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Supplements for nerve pain: 8 options

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People with nerve pain, or neuropathy, may benefit from taking certain supplements, such as B vitamins and the amino acid acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC).
Medically reviewed by Ami Patel PharmD, BCPS
Updated on

Neuropathy can cause pain, burning, and tingling sensations throughout the body, especially in the hands and feet. It can result from various health conditions and related issues, such as diabetes, chemotherapy, exposure to toxins, injuries, infections, and tumors.

Doctors can prescribe medication to relieve the pain, but supplements may also help.

Before starting supplements, you should speak with a doctor, as supplements can cause side effects and interact with other medications.

A doctor can advise whether supplements are suitable, suggest which ones to take, and recommend reliable brands.

This article focuses on supplements that may reduce nerve pain and other treatment options for improving neuropathy.

1. Acetyl-l-carnitine

randomly scattered, flat, round, orange pills on a blue background that could be supplements for nerve pain
Photography by Javier Zayas Photography/Getty Images

ALC is an amino acid that the kidneys and liver produce naturally. It may help manage various symptoms, including nerve pain.

It may also help people with diabetic neuropathy or those who are undergoing chemotherapy.

However, one 2022 review showed inconsistent research results. In some studies, participants said it provided relief from neuropathy. But in other studies, people with diabetic neuropathy didn’t notice a significant improvement in nerve pain.

According to the review, the results of some older research suggest that taking ALC supplements may worsen neuropathy in people undergoing chemotherapy.

2. Alpha-lipoic acid

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) supplements may help relieve the tingling and burning sensation that occurs with diabetic neuropathy.

However, research hasn’t confirmed that it’s effective.

A 2022 review analyzed eight trials involving 1,500 people with diabetes. About 37% of participants in these trials noticed an improvement in diabetic neuropathy symptoms when taking ALA supplements.

The same review reports five out of eight trials didn’t find enough evidence to prove that taking ALA supplements can improve nerve pain.

3. B-complex vitamins

Vitamin B-complex supplements may improve nerve pain.

A 2021 study found that vitamins B1, B6, B9, and B12 can help treat neuropathy.

The research found that vitamin B6 can help improve sensory nerve conduction, while vitamin B12 plays a key role in nerve repair.

You can find vitamin B1 in oranges, meat, and other vegetables. You can also find vitamin B in vitamin B-fortified cereals and oatmeal.

4. Calcium

Calcium keeps your bones strong and healthy. It also has a crucial role in regenerating nerves, ensuring that they continue to function effectively.

Calcium may improve neuropathy symptoms, although no studies have confirmed this.

5. Glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. The human body uses it to produce proteins.

A 2016 study found glutamine may improve neuropathy and other symptoms people may experience during chemotherapy treatment. But according to a 2018 study, glutamine didn’t reduce or prevent any side effects of chemotherapy.

More research is needed to confirm that glutamine is effective in improving nerve pain.

Glutamine is present in foods such as:

  • corn
  • egg whites
  • milk
  • barley
  • peanuts
  • soybeans
  • wheat

6. Glutathione

Glutathione is an antioxidant that the human body produces naturally.

In 2017, a study on animals found that peripheral neuropathy may improve with increased glutathione intake.

However, more studies are needed to confirm its efficacy in humans.

7. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral responsible for many intracellular functions, including enzyme reactions and transporting nerve signals and information.

A 2018 study found that people who receive chemotherapy treatment, have higher levels of magnesium, and eat a magnesium-rich diet, are less likely to experience nerve pain.

According to a 2022 review, some research showed that magnesium improved nerve pain. But in other research, magnesium made it worse.

More research is necessary to confirm that magnesium supplements can help treat neuropathy.

8. N-acetyl cysteine

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an antioxidant that may help protect the neurological system from inflammation and damage.

A 2019 study found that people with diabetic neuropathy saw an improvement in their symptoms after taking NAC for 8 weeks.

However, more research is needed to confirm the efficacy of NAC in treating chronic nerve pain.

NAC is present in foods such as:

  • lentils
  • bananas
  • beans

Learn more about prescription supplements.

Medical treatments for nerve pain

If you’re experiencing nerve pain, your doctor can prescribe different types of medication depending on how severe your symptoms are.

Medications to treat nerve pain may include:

Your doctor may also prescribe a combination of drugs rather than a single medication.

A 2017 study found that taking certain combinations of antidepressants alongside anticonvulsants may be more effective than taking either alone.

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Neuropathy can produce a burning or tingling sensation anywhere in the body, but it most commonly affects the feet and hands.

Certain supplements may improve neuropathy, but researchers need to conduct more studies to confirm that most of these are effective.

A doctor can prescribe different types of pain relievers to treat neuropathy symptoms. Using supplements alongside other drugs may help boost their effectiveness in treating neuropathy symptoms.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not verify the quality of supplements. For this reason, it may be unclear what they contain and whether they are safe and effective.

As supplements can interact with other medications, it’s important to speak with a doctor before taking them.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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