Research shows that the medication Metanx, which contains naturally occurring forms of multiple vitamins, may help relieve the painful symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.

What is peripheral neuropathy?

The most common complication of diabetes, peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) results from maintaining chronically high blood sugar. It leads to numbness, loss of sensation and sometimes pain in the feet and legs. About 60 to 70 percent of diabetics will eventually develop peripheral neuropathy.

Neuropathy and vitamin B

B-complex vitamins are essential to our health, but the body can't manufacture them — they must be ingested via food or supplement. They help support metabolism and maintain the immune and nervous systems. Research has suggested that B-vitamins can ease neuropathy symptoms, as long as their dosage is carefully monitored.

In a University of California, San Diego study, experts found that combination therapy with vitamins B1, B6 and B12 alleviated pain and improved nerve function in patients with diabetic neuropathy. Patients showed improvement after nine days of supplementation. Further, each of the three B vitamins examined successfully relieved pain on its own, but only vitamin B6 improved nerve conduction speed.

However, other studies have shown that excessive levels of vitamin B6 can cause peripheral neuropathy, leading researchers to caution the use of vitamin B6 supplementation.

Metanx and neuropathy

In line with the success of combination therapy, Metanx was developed as a prescription medication containing the active, naturally occurring forms of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

At Tulane University, researchers conducted a six-month study on 200 type 2 diabetes patients and the effects of vitamin therapy, including Metanx, compared to placebo. Within two to three months, patients taking Metanx showed significant improvements in neuropathy symptoms, with patients reporting no significant side effects.

More studies needed

While additional studies are needed to verify the success of Metanx and vitamin therapy, research continues to support a link between vitamin B deficiency and increased neuropathy symptoms.

Nonetheless, be sure to consult with your doctor before taking any vitamin supplements as a means for alleviating neuropathy or diabetes symptoms.