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  • South Central Wisconsin
  • January 2014
Written by  Michelle Buchanan, CA

Neuropathy and aging — How to repair the demyelination

Living with neuropathy is often described as “burning pain that keeps me up at night,” “numbness that makes my feet and legs feel dead”, or “pain that is so severe I just want to crawl out of my skin.” People with neuropathy are often told there is very little they can do to stop or reverse the demyelination process. At best, pharmaceutical medications only mask the symptoms to provide temporary relief.

Common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy (often associated with aging) include:

  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Clumsiness and loss of balance
  • Loss of sensation in any part of the body
  • Tremors and loss of fine motor skills
  • Pain, burning and numbness in the extremities

Another type of neuropathy with serious consequences occurs when the tenth cranial nerve, the vagus nerve, demyelinates. This nerve flows from the brain all the way to the bladder with branches affecting all the major organs, including the heart, digestive system, intestines and bladder. Symptoms of vagus nerve demyelination usually begin with the bladder and work their way up the nerve pathway. Common symptoms of vagus nerve demyelination (often associated with aging) include:

  • Incontinence and frequent urination
  • Nocturnal enuresis with disrupted sleep
  • Constipation
  • Chronic nausea
  • Indigestion and leaky gut syndrome
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Gagging and problems swallowing
  • Loss of hearing and taste

Causes of nerve demyelination

A fatty cover called the myelin sheath surrounds healthy nerve fibers and allows messages to and from the brain to reach every area of the body. Multiple sclerosis is a common autoimmune condition that attacks the myelin sheath. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, over 2.5 million people worldwide and 400,000 people in the United States have some form of multiple sclerosis. Additional causes of nerve demyelination include:

  • Improper digestion of fats and nutrients
  • Surgery and prolonged stress
  • Low progesterone and testosterone levels
  • Diabetes and inflammation from sugar
  • Chronic inflammation and inflammatory diseases
  • Chronic and viral infections
  • Alcoholism and heavy drinking
  • Exposure to heavy metals and neurotoxins

Steps to repair nerve demyelination naturally

The success of natural treatments for re-myelination of the nerves depends on how long the nerves have been damaged and the ability to reduce triggers that caused the demyelination. Improving digestion and absorption of nutrients along with optimizing natural progesterone1 and testosterone2 levels are essential for nerve health.

Acupuncture and nutritional supplements can also be of value. Acupuncture generates adult stem cells and can help the nerves repair quickly. Key nutritional supplements include digestive enzymes, vitamin D3, L-theanine, fish oil, Neurotrophin PMG® from Standard Process, ATP Fuel™ from Researched Nutritionals, and high quality vitamin and mineral supplements.

Young Living™ Essential Oils are 100% pure therapeutic grade and can be easily applied topically to the affected area. Body-Feedback™ testing methods based on Japanese acupuncture diagnosing methods can help determine which of the essential oils will work best. Essential oils can be used to reduce inflammation, improve natural hormone levels and re-myelinate the nerves. A practitioner who knows these testing methods will work with clients to choose the best oils.

Reducing common issues associated with aging and nerve degeneration requires long-term commitments to wellness. Working with qualified acupuncturists and holistic healthcare providers for regular treatments is best. Many people can reduce their symptoms significantly if not entirely with holistic methods. Having a team of health care providers that specialize in neuropathy is the key to success.


Michelle Buchanan, certified acupuncturist, is the owner of Isthmus Acupuncture Center, LLC, 890 W. Wingra Drive in Madison, Wisconsin. They offer a variety of holistic therapies, including acupuncture, therapeutic massage, Chinese and Western herbs, functional medicine, therapeutic grade essential oils and consultations to meet the health care goals of their clients. Michelle also teaches classes for other health care providers. For more information, call 608.441.9355 or visit http://isthmusacupuncture.com.

1. Schumacher, M. et al. “Progesterone: Therapeutic opportunities for neuroprotection and myelin repair.” Pharmacol Ther. [Internet] 2007 Oct [cited 2013, Aug 6]; 116(1):77-106. Epub 2007 Jun 18. Available from http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17659348

2. Hussain, R. et al. “The neural androgen receptor: A therapeutic target for myelin repair in chronic demyelination.” Brain.[Internet] 2013 Jan [cited 2013, Aug 6]; 136(Pt 1):132-46. doi: 10.1093/brain/aws284. Available from http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2336509

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