy because there are not any drugs specifically for it. Increasing research is showing that a supplement may be able to help ease symptoms or even treat them altogether.
Healthy Fats and Diabetes
Omega-3 fat, also known as alpha-lipoic acid or ALA, is one of the healthiest fats for humans. The easiest and most abundant place to find this fat is in certain species of fish. It is also in nuts and seeds and is essential for brain health.
Omega-3s play a role in several molecular paths in the body. They can change the chemical makeup of cell membranes and interact with certain proteins. Omega-3s also help with the regulation of gene distribution. They communicate with receptors in the brain and may even stave off dementia.
Effects on Blood Glucose
For individuals with diabetes, omega-3 fats can be a huge benefactor. Several studies show that omega-3s have a positive effect on blood glucose levels. In fact, these fatty acids can help reverse glucose sensitivity and improve fatty liver disease. They release molecules that can protect cells and nerves.
One of these molecule types is called resolvins. They have anti-inflammatory properties and improve nerve density. Moreover, scientists recognize resolvins’ ability to protect brain health and neurological functioning. Resolvins improve the transmission of sensory signals to the brain.
Antioxidant Benefits & Aiding Nerve Repair
Another helpful molecule from omega-3s is neuroprotectin D1. Its primary function is to aid in brain signaling. Neuroprotectin D1 has properties that are similar to resolvins, including antioxidant benefits. Neuroprotectin D1 promotes the growth of neuron cells too, another beneficial aspect for people with nerve damage.
Scientists know that omega-3 fats are beneficial for other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and depression. Now, there is more evidence to suggest these fatty acids can aid in nerve repair or regeneration.
Can Fish Oil Help Reverse Diabetic Neuropathy?
One American Physiology Society study found that the omega-3s in fish oil restored nerves in mice with diabetes. The study included mice with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The results showed that daily intake of resolvins reversed the effects of diabetic neuropathy. It also treated and resolved some symptoms of fatty liver disease and slowed sensory nerve loss in the eyes and skin.
One of the most promising results from this study was the finding that resolvin D1 increased the speed of nerve conduction. After six weeks, the resolvins corrected the sensory nerve conduction of treated mice.
Furthermore, the resolvins slowed down any changes in the density of nerves in the study’s mice. Beyond six weeks, the neuron cell growth was still apparent.
Fish Oil Benefits
Researchers have been studying the effects of omega-3s from fish oil for years. They found that these fats help people reduce the amount of fat in the blood, as well as obtain a healthy heart rate. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids positively affect heart health, regulating circulation and easing inflammation.
They also work to treat the metabolic effects of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The resolvin D1 in fish oil fights inflammation while also boosting nerve growth. This makes fish oil a prime choice for people with diabetes who struggle with neuropathy. One study even found that combining fish oil with aspirin can increase the effects of resolvin D1.
Backed By Medical Professionals
Medical professionals already know that a diet rich in fat and low in carbohydrates is beneficial for individuals with diabetes. Fish oil fits the bill perfectly because it supplies healthy fats and contains beneficial molecules for neuropathy.
The latest advancements and findings in fish oil’s effects on nerves intrigue doctors and researchers specializing in diabetes. Now they are considering anti-inflammatory approaches to treating neuropathy brought on by diabetes.
Another reason experts are getting behind fish oil is that it is a supplement that most doctors consider safe for a wide range of patients. It is affordable, easy to access, and combines well with other medications.
Individuals might take a variety of drugs to stimulate insulin release, limit glucose from leaving the liver, and improve insulin sensitivity. Fish oil is something that people can fit into their daily routine, so it is a viable option for many patients.
Fish Oil’s Promising Potential
The benefits of fish oil do not end there. The anti-inflammatory properties of it can go a long way. For instance, fish oil’s omega-3s can help improve liver function. Research shows that the resolvins and neuroprotectin D1 work to protect the liver from complications that result from diabetes or obesity. Intake of omega-3 fats is linked to fewer incidences of fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.
In addition, omega-3s have a positive effect on controlling blood glucose levels. People with diabetes have autoantibodies in their bloodstream that send signals to the immune system. They tell the body to attack the cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin.
Omega-3 fatty acids prevent the prevalence of these autoantibodies. These health benefits add to fish oil’s candidacy as a prime treatment for diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. It even has a glycemic index that is favorable to those who have diabetes.
The Effects of Nerve Damage Are Real
While everyone feels pins and needles in their hands and feet from time to time, things are on another level for people with neuropathy. Nerve damage can lead to a complete loss of feeling in the extremities. This can be particularly dangerous if someone with neuropathy injures their feet.
They might not realize there are cuts or bruises on their feet. If they continue to unwillingly ignore the injury, it could lead to further complications. These include ulcers, open sores, infections, and the need for surgery.
Nerve damage can also extend to the eyes, and this could lead to impaired vision or blindness.
Damage to motor nerves can make it difficult to get around, and it increases the chances of slipping or falling. Many people with neuropathy in their lower body need to walk with a cane or use a wheelchair.
In many cases, neuropathy is the body saying that it is struggling with a bigger issue. No one should ignore the symptoms of nerve damage, including tingling, loss of feeling, and sharp pain. While there is not a definitive cure for neuropathy, there are lifestyle changes and even medications that can help. The new developments about fish oil hold a lot of promise for people with various health issues.
It is always a good idea for people to discuss new treatment options or changes to existing treatments before trying them out. Fortunately, fish oil is a supplement that the FDA and doctors consider safe, and it is readily available in many supermarkets and pharmacies. As the research continues, doctors and scientists are sure to find more reasons to recommend fish oil to patients and the general public.
There are many other vitamins and herbs that are essential for optimal nerve health. One supplement that contains a combination of those essentials is called Nerve Renew by the Neuropathy Treatment Group. The formula has several b vitamins, alpha lipoic acid, along with a blend of herbs shown to help support the nervous system.